October 5, 2018

Tom Garner: Teach Your Students the Philosophies and Methods of Successful Golfers

Tom Garner, the 2017 PGA North Florida Section Teacher of the Year, is a PGA Teaching Professional at the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy, at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, in Orlando, Florida.

Tom Garner on the importance of teaching your students the philosophies and methods of successful golfers:
When you play golf for a living as I have done, you strive to learn what works and what doesn’t work, both physically and mentally. You may tweak something in your swing, change an approach to putting, or place extra focus on staying positive and keeping a good frame of mind.  Once you find what works, it is important to stick with it. Golf is a difficult game, as we know, to consistently play well. Students seem to beat balls for hours on the range without a real good plan of how to train properly. It is vital that they learn to practice with a purpose. At the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy, we teach with a philosophy of simplicity and mastering the basics. We abide by Mr. Palmer’s idea of keeping instruction simple so students can not only comprehend the concepts, but apply them on the golf course. Taking a good percentage of the instruction on the course is a good way of bridging the gap between hitting on the driving range and scoring on the golf course. Playing lessons are a good diagnostic tool for the professional to highlight the vital shots that directly lead to lower scores, particularly those from 120 yards and in, chipping around the green, and overall shot selection. We stress that students have a good game plan, go through a pre-shot routine, match their strategy to their skill level, and use good course management. A tool I use regularly is a standard round evaluation sheet. Tracking the player’s statistics helps me identify their strengths and weaknesses. We can then devise a practice plan to help them achieve their goals. Through these proven methods, my students continue to improve and lower their scores. When students see first-hand what is in store for them, they are more likely to commit to effective practice and dedicated attendance of their scheduled lessons.

Tom Garner on the business impact of teaching your students the philosophies and methods of successful golfers:
Finding what works and reinforcing those concepts is a proven teaching philosophy. Who knows better than Mr. Palmer what it takes to make someone more comfortable around the game and more proficient playing it? We do perform several tasks on the practice tee utilizing V1 video software to reinforce some of the ideas we communicate. It often helps students to actually see what we’re talking about. So, between our time on the course and the focused time spent on the range, we are efficiently using our lesson time with the desired results in mind. The round evaluations that students send me help determine our immediate course of action, as I analyze their progress and suggest work on the aspects of the game that are holding them back. Additionally, I recommend that my students study the mental side of the game by reading books by my mentor, Sports Psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella. I can then be assured that they are on the best path for success. This plan will ensure progress for my students so the game is more fun and they want to come out to the course more frequently than ever.


To email the author of this best practice directly, email