By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
As golfers in many parts of the country endured the cold of winter, looking forward to a bright and sunny spring full of golf, those plans were quickly halted in their tracks as the season finally arrived. Many golfers who anticipated hitting the links in March found themselves unable to play and were disengaged from their teachers and golf instructors. However, in the midst of the global pandemic and the immense burden and plight it inflicted upon so many people, golf professionals did their part to keep members and students involved and thinking about golf, if for no other reason, to distract them from the reality they were facing on a daily basis.
The teaching professionals at GOLFTEC kept in touch with their clientele by way of a program aptly entitled #StayGolfReady. Through this program, GOLFTEC professionals conducted free virtual golf lessons, offering swing tips and discussing concepts that would help golfers when they were again able to walk the familiar fairways of their local club or public golf course. “#StayGolfReady was basically an opportunity for us to still interact and coach our students while we couldn’t be with them,” states Nick Pelle, the Center Manager and Director of Instruction at GOLFTEC, in Plymouth, Minnesota. “We essentially created virtual lessons, which allowed a student of ours to submit a swing or swings to us, and then using our teaching software [and iPads], we were able to do a Zoom call with them and give them a virtual golf lesson.”
Students would submit one or more videos of their swing either via the GOLFTEC website, through their existing student portal, or over social media using the #StayGolfReady hashtag. The software enabled GOLFTEC coaches to analyze video submissions using lines drawn on the screen and through comparisons with the swings of featured Tour pros, while providing audio analysis and explanation of the instruction being provided. Through these virtual lessons, coaches engaged their existing students and established relationships with new ones during the most turbulent and uncertain months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the content was easily accessible to the students through the GOLFTEC student portal for later reference and follow up.
The offering of two free virtual golf lessons (to GOLFTEC students and non-customers as well) was implemented at the beginning of the pandemic’s stay at home orders and went through the peak of the quarantine. It was promoted through social media and local commercials, encouraging current GOLFTEC customers to reengage with their coaches, while inviting golfers not already learning the game through the GOLFTEC platform to take advantage of the opportunity as well.
Through these 20-minute sessions, students were able to improve their skills, re-establish a sense of normalcy in their lives, and take their minds off the reality of the day. At its core, #StayGolfReady was GOLFTEC’s way of doing its part for others during a global crisis. In the big picture, for the coaches who dedicated their time and efforts to keep the game in the minds of so many golfers, it would be fitting to see their lesson books full of excited golf students, old and new.
Going forward, Pelle sees the value in virtual golf instruction, “I can see this always being a product that we offer,” he said, adding that online lessons could be a new source of revenue for coaches and a convenient method for students to learn the game. “This is a way we can check in [with students] a little more frequently and make sure they’re on the right track.”