By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Take a look at the list of GRAA Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional award winners and you’ll probably recognize the faces of our recurring winners, innovative golf professionals who grow the game, build their businesses and make the game better through their hard work and diligent effort year after year.
Take a closer look and you’ll also see some professionals who are new to the accolades that sharing the game of golf with members, students and their community at large often bring. Blake Isakson is one of those new faces donning the Golf Range Association of America website, receiving acknowledgment for doing a job he not only loves but has excelled at for many years.
“I was introduced to the game at an early age by my dad, who is a good player; but I didn’t play or practice much until I was about 12 years old,” Isakson shares. “I played in my first tournament and shot 160 for 18 holes and got cut from the junior high basketball team at around the same time. Those two events triggered the spark that started my golf journey and provided the drive to continually learn and improve my game. My tournament low currently stands at 62 – proof that anyone can get better with the right focus!”
Isakson says he knew he would be a golf instructor when he was 13 years old while taking lessons from Pam Barnett at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, Arizona.
“She was an incredible influence on so many juniors growing up in Phoenix, including some who went on to play golf professionally,” Isakson explains. “I would watch her give lessons and instinctively knew that that was what I wanted to do.”
Isakson adds that he learned a lot about golf instruction from professionals like Tom McCormick, Eddie Kilthau and Tyler Kirkendoll, all great coaches with different approaches. He learned concepts and philosophies that he still implements on the lesson tee with his students.
Today, Isakson is the PGA Director of Instruction at Perfect Circle Golf, located at the aforementioned Moon Valley Country Club, and also at Jacoby Golf Course in Laramie, Wyoming.
The philosophy put in place at Perfect Circle is a holistic approach that includes:
- The movement of the club
- The movement of the body
- The brain’s impact
- Motor patterns
The Perfect Circle team believes that “when these pieces all work together, you can reach your golf goals.”
That team currently consists of Isakson, handling the technical aspects of game improvement – the golf swing, short game, putting and more, Debbie Crews Ketterling, PhD, Founder and Director of Opti Brain, providing mental game assistance and Tara Isakson, the Director of Admin and Communications who manages the administrative aspects of the business, while also working with juniors and groups as an assistant instructor.
Blake Isakson uses his many certifications and extensive education and expertise to help competitive players (including PGA, LPGA and Korn Ferry Tour players) find that elite level and new golfers get acclimated to the game, making it more fun as they get better and more comfortable with a golf club in their hands.
“This fall marks my 20th year in the golf industry,” Isakson adds. “I started as a high school golf coach and have been teaching in some form ever since, often with a special emphasis on junior golf. My wife Tara and I started Perfect Circle Golf in 2018, naming it as such because of my relationship with Moon Valley Country Club, where Pam Barnett first inspired me all those years ago.”
Isakson says his attention shifted after COVID from working with Tour players to getting back to a more junior golf focus. As a result, the technology he uses has shifted from K-Vest, BodiTrak and SAM PuttLab to alignment sticks, Foresight Sports GC3 and a new video app that allows him to share and analyze golf swings from anywhere.
“I have created a programming pathway or ‘road map’ for junior golf that makes it easy for families to engage in golf, whether the goal is to get a golf scholarship or to simply be able to create memories as a family on the course,” Isakson boasts proudly. “Part of that pathway includes running PGA Jr. League programs in two states with three different seasons, impacting 75 junior golfers this year alone.”
Isakson shared a story of two students he had this summer who were unsure if golf was really for them. The girls participated in PGA Jr. League, became friends and “had a blast.” Now, they’re both playing on the high school golf team and proudly consider themselves golfers. That’s the impact that creates sustainability in golf – a dedication that will lead the game forward.
In addition to teaching at Perfect Circle, Isakson is the men’s and women’s Assistant Golf Coach at the University of Wyoming.
“The position at the university has been a lot of fun,” he admits. “It allows me to interact with players on the full spectrum of the junior golf road map from beginner to D1 college golf.”
When asked what the future holds for Blake and the game in general, Isakson had this to say, “I think that off-course golf experiences are going to continue increasing. Brands like Topgolf, Putting World and Putt Shack make golf easily accessible to a very broad audience and will probably be the first golf experience for more and more people in the future. That being said, if we can create more gateway programs that help bridge the gap between these off-course experiences and our green grass facilities, the future of golf is going to be very bright.”
Well said, coach! Well said!
For more information on Perfect Circle Golf, log on to their website today!