December 19, 2023

Bringing New Golfers to the Range – Jim Parella, PGA

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA

Jim Parella was a baseball player at La Salle High School in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, and didn’t pick up the game of golf until his dad got him started when he was 14 or 15 years old. He played a lot of his early golf at Jeffersonville Golf Club, a public course in nearby Norristown, where he worked as a teen. He played golf every day during the summer before his senior year and won the A flight of Jeffersonville’s club championship. He would earn the final spot on a very good La Salle High School golf team as a senior.

“We won the Catholic League championship and it was an overall awesome experience for me,” Parella remembers.

After graduating from high school, Parella headed to La Salle University in Northeast Philadelphia, where he did not play golf. In fact, after taking to the game rather quickly as a teen, Parella decided to pursue other avenues and otherwise just enjoy the college experience. Golf was not on his radar, and he didn’t pick up a club for several years.

With little idea of “what he wanted to do,” Parella left La Salle and got into sales and sports marketing. Although he was good at sales, he didn’t want to do it long-term. He started playing golf again and really got the bug.

He took a job at Valley Forge Golf Club in 2003 and had come to the realization that he wanted to work in golf in some capacity. He “worked seven days a week, taught non-stop and thought it was the best thing in the world.” Parella didn’t know anything about the PGA of America at the time, but his boss educated him on the intricacies of becoming a PGA of America Member, and he went all in – Playing Ability Test, bookwork, apprenticeships, etc. He became a Class A PGA of America Golf Professional in 2010.

After learning about the business at several golf facilities in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Parella got a call in 2021 about a position at Cedarbrook Country Club, a club at which he had caddied 30 years earlier and was a member in 2018 and 2019.

As the PGA of America Director of Instruction at Cedarbrook, Parella writes and promotes all player development programming. He builds the curriculum, trains interns who help facilitate group instruction and junior camps and teaches private lessons to members whose skill level and experience run the gamut from beginner to high-level high school and college players. With a large membership at Cedarbrook, Parella is busy year-round.

The club has one 18-hole course and a 330-yard double-sided driving range with real-grass stations and mats on one side and all grass on the other. Between the two sides of the range, there could be 50 golfers hitting balls at any one time. There’s a full-sized putting green and a short game area for chipping and bunker play, as well as a 120-yard pitching area that also has bunkers. With the increase in play industry-wide since COVID, these practice amenities often fill a void when the tee sheet is full.

Parella’s instruction includes the use of a Foresight Sports GCQuad and Trackman that help golfers hone in on their numbers and ball flight to pinpoint areas to be addressed for maximum game improvement.

The Cedarbrook maintenance team builds a tented practice and teaching facility on an outdoor patio during the winter that enables Parella to engage with his members and students on a year-round basis. With the opportunity to custom fit members all year, hard goods sales have thrived during this COVID peak in participation. In addition to lessons and fittings, they run clinics and leagues in that space, and members book simulator time online to practice and socialize with family and friends.

Parella has also increased ladies’ clinic participation over his short stint at Cedarbrook and has introduced the game to new members, as well as existing members who had not played much golf in the past.

Cedarbrook had one PGA Jr. League team when Parella came on board a few years ago and now has six teams of almost 80 junior golfers who learn and compete in the signature PGA of America program.

Parella has worked hard to be a well-rounded coach and mentor for his students. He’s a Certified U.S. Kids Golf Coach and is AimPoint Certified. He is a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Level 1 Certified Fitness Expert, is Level 2 Junior Certified and is currently finishing up TPI Golf Level 2. Finally, Parella is BodiTrak Certified in Ground Mechanics, Swing Catalyst Certified and PGA ADM Certified.

Parella was a first-time Golf Range Association of America (GRAA) Growth of the Game Teaching Professional in 2022 and was nominated for the Philadelphia PGA Section Youth Player Development Award as well. He’s up for both awards again this year, and we wish him well as he continues to “bring new golfers to the range.”