March 8, 2021

Suzanne Strudwick: Coach Students Short Game Creativity

Suzanne Strudwick, the 1993 LPGA Rookie of the Year and 2011 & 2012 PGA Tennessee Section Youth Player Development Award Recipient, is the Head Women’s Golf Coach at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee and the PGA Founder of GolfAcademyONE and Co-Founder of Junior GolfAcademyONE, at Fairways and Greens Golf Center, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Suzanne Strudwick on the importance of coaching students short game creativity:
As the Head Coach of the Women’s Golf Team at Carson-Newman University, I teach many budding young players. I also have a good deal of high school players on my student roster through my teaching business at Fairways and Greens Golf Center. The most prominent and far too common player profile I see among these 15-22 year-olds is a one-dimensional short game. One of my biggest goals with these players is to change their thought process around the green, broadening their options, giving them a multi-dimensional short game that can take them to the next level of competition and success. Adding creativity to their shot selection will give them options they haven’t had before, aiding in lowering their stroke total from within 100 yards of the putting surface. Their young age usually provides a convenient level of open-mindedness on their part, allowing for constructive progress to occur. I teach them not to rely on only one club in their short game. With an array of variables, including lie, length of chip, pin position, and green terrain and speed, students are encouraged to consider the many trajectories, ball flights, landing spots, and degrees of spin applied that will result in the golf ball ending up as close to the hole as possible. These shots are often pressure-filled, and helping students overcome that anxiety, helping rid them of fear of failure, is a vital aspect of a highly-competitive golf game. During our on-course sessions together, I will disallow their go-to shot around the green, forcing them to try something else – it’s the only way they’re going to learn new shots and become adept at performing them. Students start to understand that they do have options, that it is okay to fail while learning, and a variety of shot options will make them better players.

Suzanne Strudwick on the business impact of coaching students short game creativity:

Being unafraid to implement more creativity, including lob shots, bump and runs, and a something in between makes them want to practice more, as adding shots to their game becomes as exciting as adding new clubs or playing a new course. They shouldn’t be afraid of change; they should be able to use all their wedges, as well as their irons down to the six or seven. With this philosophy, players can approach every scenario with an increased level of confidence that they have the shot they need in their bag at all times. There are also benefits to our facility in teaching with this mission and philosophy in mind. We sell a lot of clubs, as students fill in the gaps in their wedges, and of course, as they buy in to this concept, they desire more lessons.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email