post by Matt Wilson

3 Takeways from the PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit

There was a palpable energy at this year’s PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit.  It’s always an exciting time when 1,000 passionate coaches get together to listen, share, and speak; however, this event had something greater– nostalgia.  Throughout the 2 days, we were fortunate to hear from, and pay homage to, the pioneers – the people who paved the way for us and have forever shaped our industry.  In addition to being inducted into the World Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame- Chuck Cook, Butch Harmon, Jim McClean, Mike Adams, Jim Hardy, and David Leadbetter occupied the stage for much of the Summit.  Stories were shared, concepts were flushed out, and wisdom was passed on.  Now that we’ve had a few sleeps (and cross country flights) to stew on it, we’ve decided to share our top 3 takeaways.


As technology has moved to the forefront of coaching science, it has become easy for us as coaches to try and do too much, especially given the vast quantity of information that is now available at our fingertips.  The challenge is to now take in all that information, digest it, and make the necessary intervention to positively shift a player’s performance in a way that is relevant to them. Having the opportunity to watch the likes of Jim McLean, Butch Harmon, Sean Foley, and Chris Como utilize technology in such a fashion (albeit a small sample size in a rather unnatural setting) certainly gave us insights as to how to do that effectively.

ACTIONABLE:  See how little information you can share to help a student achieve their objective.  Start externally and slowly work your way internally.  Oftentimes, describing the movement in abstract, or in terms of its desired effects, is more effective than highly specific technical jargon.

“Over-coaching can be more harmful than under-coaching.  Keep it simple.”- John Wooden


Learning is a process that has no end-date.  We feel like it is really easy to understand the previous statement, but much more difficult to live it.  Chuck Cook, however, not only verbalized his commitment to continual self-improvement, but rather, demonstrated it by attending Henry Brunton’s seminar on ‘Building a World-Class Junior Program’.  As someone at the top of the profession, he has nothing to prove; however, actions like these make Chuck such an outstanding role model to young coaches like us, and help him stay ahead of the curve.

ACTIONABLE: Budget 15-30 minutes each day, to read and reflect.  Small steps in the right direction can take you a very, very long way.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”- Mahatma Gandhi


Some of the most wisdom-filled moments at the Summit occurred during panel discussions when they were asked reflective questions regarding the history and current state of instruction.  Their point was this – golf has had many great champions, very few of whom had the benefit of growing up with the technology that is available to today’s athletes.  However, with all the great technology today, it’s foolish not to use it.  David Leadbetter said it best: “The best teachers use a combination of technology and good teaching instincts.”  We happen to agree!

ACTIONABLE: Take the time to train your instinct.  Before looking at any technological output, try and guess what you might see.  This will help you with your own error detection processes and sharpen your perception of what is happening in front of you.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”- Albert Einstein

There is always a tremendous amount of learning to extract from any event.  Sometimes it might just take a little longer to understand what it is that you actually learned.  If you attended the event, we’d love to hear your thoughts as to what you gleaned from the experience.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
– Matt Wilson

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