Embracing the theme, “Mind, Body and Heart – The Essence of Coaching,” more than 700 PGA Professionals and golf instructors heard keynote speeches and special presentations from an all-star roster of experts during the 2019 PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit presented by OMEGA Sunday and Monday in the Chapin Theater at the Orange County Convention Center.
The 2019 Summit upheld a tradition that began in 1988 of premier teachers and coaches sharing information, knowledge and business strategies associated with all aspects of teaching and coaching golf.
“As an instructor myself, the PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit has a special place in my heart,” observed PGA President Suzy Whaley in her opening remarks. “Our mission (of the PGA) is to elevate the standards of our profession. This is a great opportunity to interact with the brightest minds in teaching and coaching and share our knowledge, which helps us all learn and become more effective teachers and coaches.”
The new 2019 Summit format saw five keynote speeches or special presentations each morning on Sunday and Monday, then a battery of breakout sessions centered on timely teaching and coaching issues in the afternoon.
“We want each of the PGA Professionals and teachers in attendance to take something special away from the Summit,” said 2019 T&C Summit Chair Michael Breed, the 2012 PGA Teacher of the Year who served as emcee of the two-day Summit. “We want to help every teacher and coach discover new ways to be the best they can possibly be – and we want to spread the word that the PGA of America is THE place for golf instruction.”
From best-selling author Jon Gordon, to retired Navy SEAL Chris Sajnog and TPI founder Dave Phillips, to Vision 54 founders Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, to former Dancing With the Stars Coach/star Tony Dovolani, to 1983 PGA Champion and U.S. Ryder Captain Hal Sutton, each Summit speaker on the main stage delivered a compelling message on Sunday’s opening day.
“As coaches, we need to maintain positivity and eliminate negativity,” stressed Gordon, whose well-known books include “The Energy Bus” and “The Power of Positive Leadership.” “It takes the three C’s — communication, commitment and connection to be a successful coach. And you can throw in a fourth C – caring.”
Sutton, a 14-time winner on the PGA Tour, implored teachers and coaches to “get out of the lab and get back on the golf course.”
“We have a tremendous responsibility as teachers of the game,” said Sutton. “Sometimes, I think we’re relying too much on technology and TrackMan numbers, and are forgetting why we play the game.
“Are we teaching swing, or are we teaching players to have fun? I lost sight of why I play myself, and I quit playing. I’m 60 now, but going out on the Champions Tour and going back to why I played the game in my childhood.”
Day Two of the 2019 PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit was equally compelling, with eight-time PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon; 2016 and 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team physician Dr. Ara Suppiah; PGA Director of Golf Program Development Ted Eleftheriou; 2018 PGA Teacher of the Year James Sieckmann, and leading performance consultant and sports scientist, Dr. Stephen Norris delivering keynote presentations.
“In my career, I believe I have taken more lessons than anyone in professional golf,” said Faxon, who produced a list of some 90 instructors he has worked with over the years.
“I was fortunate to be considered one of the best putters in the game during my career, and part of that was because I didn’t get lost in a lot of putting mechanics. I learned that feel and rhythm is the most important thing. Everyone has their own nuances in putting, and that’s not a bad thing.”
Dr. Suppiah emphasized the importance of proper body maintenance to achieve maximum performance among golfers, extolling the virtues of proper sleep, nutrition, supplements and fitness. “People who say I’ll sleep when I’m dead, always will,” said Suppiah. “Sleep is free medicine and allows the body to rejuvenate.”
Eleftheriou, a PGA member since 1998, encouraged teachers and coaches to “sell the experience and social environment of golf” rather than trying to sell basic facility amenities such as a driving range or championship golf course. “Ask the ‘Why’ question – why do you want to play golf, or why do you want to take a lesson. That’s the important thing when connecting with prospective golfers.”
Sieckmann counseled coaches to help students deal with the stress, anxiety and emotion of playing good golf. “Arm your students with the information to excel, but don’t rely solely on technology and technique in teaching,” explained Sieckmann. “Golf involves stress, anxiety and emotion, but we need to show our students how to deal with those things and let them know that’s a natural part of golf.”
(Photos by Hailey Garrett/PGA of America)