January 18, 2021

Aaron Croyle: Transition from Range to On-Course Instruction

Aaron Croyle, the 2017 PGA Alabama/NW Florida Section Horton Smith Award Recipient and 2018 Section Teacher of the Year, is the PGA Director of Instruction at the Country Club of Birmingham, in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

Aaron Croyle on the importance of transitioning from range to on-course instruction:

After almost two decades of teaching the golf swing, I am confident in my ability to analyze a student’s swing and isolate the issues we need to address. With the advent of golf’s teaching technology, this analysis can happen faster than ever before, and with a personalized game plan that seeks to rectify the aspects of the swing that are hindering improvement, we can dedicate more time to on-course instruction, tackling course management and the mental game. We also place a great focus on short game, uneven lies, unusual or more difficult shots and scenarios, and the challenges that course and weather conditions present. I often travel with members and play in various pro-ams with them, and I have recently noticed a glaring disconnect from how they hit the ball on the range during sessions with me, and how they play, better yet, how they score, on the golf course. This is why I began placing a greater focus upon on-course instruction, helping them bring their range abilities to the golf course. Time spent together on the course allows us to discuss shot selection, course management, and their mental state during pressure situations. We’ll drop a few balls in some precarious situations and talk about the safe play versus a more aggressive approach, and when either one may be necessary. I ask questions to ensure my students understand our goals, as well what we’re doing to achieve them. This allows us to get very specific, rather than just discussing their game in general.

Aaron Croyle on the business impact of transitioning from range to on-course instruction:

On-course instruction is a vital part of any student’s lesson plan, as it is the place where they learn how to play the game. I don’t say this to downplay the importance of time spent on the range – you must have that time to analyze swings and evaluate clubs. But on the course is where the score becomes a factor in the student’s thought process. It keeps them engaged and enables them to put all of your other instruction into context. They get better faster, and you become a better teacher and coach. All of these factors assist in student-retention and help create new business – our lessons have increased for seven years running. I am fortunate to have 36 holes, and can usually find a spot on the course with my students. If you have fewer opportunities to teach on your course, bring the course to the range by recreating scenarios and applying the pressure that will make them better players going forward. Technology like flight monitors and simulators make this endeavor easier than ever. By keeping it fresh, my students are engaged, improving, and always looking forward to our next session together.

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