By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
As we welcome 2024 in a little more than a month, PGA Professional Chris Smeal will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Future Champions Golf, his signature junior golf program whose mission is “to inspire juniors in a positive and fun environment to take their game to the highest level through the most professionally run competition and award-winning instruction.”
Based at Stadium Golf Center in San Diego, California, Future Champions Golf and the FCG Tour have produced many stellar college golfers and some very familiar names and faces who’ve enjoyed great success on the PGA and LPGA Tours.
Smeal is a two-time Southern California PGA Section Youth Player Development Award winner, the 2019 Section Player Development Award winner and an Elite GRAA Growth of the Game Teaching Professional. He recently took some time from his busy schedule to share his story in this month’s edition of Five Questions.
Golf Range Magazine: When and where did you get your start in golf, and did you have any early influences?
Chris Smeal, PGA: I grew up in Poway, California and started playing golf with my dad and grandpas when I was 10 years old, but played only a few rounds per year at the time because I was busy playing baseball. When I was 15 years old, I got cut from the freshman baseball team and started playing golf every day. I played high school golf and then went on to play at San Diego State University.
Golf Range Magazine: When did you know you wanted to be a PGA Professional?
Chris Smeal, PGA: I decided to pursue PGA membership via the PGM Associate Program after taking an office job after college and realizing I needed to be in golf and spend time outside.
I found a love for teaching after facilitating the group instruction programming at Stadium Golf Center. I found my niche in teaching juniors and am proud of the results we’ve attained over two decades.
Golf Range Magazine: What’s trending in your current programming and instruction at Stadium Golf Center? Can you share any success stories?
Chris Smeal, PGA: I have been exclusively conducting private coaching sessions for the past few years and am considering adding some supervised practices. I host online lessons and work with aspiring college golfers one-on-one to help them set attainable goals and achieve those initiatives to the best of their abilities.
In addition to the many juniors who have discovered golf in our Future Champions Golf programs, our success extends to the biggest professional tours with names such as Schauffele, Morikawa, Theegala, Jutanugarn and many other tour pros.
Golf Range Magazine: What is your favorite part of the game of golf? The business of golf?
Chris Smeal, PGA: My favorite part of the game of golf is that it’s hard and poses a new challenge every time you tee it up. I love everything about it and could play every day if I had more time.
On the business side, it is important to figure out what’s next in golf instruction and technology and what I can do to help more people improve their golf skills. The golf business is easy if you care about people and aim to help them get better and enjoy the game more.
Golf Range Magazine: What’s on the horizon in teaching and mentorship for you as a proven leader in golf coaching and instruction?
Chris Smeal, PGA: The future is very bright with lots of exciting new things. I am launching my own YouTube Channel after my work on the Scratch-to-Scratch Series with Jerome Rufin. Our golf tour is expanding globally at a rapid rate, and we are excited about the growth and the prospect of reaching more kids.
I am also happy to be back living in my hometown of Poway.