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May 16, 2012

Casey Brozek: Develop a Skills Evaluation on Your Range

Casey Brozek, president of the Illinois PGA Section and winner of the 2004 Illinois PGA Section Horton Smith Award, is the PGA head professional at Crystal Lake (Ill.) Country Club.

Casey Brozek on the importance of developing a skills evaluation on your range:
At Crystal Lake Country Club, our range is limited in size. We have to be creative to effectively use the space that we have, as our range is only as wide as an actual hole on the course. With help from my assistant, we created a skills evaluation at our practice facility after learning of a similar concept at a teaching seminar. We use pairs of colored barber poles to create target areas on the range. The poles vary in height depending on how far down the range they are located (15 feet for the driving target, for example). The poles are also spaced out at a desired distance for each type of shot (20 yards apart at a distance of 210-220 yards; 15 yards apart at 170 yards; five yards apart at 100 yards). In addition, we installed brick pavers at specific distances in the landing area to help in the evaluation. Having a ball land on a paver and bounce provides quick and easy feedback. We give our students a series of 10 balls for each location and for each skill, such as driving, irons and wedges. A handicap is given to the students based on their performance at each location, and strengths and weaknesses can then be discussed. Most often, evaluations are conducted at three times of the year: preseason, mid-season and end-of-season.

Casey Brozek on the business impact of developing a skills evaluation on your range:
The skills evaluation program has dramatically increased lesson income for the entire professional staff. Having now been at this club for 12 years, it is important to reinvent the lesson program every so often to capture the attention of longtime members. Since I am familiar with the swings and tendencies of most of my members, usually they seek me out for a quick, 15-minute lesson and they are off. This program has done wonders to capture their yearlong interest and financial commitment. The member who previously would only take one or two lessons a year, is now taking three, four or five lessons because of the three evaluations throughout the year. The members enjoy seeing their games improve and seeing measurable data that they can track. To encourage participation, I offer a complimentary full bag evaluation initially, which then leads to more paid lessons.