PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Dec. 24, 2004 – With more than 800 critics from around the world assembled in the grandstands, presenters were under the glare of an intense spotlight at the ninth PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, Dec. 8-12, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
By all accounts, their messages were well received by attendees at The PGA of America's largest educational event. PGA Professionals from 44 states along with teaching professionals from 13 countries gathered as the Summit's theme, "The Power of the Individual/Instructor," flowed from one presentation to the next.
"It was an extremely good choice of themes, because today's golf game is powerful to the instructor and to the individual who plays it," said PGA Director of Instruction Rick Martino, who guided the Summit from its planning stages through its conclusion last weekend. "The people that were here weren't just demonstrating ways to teach, they were demonstrating the whole powerful interaction between instructor and student -- whether it was a Tour level player like Beth Daniel, or the rank amateurs, or whether it was the highly-skilled ball strikers that the University of Pittsburgh showed in their power sequence, all the way down to the people who took the 10-minute lessons in the Play Golf America Day.
"They covered every spectrum possible in that day. The teachers responded and the people responded. We offered literally a total package of instruction."
Craig Shankland of Ormond Beach, Fla., the 2001 PGA Teacher of the Year, was a Summit presenter giving one of several "live lessons."
"Every one of these Summits has been terrific in my opinion, because you take something away from every one of them," said Shankland. "I think this one, of all of the Summits that I've been to, has been the best one. We've learned from every one of them, but this one is packed with information. And, if you don't take something away from this, you have your eyes blocked.
"I've been teaching 45 years, and today was phenomenal," Shankland continued. "Every day was inspirational, watching other teachers, their mannerisms and how they go about dealing with individuals and their communication skills. What it does is it excites you to go back to take another look at yourself to see if you are really doing the job that you could be doing. It moves the standard up."
Shankland said the Summit theme and the presenters were "right on message."
"Today's machine that swings the club is 10 times stronger than it was a decade ago," said Shankland. "That's because instead of being scared of pumping iron and doing phenomenal exercises and losing your putting touch, now we see players who are like linebackers who have a magical touch."
Joy Bonhurst Smith, PGA director of instruction at Chevy Chase (Md.) Golf Club, watched from the grandstands as her student, Bailey Scherer, was being taught by PGA Professional Suzy Whaley.
"The Summit was just great," said Smith, a PGA instructor for 15 years. "I always learn something, watching and listening and seeing how people would attack different swings. I think that this whole atmosphere was unbelievable. I teach about 50/50 men and women, and when Suzy taught Bailey she attacked it a little bit differently than I did, but we were working on the same things."
LPGA Hall of Famer Beth Daniel appeared the final day with sports psychologist Dr. Rick Jensen of Boca Raton, Fla. It was the second straight Summit in which the duo teamed for a presentation.
"I think it is easier to present on the long game," said Daniel. "Rick Jensen is a very good speaker and presenter. We've known each other for six years and have become friends. I enjoy coming back. It's a great chance to give the teachers something to take back. I agree with Rick that we need to get away from being so technical, using these cameras and comparing people to swing models. We need to get away from that and give them skills that they can take to the golf course."
"I think that it's more fitting for me to stay as a coach," said Jensen, who made his fourth Summit presentation. "I concentrated on the short game this year and tried to instill to the instructor how they can be practice coaches. I'm passionate about changing that paradigm that teachers don't just get behind a video camera and talk diagnostics and an assessment of what's broken and what you should be doing differently. But rather, they should get involved in the training side of making players better. Get involved in their training and practice efforts."
Martino said the second consecutive all-outdoor Summit continued to produce an optimum learning experience.
"The PGA Village and the PGA Learning Center are the home of The PGA of America. Everybody out there -- even if they were from a foreign PGA -- was treated like a member here," he said. "They were having a good time. The staff did a fabulous job, and I have heard nothing but good things about the Summit. Having had the Summit in the same site twice, I think that we were rid of the little problems. The stadium was set up ideally to watch ball flight, and to watch the instructors. The jumbotrons gave you the close-ups. It really was a perfect venue for this event, and if you missed it, sorry, because it was terrific."
The PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, which originated in 1988, was co-sponsored by Golf Pride Grips and the TaylorMade Golf Company. Kolter Resorts was a Summit patron.
The PGA of America, founded in 1916, is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the game of golf while continuing to enhance the standards of the profession. The Association is comprised of more than 28,000 men and women PGA Professionals who are dedicated to growing participation in the game of golf.
Source: The PGA