Short Game, Golf Operations, and Club Repair

If today is any indication of how the 2nd Semester is going to go, I think the next four months are going to be a lot of fun! Tuesdays are going to be long days. I have class from 9:00a until 3:50p.

Rickie Fowler made birdie five of the six times he played the treacherous Par 3 17th.

In Advanced Elements of the Short Game with PGA Professional Jay Friedman, we discussed this weekend’s PLAYERS Championship and how the tournament was largely decided by – you guessed it – the short game elements of putting and wedge play. TPC Sawgrass is such a physically demanding golf course and has the three best finishing holes in the sport in the Par 5 16th, the Par 3 17th, and the long Par 4 18th.

Jay said he thought the last two hours of the tournament made for riveting television and that even a woman in her 70s at the Mother’s Day party he was attending couldn’t pull herself away from the coverage. And she wasn’t even a golf fan! That speaks well for the future of the game.

We also talked about the history of golf and the triumvirates that have defined it : Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, and Gene Sarazen in the 20s and 30s; Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Sam Snead in the 40s and 50s; and Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player in the 60s and 70s. If PLAYERS Champion Rickie Fowler can team up with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy over the next decade or so, it’ll really elevate the game. McIlroy is already there with his four major championships.

Poor Kevin Kisner. The University of Georgia product got it to extra holes in two of the last three PGA Tour events and lost them both. It’s hard to lose like that, but it also shows how hard it is to win. Kisner is two-under par in those two playoffs and is still searching for his first Tour victory. In case you were feeling sorry for Kisner, those two finishes have earned him more than $1.5 million dollars.

Kevin Kisner hasn’t won on Tour yet, but he’s made more than $1.5 million for his last two runner-up finishes.

But how good was Fowler? The guy made birdie on the treacherous island green that makes up the 17th hole five out of the six times he played it last week! It’s tough to call the man who finished in the Top 5 in all four majors last year overrated.

The most mind-blowing stat from today’s class? From ten yards and in, 95% of PGA Tour players get up and down for par or better. The focus of this class is going to be on developing better distance control through a combination of hip-to-hip, hip-to-shoulder, shoulder-to-shoulder, and full-length swings. I can’t wait to get started.

Understanding Golf Operations
Boy am I glad PGA Professional Fred Barr is teaching this class. Things got underway about 15 minutes late because someone decided to test the fire alarm.

Under Fred Barr, Golf Academy students have had a 95% job placement percentage for three years running.
Under Fred Barr, Golf Academy students have had a 95% job placement percentage for three years running.

Fred is great. Not only does the Golf Academy of America Phoenix have a 95% job placement percentage for its graduates, more than 75% of students have jobs before they graduate. It’s the highest placement percentage of any of the Education Corporation of America’s 78 schools nationwide and the highest percentage for three years running now. That’s a testament to the hard work that Fred puts in and to what he demands of Golf Academy students. It’s a fact – Academy grads are taking over the industry. Domination through saturation.

Fred says you have to be able to sell yourself. The employer is the buyer. He or she purchases your skills, but you have to be able to sell yourself. If you don’t tell people your story, they won’t know. If you can find a way to add value in this industry, you will differentiate yourself. My favorite Fred-ism of the day:

“You get paid for the value you bring to the marketplace, not for the length of time you have been in the marketplace.”

Fred is always telling us not to worry about the economy either… because it’s always bad. He says the dollars “will find you.”

Golf courses are broken down into four different segments based on the revenues they generate:

* Bronze = $1.8 million annually
* Silver = $2.89 million annually
* Gold = $3-4 million annually
* Platinum = $5-10 million annually

Which type of facility do you think I’ve got my eye on?

Golf Club Assembly and Repair
The class I’m most looking forward to this semester is Golf Club Assembly and Repair with PGA Professional Gary Balliet. Today, we touched on a little bit of everything, and after such a long day, I thought my head was going to explode.

PGA Instructor Gary Balliet demonstrates the lie and loft machine we'll be using in Club Repair this semester.
PGA Instructor Gary Balliet demonstrates the lie and loft machine we’ll be using in Club Repair this semester.

The time is divided between the classroom for the first hour and then the lab for the next two. It’s going to be very hands-on. When we got to the workshop, we went over some of the equipment we will be using and as well as some of the safety procedures. We have access to a propane torch, so it’s a good idea to know where the fire extinguisher is.

The lie and loft machine, the flex board, and the frequency matching machine garnered most of the attention on the first day, and now, I can’t wait until we start assembling golf clubs of our own. Over the coming weeks, you can be sure that I’ll be posting pictures and detailed descriptions of exactly what we’re working on and how we’re doing what we’re doing.

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