I went to an LPGA teaching professionals seminar last month, where one of the speakers talked about finding a niche for your teaching. I found my role as a teaching professional when I moved to the Lowcountry 14 years ago.
My background included being a college professor for 20 years with a doctorate degree in adult education. I began a Learning in Retirement Institute at my college for seniors looking to continue their education.
I have been teaching golf for 45 years to all ages and levels of golfers. I have taught juniors, college golfers, men and women of all ages.
When I moved to Bluffton in 2007, there were many golf professionals in the area. Many of them teach at facilities that have great technology. For the advanced golfer, I find these tools very valuable.
For the beginner and many senior golfers, however, I have found that they want simple instruction that they can understand. I know that I can make the game of golf understandable. I use simple teaching aides that are very visual as well as items that they can feel. I also send them home with notes and practice ideas.
Golf teaching has been letting senior golfers down for a long time – and they represent 60% of all the players in the world. If you are a senior, over the age of 50, you need to make sure you pick a golf professional that knows about the senior learner.
The pro must interview you prior to the lesson. They need to know if you have had any surgeries or physical limitations. Do you exercise? Have you played other sports? What are your golf goals? The pro needs to help you set realistic and achievable goals.
In 2012, I was fortunate to meet Hazel Burger. She signed up for a Starting New at Golf Clinic I was teaching at Sun City. At that time, Hazel was 101 years old. I interviewed Hazel and found out that she went to the fitness center three days a week and participated in Karaoke Club weekly, where she danced with her boyfriend.
Hazel wrote me an email to me on Jan. 12, 2014, that I saved and treasure. “Dear Dr. Jean, I am very grateful if I have helped anyone and have helped your program in any way. You have been an inspiration to me and everyone else who has been in your classes. I am so very fortunate to know you and for my golf lessons. I hope I can continue.”
Hazel passed away at age 105 and hundreds of people celebrated her life. Meeting Hazel and realizing that I made a difference in her life proved to me that I finally found my niche.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Pinecrest Golf Club. firstname.lastname@example.org; golfdoctorjean.com