By Alexandra Braga, PGA
The golf industry has seen an influx in new and lapsed golfer participation since 2020. At Denver Country Club, we have an extremely high demand for private lessons, clinics and golf schools. In my position as PGA Director of Player Development, I am tasked with creating new and enticing programming for all of our golfing demographics. I enjoy creating new instructional elements for our operation, but often found that connections with students, retention and member handicaps were not being affected in the ways I had hoped.
As any PGA Professional has experienced, one of the biggest hurdles in player development is aligning the goals of students with the amount of work they are willing to devote to achieve them. One-off lessons don’t cut it when it comes to creating a meaningful relationship or change. Students may improve during the time they are with you in the lesson, but as the days pile up in between your time together and their next practice session, the probability of retaining the information discussed, or even remembering the swing changes, becomes smaller and smaller. To aid in student retention and improvement, we decided to move to a more connected coaching model.
In 2020, we introduced the CoachNow app into our player development programming. This app allows our golf professionals to create an open line of communication with students to better aid in the achievement of their goals. Each student has a private feed where he or she can post videos, pictures, questions or other important items. As their coaches, we can post important links, videos, voiceover lesson recaps and other tidbits to better their understanding of the changes they made.
Within this model of more connected coaching, each student receives at least two post-lesson voiceover videos, as well as any other pertinent information from the session. This adds value to the cost of the lesson or package for the student. Based on their package or subscription, the student can also post a video and receive feedback, or even ask questions and receive answers quickly.
Since initiating this new direction of connected coaching, I have noticed that my students are much more engaged in their own learning and are better able to apply the lessons learned during our coaching sessions. Many students post videos to show me their progress or to clarify points with which they are struggling. It has also resulted in fewer one-off lessons, more lesson package and subscription sales and the ever-elusive handicap reduction.
In 2021, I even began using CoachNow for clinics and golf schools. In the past, especially for ladies’ clinics, I would get requests to type up notes or even create laminated reminder cards that women could hang on their bags. Both options were very time consuming, on top of the time for the clinic itself. Using CoachNow, I can quickly create groups and disseminate important information to multiple people with the click of a button. I can easily make and send instructional videos to clinic attendees. This frees up a great deal of my time and add value for the membership. The app allows the clinic attendees to communicate within the group and has helped foster a feeling of community within our ladies’ clinics.
An unexpected benefit of this connected coaching model has been increased organization and time management on my end. Prior to a coaching session, I can look through a student’s feed to remind myself of their personal goals and practice plan. When posting videos for a student or group, I can create a hashtag within the app which makes the video easily searchable. For example, if a student and I have worked on a grip change, I can search things I have posted with #grip and then in no time add those pictures, videos and links to my student’s feed.
Finally, the app allows me to maintain constant contact with clients. As coaches, we often check in with our students if we haven’t heard from them in a while. Sending multiple personalized emails can be time consuming. CoachNow provides a way to send a quick check-in to all your students, with one button click. Instead of sending 50 emails, I can write one quick post and send it to all my students. It creates a personal touch without taking valuable time out of my day.
Switching to this connected coaching model has been more beneficial than I could have imagined. I firmly believe that we should play the role of coach, rather than instructor. Our clients place their trust in us and I feel that we are better able to foster that trust with a coaching relationship that has multiple touch points, instead of the just the golf lesson.
Alexandra Braga is the Director of Player Development for Denver (Colorado) Country Club. She has had the opportunity to work with the membership there for six years. In that time, she has been named a Top 50 US Kids Instructor, Golf Digest Best Young Teacher and GRAA Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional.