September 28, 2021

Bringing New Golfers to the Range: Learn Golf in One Day with Nicole Weller

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA

Nicole Weller is an award-winning PGA and LPGA instructor and coach. She has been a mentor to many junior golfers over the years and now teaches at Pinehurst Resort. Weller recently released her second children’s golf book entitled Big Thoughts from Little Golfers: Memorable Quotes during Youth Golf Lessons. This publication follows her 2011 debut book, Stick to Sports: Let’s Play Golf, and Match Play Golf, a golf flashcard memory game she released in 2014. She also has a series of three children’s golf songs coming out: The Putting Song – The Chipping Song – The Big Shot Song. Weller has also penned numerous articles, produced a variety of golf videos and served on the Boards of several charities and non-profits.

With all these endeavors, how does she find time to teach? Weller understands that she’s not the only one with a busy schedule, and the notion of coming to the course for a golf lesson once a week for a month or two doesn’t always fit into her students’ schedules. So, she implemented a player development program aptly named, “Learn Golf in One Day”.

“Learn Golf in One Day” is a six-hour golf school that Weller created to introduce all the pertinent aspects of golf to a class of beginners, or golfers who had dabbled in the game before and are now seeking to get involved again. Currently, in its early iteration, the program is geared towards women golfers only, though Weller is open to adding coed sessions as demand warrants going forward.

Weller held two sessions in August and has one session scheduled per month through December. As her teaching schedule allows, she will consider adding sessions to the calendar. After all, within two days of Pinehurst Country Club announcing the program schedule, she had over 90 member requests to participate and the monthly sessions sold out almost as fast as they were announced. The waiting list has 30 members at the moment, but that list grows as word-of-mouth spreads about this new player development program.

Weller likens it to the PGA’s Get Golf Ready and LPGA’s Golf 101, but it takes place in one day. “Basically, we do a quick meeting, more like an ice breaker with introductions. We talk about equipment for a few minutes and discuss a little bit of history and the game’s origins. We touch on clubs they need and others they don’t need, and then we go over attire and what they should wear to the course,” Weller highlighted. “Then, we do some very basic putting instruction and I’ll have some training tools and challenges that help the ladies with proper setup and distance control. Then, we have a fun challenge for a prize.”

Weller detailed chipping as the next step, with a little bit of discussion on technique, followed by another short challenge. Weller’s approach is to provide the basic steps needed to get her students going in the right direction. It’s enough information and guidance that they can functionally compete in the challenges she presents and get on the course as soon as possible.

“Then we highlight the basic motion of the full swing, and once they can clip a tee from the ground three consecutive times, I’ll place a ball on the peg and tell them to keep the same goal of striking the tee, and they’ll get the ball in the air,” she detailed. Weller utilizes the exemplary practice facility available to her at Pinehurst, before taking a break from the action.

Weller gathers her group for an interactive working lunch to go over a manual that she has compiled over the years. “We discuss how to read a scorecard and the importance of pace of play, and answer any questions they may have.” Weller says she doesn’t go too heavily into the Rules of Golf, but will address specific scenarios as they arise. She explains different formats of play and offers ideas on getting on the course early into their education as new golfers.

“I like seeing golfers get on the course soon after their first lesson, but perhaps they play that first round with just a putter,” Weller explained. “It’s a suitable introduction to on-course play and takes pace of play out of the equation.”

After lunch, Weller takes her students to the course, where she highlights the Longleaf Tee System, and explains that her new golfers may not necessarily see a similar structure at their local course, but they can create their own starting point on each hole.

“We drive a hole first, discussing the various parts while going over the terminology. We point out where they might park their carts for the hole and explain the why of it all, as opposed to just the what.”

She gets the group playing a hole using a scramble format, possibly going to an alternate shot if her participants are comfortable. “Those are two great formats for any beginner to play when starting out.” Weller confirmed.

After playing a few holes, she celebrates her students’ success with certificates and a rendition of Pomp and Circumstance to acknowledge the hard work that went into the day. She provides a “What’s next?” sheet that highlights the next steps her students should take to further their skills and enjoyment in golf. Her goal is to get her Pinehurst Country Club members into a scramble league and have them progress to the next level as they get accustomed to the game. Many of these individuals return to Weller’s lesson tee on an individual basis to dive even deeper into the game improvement process.

The program is initially open to Pinehurst Country Club members and their guests, but Weller hopes to expand to resort guests in 2022. With many gentlemen golfers attending the plethora of golf schools that Pinehurst Resort offers, Weller sees an opening to welcome their spouses into her one-day program at the same time.

Weller facilitated the program while working at The Landings Club several years ago, and more recently at Longleaf Golf & Family Club, and had great success with the members she served at both facilities. She’d usually max the group at six students, but now allows up to eight students per session, incorporating a second instructor to assist. Like the manual she uses during lunch, the program itself has evolved over the years, and Weller understands that what worked at one club doesn’t always work at another. She conducts a survey after each class to better comprehend what went well and what might need to be tweaked here and there. Regardless of any minor changes that are made with a new clientele, Weller’s mission remains constant – get new golfers playing the game while they’re learning the game.

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