Sean Casey is Teaching Professional at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont., and was recently named Teacher of the Year by the Canadian PGA. He discusses how the role of a teaching professional also involves developing a rapport with the student.
At our facility, we’re getting an increasing number of girls and I think that’s more to do with our efforts than a particular trend in the industry.
We’re trying to create programs for girls. In the past, we would have a mix of boys and girls in our Elite Junior program. This program is for kids who have progressed past the introductory four-week clinics and have developed a passion and desire to play the game.
What we would end up with is a girl or two or three among the 15 boys and the girls would kind gravitate towards one another.
We’ve just hired Carrie Vaughn and she’s got a passion to develop and help elite junior girls or girls who want to play college or tournament golf. She’s just created our first-ever elite program for girls and recently returned from Florida where she spent five days with the eight girls in the program.
She’s going to continue the program this summer and, hopefully, we’ll get more signed up, but eight’s a good start and now, we can create a little buzz about our girls program.
I think a lot of girls prefer the all-female atmosphere, but ones that were previously in the boys program may stay there, probably for the simple reason that they’ve created a relationship with the coaches.
Carrie has plenty of experience and not every teaching professional has playing experience at the high professional level like Carrie, who has played on the Duramed Futures Tour and at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
She’s an all-around athlete, so she brings a lot to the table and we’re lucky to have her. Obviously, she can help the girls develop as golfers, but she can provide them with much more the golf instruction. I think it’s great that they’ve got a female to look up to and Carrie’s cool, she’s fun and she’s been successful in life, so she’s a great role model for junior girls.
I think that teaching kids goes beyond technique, especially when it’s an ongoing program where we get to know the kids better. They look for guidance in a lot of different areas. For example, they may want to know about what to look for when they’re considering university.
As a teaching professional, you can really influence them in a lot of ways and they tend to talk to us about a lot of those things, not to say they don’t talk to their parents.
At our academy, I try to encourage the professionals to develop a rapport with their students because they have the potential to be a good role model. I want them to provide as much help to the kids in different aspects, not just work on their golf games.
Sometimes, people just want your professional instruction. They’re in, they’re out and off they go. That’s fine too.
However, the nice thing about what we do is that we can connect with people and helping somebody get to the next level of development can be very rewarding and good for business. If, for whatever reason, the relationship between you and the student isn’t ideal, that’s when they go to somebody else.
You’d like to think that you connect with everybody, but the reality is that’s not the case no matter how hard to try. The important thing is to try.
The best players in the world switch coaches and the best coaches in the world lose players, so you can’t take it to heart when somebody goes elsewhere. However, developing a rapport with a player may keep that person with you longer or just ensure that person just drops by in the future for a coffee.