Marty Strumpf, a past nominee for the New Jersey PGA Section Teacher of the Year and Junior Golf Leader awards, is the PGA head professional at Farmer Brown’s Golf Center in Farmingdale, N.J.
Marty Strumpf on the importance of listening to the students’ needs and desires:
I think you can categorize why individuals take golf lessons in the following way: Absolute beginners with no experience who want to learn the game; slightly experienced golfers who just want to get better; experienced golfers who seek consistency; experienced golfers with a specific ball contact/flight issue; and advanced skill level golfers with specific scoring/performance goals. It is vital when first speaking with the student to determine which category they fall into. An experienced golfer who tells you that they slice every drive they hit, and is ready to quit the game because of it, is probably not interested that you know their problem is not just with the driver. Do what you have to fix their drives! When you are at the end of the session, explain to them that you can help with other areas of their game as needs arise. This concept of listening carefully to the student really hit home when I attended a seminar presented by Jim Hardy. While Mr. Hardy elaborated on the concepts of the “Plane Truth,” he reminded us that the 25-handicapper who just wants to learn how to hit a draw doesn’t care if he’s still a 25-handicap! He just wants to experience seeing a ball curve in the opposite direction for a change, so give him/her what they want. Don’t go overboard or crazy, as it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Listening to the student is vitally important as it lets the student know that you truly care about what they want. That’s what they are paying you for, not just your expertise. From the teacher’s perspective, listening carefully to their wants and needs keeps you focused on each individual case. During a long day of teaching it is easy to lose focus, so by listening carefully to what each student wants your brain can formulate a specific action plan for each session. It helps you avoid just “going through the motions” of giving a golf lesson.
Marty Strumpf on the business impact of listening to the students’ needs and desires:
Listening to the students’ needs has allowed me to build a large clientele by word of mouth alone. I quickly established a reputation as an instructor who cares and listens to each student and is not trying to push a system. In my 18 years at Farmer Brown’s Golf Center I have given more than 20,000 individual private lessons without any advertising! By catering to each individual’s needs both in teaching and clubfitting, golfers know they always receive great service at our facility. This has allowed us to remain steady during difficult economic times. Individuals who come for a single lesson/fix usually wind up signing up for a series of lessons because they know I can help them in other areas. As a result, my students leave satisfied because they get what they came for.