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July 26, 2021

Justin Doyle: Implement a New Student Evaluation

Justin Doyle, a 2020 GRAA Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional, is the PGA (Associate) Golf Academy Director at Woodbridge (California) Golf & Country Club in Woodbridge.

Justin Doyle on the importance of implementing a new student evaluation:

In my opinion, the first encounter with a new student sets the stage for the whole relationship. Whether the student is a beginner or a seasoned golfer, understanding their background in the game – lessons, play, equipment and fitness – provides the information I need to accurately evaluate their skills once I see them in action. Regardless of their reason for seeking golf instruction, I make it clear to them that every new student goes through the 90-minute evaluation, from which we map the next course of action. I will, however, tailor the evaluation based on the data attained. I’ve learned through my years of teaching that the first experience should be a slow, information-gathering session. I sometimes gain this information over the phone a few days prior to our first session together. This sets up a long-term game plan rather than just a one-off encounter. After all, sometimes we go in and start “fixing things” too early, entirely overlooking the root cause of the issue. It helps me learn why they’re there. In addition to the consultation, I look at their swing for 15-20 minutes and evaluate using TrackMan. I’ll then request the student conduct certain movements as part of a TPI evaluation, usually without even telling them – say the words “fitness evaluation or assessment” and the student gets uncomfortable or intimidated. After that, I will take the student on the golf course to watch them play three or four holes. It sometimes takes them aback, but the information I glean from the time on the course is just as valuable as what I learn through conversation, and it’s often more telling and honest. This combination of conversation, probing, evaluation and measurement really sets us up for success.

Justin Doyle on the business impact of implementing a new student evaluation:

With a plethora of good information in hand, I connect the dots from cause to results and prescribe the most efficient way for us to improve their golf game. After all, even with all the steps we’ve taken to gather the pertinent information needed, our efforts as golf coaches will be gauged based on how the student responds. Are they getting better? After the on-course portion, we’ll take 15-20 minutes to wind down the session and I’ll identify two or three areas to address based on what I saw and what their goals are. I look for the issues that will give them the biggest bang for their buck and result in the greatest reduction in their score. “This will be the easiest road for you to improve.” Once broad progress is achieved, we can always go back and isolate on more specific deficiencies in their game. It’s an effective method that produces results and projects students forward, always leaving the door open for a long-term plan and extended relationship.

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