Blake Thomas, the 2020 Gulf States PGA Section Player Development Award winner and Teacher of the Year, is the PGA Director of Instruction at University Club of Baton Rouge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Blake Thomas on the importance of implementing long-term player development programming:
A commitment to long-term programming is beneficial to the student as well as the instructor. More and more PGA Coaches will tell that you that the quick fixes are often not sustainable, and the key to true progress and growth in one’s golf skills is through a methodical, planned approach to game improvement. As an alternative to the traditional three- or four-lesson packages, which I still offer and are effective when done right, I put a program in place in 2018 that requires a three-month commitment by the student and is designed for players who are seeking substantial improvement in their golf game, and are willing to put the instruction and practice time in to achieve their goals. After an initial assessment and TPI screening, and a skills evaluation using an array of the latest technology, I create a program that is specific to each player’s needs and set a road map to better golf. My goal is to determine their reason for being there and why they play the game. Goals and expectations can often be derived from that feedback. Students get four hours of instruction each month, which can be used in half-hour or hour-long increments. This guarantees at least twelve sessions with me and even reduces the per-lesson cost for the student. I usually will not allow time to be carried over from one month to the next, to encourage students to adhere to our plan and schedule. I have students who signed on to this program when I launched it and remain with me to this day. The three-month commitment is a minimum, of course, understanding that anyone who can devote more time will reap the benefits of even greater improvement and progress.
Blake Thomas on the business impact of implementing long-term player development programming:
The benefits of long-term player development programming extend beyond the student and are recognized by the instructor, as well. The more guaranteed income we can earn, the less pressure we have in attaining clients. In addition, any coach with a significant stable of students also has a significant stable of promoters. If you, as the coach, help provide noticeable results – lower scores and more enjoyable golf – they will often extend the relationship, and they’ll tell their friends. Our practice facilities allow for many in-depth and diverse coaching topics to be covered, as we enjoy an expansive practice area and four full-length practice holes. With the success I have had with this program, I implemented a spinoff in 2020 that allows for two supervised group practices per week, two hours of private lessons per month and a fitness program through a TPI-certified trainer – the three-month commitment remains a vital facet of the program. Through both long-term player development programs, I am building relationships with our members, and encouraging skill development for the future.
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