By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Joe McNeil started playing golf in Indiana at the age of 14 when his grandfather first put a club in his hands. A basketball player throughout high school, McNeil says he was a pretty bad golfer until he took some lessons in his mid-20s.
“Once I started learning about the game, I was breaking par and like everyone, thought I was good enough to play on Tour,” McNeil admits.
He played Indiana PGA Section events as an amateur but didn’t perform up to his liking. He did, however, make a lot of great connections in the industry in those events.
Despite his high standards and goals, McNeil was making a name for himself as a top player in the area, and as such, many local golfers started hitting him up for lessons. An IT professional by day, he was holding kids’ classes and conducting lessons after work and into the summer evenings.
McNeil recently joined a stellar list of golf professionals as a Golf Range Association of America (GRAA) Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional. As McNeil works his way to PGA Membership through the Professional Golf Management Program, he currently teaches and custom fits golfers on a private five-acre space in La Coste, Texas. Next month, however, McNeil will open his own public driving range and Trackman Range teaching facility in nearby Castroville, Texas.
His current makeshift teaching facility has an artificial turf practice putting green and room to teach private lessons and junior clinics. He picks the balls by hand after his sessions.
As for the exciting new business that he’ll open in early 2024, Short Game will offer 35 covered hitting bays, range gamification technology with monitors at each hitting station, three indoor Trackman iO golf simulators, two teaching bays with Swing Catalyst Video Analysis, club repair services, SAM PuttLab and PuttView technology to better teach the art of the flat stick. The clubhouse itself will be 6,000 square feet, and yes, he’ll have a traditional driving range picker to retrieve golf balls. There will also be a 20,000-sq. ft artificial short game area, built by Southwest Greens, that will allow golfers to lock in their wedges and hit shots of up to 80 yards.
In his current setup, McNeil gives almost 1,500 private lessons a year and adds more than 200 group clinics into that schedule. He has 80-year-old clients and five-year-old students. He teaches high school golfers and helps them elevate their game to the collegiate level, offers four-day summer camps for kids and six-week introduction to golf clinics for adults. He even has Southern Texas PGA Professionals on his roster of students.
McNeil and his two partners will open their facility just ten minutes west of San Antonio and will seek to draw golfers from the Alamo City for long-term golf instruction and custom fitting services that will foster many vital relationships to help their new business grow.
His new facility will enable McNeil to expand upon his existing programming and create new opportunities for golfers to learn the game. From short-game clinics to putter fittings, and junior camps to corporate events, McNeil has plans for growth that will bring golf to the forefront of life in Castroville. And as an award-winning teaching professional already, the future looks bright for Joe McNeil and his long-term goals in golf. We also wish him well as he and his wife Laci welcome child number seven into the world.