Mike Bender, the 2009 PGA Teacher of the Year, four-time North Florida PGA Section Teacher of the Year, a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and a Nike Golf Swoosh Elite Staff member, is the PGA director of instruction at the Mike Bender Golf Academy in Lake Mary, Florida.
Mike Bender on the importance of creating programs to encourage repeat students:
Over the years, I have found that a lot of students take great lessons but are then left to their own devices to practice, which can help promote bad habits. This is why I have developed specialized practice stations that allow students to be supervised by PGA Professionals while they practice. The instructors will help the students with their drills or give tips and even help them properly set up noodles and shafts for proper alignment. Additionally, we have created programs and challenges so we can keep our students engaged. Among these are our Zone Pole Skills Challenge in which we have students try to hit within different sets of poles on the range; if they hit their balls within the zones, they receive points (the more points, the better their score). We also offer a short game test in which the students hit 100 shots and are scored on their performance, and their score is converted into a short game handicap.
Mike Bender on the business impact of creating programs to encourage repeat students:
I have found that the more unique programs that we create for our students, the more likely they are to return to our academy and become regular students. Additionally, we try to keep our participating students on a schedule. For example, we try to have each student take our short game test, which is $35 per session, every two to three months so we can work with them to improve their score/handicap. Our supervised practice sessions have become very popular with our regular students and allow them to remain engaged with our academy and with our instructors.
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