November 2, 2017

John Sikes: Form Long-Lasting Relationships by Creating a Relaxed Learning Environment for Your Students

John Sikes is the PGA Director of Instruction at the John Sikes Golf Academy, located at Hollytree Country Club, in Tyler, Texas, where he is also PGA Director of Golf. He was the 2016 PGA Northern Texas Section East Texas Chapter Teacher of the Year and earned the same honor section-wide in 2012. He is an 8-time chapter Teacher of the Year and 11-time chapter Player of the Year.

John Sikes on the importance of providing a relaxed, welcoming learning environment for your students:

As golf instructors, we get comfortable in our craft and on the lesson tee. After all, sharing our knowledge and helping students improve becomes second-nature. However, some students don’t have that level of comfort when they take a golf lesson or begin a series of lessons. It is up to us to ensure they are relaxed and make them feel that you are there for more than just the lesson time. Convince them that you are their teacher, that you will be there between lessons to answer questions and guide them on the right path to improvement. Interaction with students is vital to a long-lasting relationship. To ease their initial nerves, I engage them in conversation about topics with which they are comfortable. Make them feel you are their friend. Putting them in their element helps the nerves dissipate and allows an increased focus on golf. We all know that for most casual golfers, multiple, goal-oriented lessons, with structured practice are the keys to real progress. Making them comfortable, addressing their frustration, and offering concise communication help in student-retention. Between lessons, I provide workable drills that aid in achieving their goals. I also offer what I call “Quick Looks” between lessons. If they have a question or want me to take a look at something they’re working on, I will work a few minutes into my schedule to accommodate their request. It’s just another gesture that shows I’m in it for the long haul, if they are. This partnership goes a long way in their progress as golfers and mine as a teacher. Consistent lesson revenue is an important part of any teaching business. Whether teaching is your primary function or a relative side-note to a plethora of additional management responsibilities, increasing lesson income can help make or break one’s golf season. It’s not always easy getting new students; taking these steps has helped me retain mine over the years.

John Sikes on the business impact of providing a relaxed, welcoming learning environment for your students:

The business impact of successful work as a golf professional is not always represented by a number or definitive statistic. Clearly stated, the best way to get new students is by word of mouth, essentially having your current students do your advertising for you. Personal referrals are vital, and the steps I detailed above are my way of implementing the referral process. I am teaching more than thirty hours per week, and ensure that I am available for my students. I have built a large clientele through mutual feedback and respect. Having achieved this success at several golf facilities throughout my career, I am convinced that this personal approach works. I simply ensure the care I have for my students is demonstrated in our interactions and communication.


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