Presenters From All Walks of Life Share Insight on “Delivering the Experience” at PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit

It is said there are as many golf teaching philosophies as there are stars in the sky. Some 675 PGA Professionals from seven countries sat in on two days of insightful presentations from experts inside and outside the golf realm Sunday and Monday during the 2023 PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit in partnership with Rolex at the Orange County Convention Center’s Linda W. Chapin Theater.

Back in person in Orlando for the first time since 2019 following the pandemic, the theme of the 2023 PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit featured an all-star lineup or PGA teachers and coaches embracing the theme of  “Delivering the Experience.” PGA Professional Joe Hallett, Director of Instruction at Vanderbilt Legends Club and the coach of U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Stacy Lewis, served as emcee, replacing “Dancing With the Stars” standout Tony Dovolani, who had a personal emergency and couldn’t make the trip to Orlando.

The first-day highlights included former U.S. Ryder Cup Captain and PGA Championship winner Hal Sutton recounting his one-shot 1983 PGA Championship victory over Jack Nicklaus at Riviera. Sutton also spoke about his relationship with the great Byron Nelson.

“Jack Nicklaus was my idol, so I knew I had to keep making birdies at Riviera in 1983,” recalled Sutton. “When I was able to finish one ahead of Jack, he was very gracious. I learned a lot from Jack that week. I learned that a true champion shows graciousness and respect in defeat.

“I tell all of my students now that learning how to be gracious in defeat is as important as winning.”

Also moving the teaching and coaching needle on Sunday was Dr. Rick Sessinghaus, PGA, the founder of Flow Code Golf Academy and the coach of two-time major champion Collin Morikawa; 1991 National PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year Mike Hebron, 2002 Teacher of the Year Randy Smith, and 2006 National LPGA Teacher of the Year Cheryl Anderson; PGA Hall of Famer and former LPGA Tour player Renee Powell; former U.S. Navy SEAL Dr. Joe LaCaze; 2009 National PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year Mike Bender and 2013 PGA Teacher of the Year Lou Guzzi; 2019 National PGA Professional Development Award recipient Todd Sones; Mike Romatowski, creator of Mach 3 Golf Speed Training and PGA putting guru Mike Shannon.

On the second day of the Summit, three-time Olympian Hazel Clark had a universal message for coaches.

“Talent alone is not enough; you have to put in the work and be disciplined,” said Clark, now Director of Global Sales and Business Development for the Bermuda Tourism Authority. “I didn’t want to run track when I was young, but my father said I was going to be great. He said it wasn’t good enough to be good if you want to be great. He taught me to perform well under pressure, but you can only do that if you put in the time and work.

“Establishing a good work ethic is a must if you want to succeed in anything, whether it’s track and field or golf. As coaches, we have to establish a good work ethic for our students and help them perform to their peak capacity.”

ORLANDO, FL – JANUARY 22: Cheryl Anderson, PGA, LPGA smiles with Dr. Paul Schempp, PH.D, Randy Smith, PGA, and Mike Hebron, PGA during the Teaching & Coaching Summit at the 2023 PGA Show at Orange County Convention Center on Sunday, January 22, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gary Bogdon/PGA of America)

One of the most fascinating presentations at the 2023 Summit was delivered by Dr. Alison Curdt, PGA, the 2015 LPGA National Teacher of the Year, who spoke about golf trauma. She asked members of the audience how many had experienced a “traumatic experience” on the golf course, such as a triple bogey on the 18th hole, a shanked shot, or a three-putt under pressure.

“Your brain stores those memories and your body will react in a similar manner when you face a similar situation in the future,” said Curdt. “That is golf trauma. We all have it, but we can transfer those memories to our long-term brain by eliminating stress and anxiety. One way to eliminate golf trauma is for coaches to give their students a Plan B to turn to under pressure so those golf traumas don’t reoccur.”

A Competitor Panel hosted by PGA Master Professional Kellie Stenzel with PGA Tour Champions qualifying medalist and PGA Professional Rob Labritz, PGA Women’s PGA Cup standout Joanna Coe and 2022 Senior PGA Professional champion Tracy Phillips provided attendees with insight on how to perform (and teach others) hot perform under pressure.

Mike Malaska, the 2011 National PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year, implored PGA Professionals in the audience to actually play golf if they want to earn the respect of students they are teaching, while 2019 Canadian PGA Teacher of the Year Scott Cowx; Robins Golf Logistix CEO Will Robins, PGA; Be Counted Foundation CEO Gerry Hammond, PGA, also delivered insightful presentations. Former National PGA Junior Golf Leader John Godwin, National PGA Youth Player Development Award winner Andy Miller and US Kids Top 50 Master Teacher and former PGA Tour player James Hong participating in a panel on junior golf; while Mike and Sandy LaBauve offered a tribute to Jack Lumpkin; and 2021 PGA Teacher of the Year Jamie Mulligan wrapped up the second day with “How to Become a Better Player at Every Level Every Day.”