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May 1, 2015

Deb Vangellow: Balance Your Lessons With Demonstration, Conversation and Participation

deb-vangellowDeb Vangellow, the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals National Vice President and a GRAA Top 50 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional, is an LPGA Master Professional at Riverbend Country Club in Houston, Texas.

Deb Vangellow on the importance of balancing your lessons with demonstration, conversation and participation:
When I’m giving lessons, I like to balance the activity with a ratio of 60 percent participation, 20 percent conversation, and 20 percent demonstration, with a “tell me, show me, and then let me do” sequence. While balance in a lesson is critical for everyone, I think this is a bit more significant for women; the social piece is more important to them, particularly in group learning sessions. The imperative balance is between improving and enjoying, which is why you will notice a lot of talking and laughing in my lessons. Another question with balancing a women’s lesson is how many balls should they hit. Quality trumps quantity, especially in our Houston heat when breaks are always needed. I teach with the philosophy that I want them to transfer how they hit balls to how they play, which is why focusing on a pre-shot routine with their attention on each individual shot is very important for my students. In my opinion, less is more when it comes to teaching. In the end, I want everyone to work toward feel. My sense is that if you can’t feel, you can’t fix swing issues! We can use a variety of ways to get to feel: visual and auditory cues can transfer to feel, as well as imagery and metaphors. At the end of the day, balancing lessons are about a student-centered session with a positive balance of conversing, demonstrating and participating.

Deb Vangellow on the business impact of balancing your lessons with demonstration, conversation and participation:
Approximately 30 percent of my lessons are currently with women, but this will go up to 50 percent at certain times of the year. I gave roughly 800 lessons to women last year and have helped to make the game more enjoyable for so many of our members here at Riverbend. Last year, I passed the $2 million mark in equipment sales from fitting recommendations I gave to my students. In my tenure, 27 new members have joined at nearly $700 per month in dues, and this is all because relationships and helping to create a positive learning environment. Although our impact is sometimes difficult to track, instructors add so much to facilities to improve the bottom line.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email debbievang@mac.com