AMBLER, Pa. -- Lou Guzzi, owner and PGA director of instruction of the Lou Guzzi Golf Academy at Talamore Country Club, has become the first Philadelphia PGA Professional to be named recipient of the 2013 PGA Teacher of the Year.
Guzzi, 51, a resident of Glenside, PA, will be honored in a ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in conjunction with the 61st PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL. The PGA of America Awards ceremony will be conducted in the Chapin Theater of the Orange County Convention Center.
On Thursday afternoon at the main PGA Forum Stage, Guzzi will be featured as part of a PGA Teacher of the Year Presentation moderated by The Golf Channel's Michael Breed.
Born in Philadelphia, Guzzi is one of GOLF Magazine's "Top 100 Teachers in America," who began his love for golf as a youth, designing a makeshift course near his family home. He dug a hole in the ground and used a "wiffle" ball and clubs purchased at a yard sale. At age 12, Guzzi and his late father went to a driving range, where Guzzi showed promise in the game by hitting a ball into a target to win a free bucket of balls. His first experience on a golf course came at age 17, when he and his future wife had a date to play 18 holes at Twining Valley Golf Club in Dresher, Pa.
"I had seen golf courses, but that was the first time I actually got to walk on one and enjoy it," said Guzzi. "My girlfriend, now my wife (Laurie), never played golf after that day but has walked many courses with me, taking photos. She is an artist. We have been together since that first round and are celebrating our 31st anniversary this month. You have to have a great partner to support you if you are to become a golf professional."
Guzzi turned professional in 1991, but had been giving golf lessons as an amateur long before entering the golf industry. Guzzi and the owner of Talamore developed - from the back of a paper napkin -a state-of-the-art year-round teaching facility on the practice range. With a wood-burning fireplace, cappuccino bar and cozy office, Guzzi has made it possible to provide year-round golf instruction.
"I believe that it is very important to provide a really fun and comfortable teaching environment so that our students feel great about all aspects of the learning experience," said Guzzi. "But I also feel very strongly that this award is a tool to continue to grow the game of golf and get more people involved."
Today, Guzzi's extensive student base features more than 30 men and women PGA Professionals from throughout Greater Philadelphia, some of the highest-ranked junior tournament players in Pennsylvania, and many adult players who have become club champions. But, Guzzi's top student, he said, will always be his late father, Lou Guzzi Sr., who learned the game from his son at age 50 and played golf with passion for the next 22 years until he died of cancer.
"How many can tell you that they taught the game of golf to their father?" asked Guzzi. "It was his love of the game and his ability to withstand so much pain from his illness that remains an inspiration to me. I could not share this award with him, but it has been a wonderful moment to share the news with my mother (Gloria), who turns 80 this November, my sister, Susan, and my wife and kids."
Guzzi studied the golf swing as a young amateur and started to teach his friends. "I continued to build upon that passion to teach from there. I saw the value in using video in teaching," he said.
In 1979, he captured his golf swing on 8mm film, rushed to a store to get it processed, and then returned home and studied his golf swing on a screen. As technology improved, so did Guzzi's video knowledge. He later purchased an HD sports camera, and now produces instruction tip videos weekly, presenting them on "Save Strokes by Saturday," for GOLF.com.
"Today, people send me video instantaneously from their phone," said Guzzi. "The technology now has been tremendous, I have a FlightScope launch monitor for detailed analysis but the concept of seeing yourself through video remains an invaluable teaching tool. It is the marriage between what the student feels and taking a look at the video to see what is actually real."
Guzzi is an advisory board member and Top 50 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional of the Golf Range Association of America and the PGA Magazine Advisory Board for Instruction. Prior to arriving at Talamore Country Club, Guzzi served as Flourtown Country Club head professional from 1991 to 2000, and as PGA director of instruction from 2001-06 at Experienced Golf Center in Fort Washington, Pa. He is the director of instruction for Golf Talk Live Radio Show and Inside Golf TV Show on Comcast Sports Net.
From 2009 through 2012, Guzzi was a member of the PGA Instruction Committee and currently is chair of the Philadelphia PGA Section Teaching Committee. He is a two-time Philadelphia PGA Teacher of the Year (2003, '10).
Guzzi's fascination with golf history led him to craft his personal email address - "henybogan" - after the legendary Ben Hogan. The famed golfer often answered his office phone as "Henny Bogan," whom Hogan once identified as his imaginary friend, who sat on his shoulder and spoke to him.
To build his career, Guzzi found many mentors, who helped fashion his teaching philosophy, beginning with PGA Professional Jerry Pisano of Flourtown Country Club, who gave him his first golf lesson; and Gary Hardin, now of Northampton Country Club in Easton, Pa., who gave him a lesson in 1987, which sparked Guzzi to a Flourtown club championship. "I went out and shot 64 in a practice round and followed with a 65 in the first round of the tournament. Three more rounds later, I won the title," said Guzzi. "Gary has always been there to help guide me in golf and life."
Guzzi also drew support and knowledge from past PGA Teachers of the Year Mike Malaska (2011), Michael Breed (2012), Martin Hall (2008) and Dr. Gary Wiren (1987); and with PGA Golf Professional Hall of Famer Bob Toski. Guzzi said that a large part of what he presents to his students stems from Hogan's famed book, "Five Lessons," and Tom Watson's "Getting Back to Basics."
"With all the help of these wonderful professionals, a long list that includes many members of the Philadelphia PGA Section, I am eternally grateful," said Guzzi. "You don't get to the next level in any career without great support. The knowledge and love for the game of golf that these great teachers have is just unbelievable. Their passion to share their knowledge with me and others is priceless and I try to be the best professional I can be, every day, because of them.
"I am honored and humbled by this recognition and I want to thank and share this award with the PGA of America, the Talamore Country Club family, the Philadelphia PGA Section, my entire student base, my family, my friends and God."
Guzzi and his wife, Laurie, live in Glenside, PA, and are the parents of two daughters: Amber and Crystal.
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