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April 30, 2021

Chris Hatzke, Sam Smit and Daryl Parenteau: Use Your Practice Facility as a Recreation Location


(pictured left to right)
Chris Hatzke is a PGA Associate and the Head Professional and Sam Smit is the PGA Director of Instruction at Paradise Valley Golf Course in Fairfield, California. Daryl Parenteau is the PGA Head Professional at Rancho Solano Golf Course in Fairfield, California.

Chris Hatzke, Sam Smit, and Daryl Parenteau on the importance of using your practice facility as a recreation location:

Two years ago we launched the Fairfield Golf Academy here at Paradise Valley. The goal was to help all kinds of golfers, ranging from juniors taking up the game to low handicap players looking for the best technology to take them to the next level. But once COVID-19 hit we realize we had a larger purpose: to be a vehicle for much needed physical activity for the kids (and adults) in both our academy and the Rancho Solano Golf Course six miles down the road. We really wanted to expand our program offerings for juniors and women. We challenged Sam when we first started the academy to create a place where PGA Jr. League would be as popular as our local Little League baseball team. We wanted sponsorships, the whole nine yards. Solano County Junior Golf (a non-profit organization) has been very generous and helpful, especially through collaborations with the Vacaville Boys and Girls Club, where Sam made a couple visits to let kids try out the game in a comfortable setting before bringing those interested to the course. People were challenging us to do more programs. Those programs have taken off. What we realized is that more than even golf, these programs were acting as essentially gym classes for these kids. One misconception is that junior golfers can only handle one sport. In fact, implanting sports-related games and drills will help with balance, hand eye coordination, and footwork.

Chris Hatzke, Sam Smit, and Daryl Parenteau on the business impact of using your practice facility as a recreation location:

When demand exploded, we expanded our offerings. Every weekly women’s workshop filled up. Same with our half-day junior camps, featuring six-to-eight students at each course. Sam’s lesson revenue quadrupled. Our PGA Jr. League program grew from roughly 12 kids to more than 36 participants across four teams. This academy soon served as these kids’ physical education class or recess during school closures due to COVID-19. Furthermore, with limited after-school activities like basketball or baseball. this was a great time to implement other sports into the junior program for the Fairfield Golf Academy. For instance, implementing soccer nets helped the kids with footwork, while baseball helped with hand eye coordination, which helps to teach proper wrist movement. Improving all these skills will only help the student become more athletic. This got them (both the kids and parents) out of the house. Later in 2021 we’re planning to launch women’s golf schools and a PGA Jr. League team primed for competition. Our practice facilities include a performance and clubfittting studio, with plant so continue to improve the space to create a true recreation facility.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email Chris Hatzke at dahatman11@yahoo.com, Sam Smit at golfpride1974@gmail.com or Daryl Parenteau at dparenteau@kempersports.com.