Being the class clown that I was in high school, I realized immediately that there would be no monkey business when Ping took me back to school recently.
A history lesson that I have learned from being in the golf industry for so many years is that Ping is quite serious about clubfitting as a foundation for its association with its network of green grass and off-course retailers that sell its products.
Besides, there was no teacher and no fellow students to perform for, just me and my computer as I began the Ping i-Learn courses designed to expand the number of qualified fitters through the Internet.
According to Ping chairman and chief executive officer John Solheim, “i-Learn expands our opportunities to further educate our customers and club fitters around the world.”
“Custom fitting is one of our main competitive advantages, so it is a critical we send a consistent message to our customers. We rely on them to help tell the Ping story in the retail environment,” said Solheim.
“Their extensive knowledge and training further validates our processes to the golfer. i-Learn ensures golfers are benefiting from the Ping fitting experience that’s been built over the last 50 years,” he added.
Available in both French and English, it’s simple for Ping accounts to log on by going to http://i-learn.pinggolf.com or http://i-learn.pinggolf.com/French and create an account. For more information, contact your Ping sales representative.
At the beginning, you will be asked to take a three-question Pre Test, before navigating to the various courses via the Topic Menu button. These courses will prepare you for a 30-question Final Test that results in certification if successful.
The entire time spent on i-Learn before certification can be as low as an hour-and-a-half, but “it can be longer than that. At the end of the day, everyone works at their own pace,” said Dave Wilson, general manager of Ping Canada.
Users can use one block of time to complete i-Learn or break it down into several sessions.
“First of all, it’s a very effective way of reaching out to our customers. It allows them to gain knowledge about Ping clubfitting at a pace and a time that they might be more comfortable with. They can’t always attend a specific time and date for an education program,” said Wilson.
“Obviously, this is very cost effective,” said Wilson, adding that i-Learn adds another layer of Ping education through technology.
“It’s something that is applicable for any level of golf professional and/or retail staff person, so it doesn’t work in isolation for one channel of the business. It works extremely well for our entire account base,” he said.
“It’s really about us trying to get a broader and more comprehensive knowledge base for our accounts in an effective way that doesn’t cost the customer a lot of money and, in the end, it’s really just time and it’s effort and energy, which is really required to sell properly-fitted golf equipment,” he said.
Users gently ease into i-Learn, beginning with an Introduction and General Knowledge session before getting into the meat of the course with topics such as Iron Fitting Steps, Wedge Fitting, Metal Wood Fitting, the Hybrid Fitting Process, Putter Fitting and Monitoring On-Course Performance.
Along the way, Ping offers several resources including Iron Fitting Charts, Metal Wood Charts, Performance Score Sheets for irons, metal woods, wedges and hybrids, degradation charts for irons and hybrids and a swing path chart for irons. There are also some handy tips.
All topics must be completed before taking the Final Test.
Wilson says i-Learn has been gaining speed since being introduced last fall. “In the last six months, there’s been around 20 per cent of accounts that have accessed the i-Learn clubfitting program and we’ve had as many as five individuals from specific accounts that have actually accessed and passed the i-Learn certification.
“Our ambition is that, towards mid-to-late summer, at least 30 to 35 per cent of our accounts have accessed the program,” said Wilson, adding that i-Learn’s versatility lends itself to several applications through its internet base that has changed education, just as it has other aspects of business.
“Any retailer who has an internet base for training their employees can easily integrate i-Learn into that. We can set that up,” he said, adding that it can also serve another purpose in the near future.
“Education isn’t, in my opinion, a product knowledge session once or twice a year at a product launch. Education is an ongoing exercise every day,” said Wilson.
“To give you an example, as we get closer to any new product launch, we’ll be able to train our accounts through these internet platforms, so from our perspective, i-Learn is just, in my opinion, the first step.”