Winter 2010: Presidents Message
One of the great things about working each day here at the USGTF National Office in Port St. Lucie,
Florida, is seeing the number of cutting-edge and innovative opportunities for teaching professionals that come our way. And then, of course, it’s up to us to determine which of these ideas have merit and then share them with all of our members.
Recently, I had a call from Mr. Chris MacDonald, who hails from San Clemente, California. He came up with, and has patented, a great new concept for teaching beginners called T-Golf (named after the popular baseball equivalent T-Ball). It involves a speciallydesigned short golf club with a much larger than average clubface, and an adjustable device that tees up the golf ball at waist height. Hitting the ball, therefore, is much easier for most people, because they are closer to the ball and no spine tilt is required. Upon impact, the ball always becomes airborne, which immediately reduces the frustration factor and hooks the student on the fun of actually hitting a golf ball. In time, the adjustable tee is lowered; the spine angle increases, and your students are on their way to good ballstriking. And, because the device is portable, the teacher can get students out on the golf course right away.
We all know that people take up the game for two main reasons: to have fun and to socialize. And, if we can take away the initial frustration factor in learning the game and replace it with some fun and a sense of immediate accomplishment, then Mr. MacDonald has invented a home run.
In fact, I remember in the late 1960’s in the ski teaching industry, there was a ski instructor from Killington, Vermont, named Cliff Taylor, who happened to think outside the box and one day asked himself, “Why are we starting people off on these awkward long skis? Wouldn’t it be easier to start beginners on shorter skis?” Now in the 600 or so years that people had been sliding on snow, can you imagine no one had thought of this! So, he followed through on his idea, called it the graduated-length method of learning (GLM), and revolutionized the sport of skiing. Millions more people worldwide took up the sport, simply because learning suddenly became easier, and a lot more fun.
On other fronts, we have just completed three new books for teaching professionals. One is titled The Professional, written by USGTF member and contributing writer Norm Crerar, from Vernon, British Columbia. It is an amalgamation of years of short stories on the subject of professionalism. Norm was one of Canada’s greatest skiers, past president of the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance, and former helicopter ski guide in the Bugaboo Mountains of western Canada. What makes this book so great is that all of his stories evolve around his personal experiences in life, told with Norm’s unique sense of humor. Book number two is titled Teaching Junior Golfers, 60 Great Tips. This was written by Ben and Heather Bryant, both longtime USGTF members, who have master’s degrees in education. Both Ben and Heather are high school teachers in Tampa, Florida. Ben is also coach of the Alonzo High School golf team. The book offers a unique commonsense approach to the often-asked question, “How do I teach kids?”
And, book number three is titled 100 Tips for Golf Course Managers. Since the USGTF established the United States Golf Managers Association last year, we thought it would be appropriate to write a book on the subject of golf management. Each of our guest speakers who talk on every subject pertinent to golf management at our 5-day certification course were asked to write several tips on their unique subjects. The result is outstanding advice for anyone either currently employed in golf management or whoever plans to enter the profession. And, who better to learn from than currently employed golf managers who love to share their advice and experience with others?
In closing, we just returned from the World Golf Teachers Cup at Palmetto Dunes Resort at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Teaching professionals from 20 WGTF member nations were represented; the weather all week was perfect, and a great time was had by all. The full story and accompanying photos can be found on pages 38 through 41 of this publication.