PGA Level 2 Seminar: Day 5

Rafael Floriani (PGA) demonstrates the three different wrist activities of pitching.

How’s this for a “good morning?” Erik Nielsen (PGA) came to the front of the ballroom first thing this morning and suggested we check-in for our Saturday morning flights right away. My return flight takes me back through Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW), and Hurricane Harvey just happens to be a bearing down on the Texas coast. Great!

I can’t help but think back to my return trip last year and the problems I had getting out of Port St. Lucie. My flight got cancelled in the middle of the night, and because my phone was on vibrate and charging on the other side of the room, I didn’t hear the calls or the emails pouring in.

I woke up to two cancelled flights and a real mess on my hands to try and get home. Not good. And just when I was going to say, “We made it to the last day!” Now, we may never leave.

Hopefully our flights tomorrow won’t be delayed or even cancelled like they were last year at this time. Two of our classmates already had to leave early, missing the latter part of the afternoon session, so they could hopefully get home and beat the storm. Would you rather be home in a hurricane or would you rather be stuck at the Hilton Garden Inn? I’m not so sure.

For the second day in a row (a carbon copy of yesterday as a matter of fact), we started the day outside because there was rain in the forecast in the afternoon. I love starting our teaching days outside not just because it’s a little cooler in the mornings but because it also gives us a little more perspective heading into the afternoon slide shows. In my PGA Education survey, I suggested they do that for every Seminar session. It gets the day off to a great start!

Brad Brewer (PGA) opened the day’s festivities by demonstrating another short game lesson, but this time instead of driving, he taught putting. I was amazed at how little Brad actually said to the four students with whom he was working. He told us later that it was by design. He wanted to encourage more self-discovery, something we discussed in Thursday’s afternoon session.

Then Rafael took over with a session on pitching. He went over three different wrist activities: none to none, some to none, and some to some. Each of the activities represents a different amount of wrist hinge in the back and forward swings. It’s a method of teaching that never occurred to me, but I loved it! It’s a great way to describe the different pitch shots, their different trajectories, and their different chances for success. I’m definitely going to incorporate this methodology into my teaching back home, especially with my junior golfers. They’ll love it too!

Billy Baker checks the loft and lie of a 5-iron on the Mitchell loft and lie machine.

Then, while one half of the group headed over to the Club Lab with Rafael Floriani (PGA), we broke into groups of four or five and each one of us actually had to conduct a group lesson in front of our classmates. Brad walked around to give us feedback and even made a few suggestions. When it was time to switch, we went into the Lab and watched a video on changing an iron shaft.

We also measured shaft length and swing weight and got to see how to use a loft and lie machine to check both measurements. Again, for me, much of this was a review of what I had already learned at the Golf Academy. That education has really come in handy at both the Level 1 and now the Level 2 Seminars.

After lunch we started talking about augmented feedback, drills, and training aids. Over the last couple of days, I wish Brad had shared some more stories about what it was like working for and with Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill for ten years. Sadly, it was a lot of PowerPoint slide reading, something we probably could have done ourselves.

The best part was when Rafael reviewed several of the different drills to help slicers, which affects 90% of all golfers out there. He also showed us the more than 20 benefits of the feet together drill, and we talked about different training aids. I love using training aids in my teaching. I’ve collected them over the years through my own learning and play, and I now I get to employ them when working with my students. That’s golfing life coming full circle.

Even though there are no questions about technology on the Level 2 Test, we got to make a late afternoon visit to the hitting simulators next door and to the brand new Putting Lab that’s adjacent to the Club Lab. The PGA just recently purchased Quintic Ball Roll program to help measure and analyze a player’s putting stroke.

The big takeaway from our brief session in the Lab was that we all need to do more putter fittings. There’s a real market out there that’s being underserved. When asked how many of us had been fitted for our putters, only three of us raised their hands. And that’s knowing that almost half of the shots in every round of golf are putts. It doesn’t make sense not to get fitted.

The PGA recently built an indoor putting lab with three different putting simulators.

Before we left, Rafael asked us the question, “How do you keep your lesson books full?” That’s an interesting question. What we came away with was that you want your students to have fun and get better. And then you want to find a way to market those results. Even with all the social media out there in 2017, word-of-mouth is still the best advertising technique you can use.

High energy and enthusiasm is also a plus, and if you’re likeable, there’s a great chance that you’re going to keep your lesson book full. As we learned yesterday, golf instruction is about teaching people more than it is about teaching golf.

To close the day, we re-visited the Fitness and Performance aspect of the game. I’ll be honest. For most of us at this point in our careers, this is not our forte. We’re not even close to being experts in this area, and I’m sure most of us would prefer to send our students to someone else to conduct a fitness assessment. The disinterest could also be that it was well after 6:00p, and by the end of a long week, most of us were toast.

Time to head over to Duffy’s to relax, enjoy a cold one, and maybe have a little putting contest before we head out on those early morning shuttles back to Palm Beach International.

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