Michael Wenzel

Michael Wenzel

Heritage Oaks Golf Club / Northbrook Golf Academy

3535 Dundee Rd.

3535 Dundee Rd., Northbrook, Illinois 60062, US

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Please indicate past awards won/recognitions:
Golf Digest Best in State

Other awards won:
2011 Illinois PGA Junior Golf Leader, 2104 U.S. Kids Master Kids Teacher, 2019 Golf Digest Top 40 Under 40

Total number of individual lessons given per year:
Male: 275
Female: 100
Junior: 850

Total number of individual clinics given per year:

Please indicate any Growth of the Game initiatives your facility/academy has launched over the past year (please give specifics on such programs):
Over the past year to increase participation in our Adult Golf Clinics we shortened the number of sessions from 5 to 3, while keeping the same amount of instruction time. This allowed us to introduce more students to the game, as classes were available more often when people were most interested in taking up the game. We do one session focusing on driving and chipping, one session on irons and putting, and one session on the course to help students transfer skills.

We also launched a Sips and Tips clinic series to give our customers a chance to meet our instructors in a social environment and learn a few basics of the game. In addition, we bring in a local wine retailer to help out.

This summer I decided it would be best to bring our PGA Jr. League program entirely in house since we reached full capacity on the first day of registration. This helped expand the program participation by 20 players with future growth expected next year. At the conclusion of our PGA Jr. League I added a Parent/Child Tournament where the parents played against the kids using the same format. This was well received and helped increase participation for our fall leagues.

Please share any programming you have made to keep your customers & students engaged:
During the winters to keep adult players and students engaged we started a simulator golf league which I oversee. The goal is to give our golfers a place to play while building a sense of community and filling up our simulators for rental opportunities. We have found these players also tend to take lessons as well when they hit a bump in the road.

In addition, over the winter months we run youth clinics in a gym at a local school for kids ages 3-11 using Littlest Golfer, SNAG, almost golf balls and other fun targets. We practice with the kids on driving, iron play, chipping, pitching, putting, and have them rotate through different stations each week, and this builds momentum for our spring programs. I started the program over 10 years ago, and it is always popular.

Also, during the winter we utilize a vacant building and put up three hitting stations and a putting green. I utilize the area to teach private lessons, and small group lessons to kids that are engaged in the game coming from our league programs. I’ll create different stations with each area having a different skill to work on. One of the stations we work on wedge distance control and launch trajectory using a tree made out of hula hoops. Another station is our speed training station using the Mach 3 system, and we have a putting station with lots of putting training aids and blast motion to help my students improve their putting skills. Lastly, I have two stations I use for full swing utilizing Trackman and Full Swing Kit. I have the kids play games, build skills, and compete against one another which makes it fun.

At the end of summer, we run a youth stroke play tournament for three different age and skill levels offering a 9-hole par 3, 9-hole regulation and a 18-Hole stroke play tournament. In addition we still run the parent/jr scramble each year on our par 3 course that I started in 2006. The youth club champion this past season was one of my students, and I couldn’t think of a better person to have won the championship as he works tirelessly at his game.

This fall we had a TrackMan Bullseye challenge at the club, and to help promote it I posted my score on the clubs Facebook page. This helped raise awareness for the event, and gave everyone a chance to compete with one another for fun prizes provided by TrackMan.

I also run our own in-house youth league and youth travel teams to further develop and engage our youngest players in the sport from April to October. Our in-house league is for players coming out of our clinics and camps to gain more on-course experience playing and competing in the spring and fall. The next level up is our youth travel league to prepare students for higher level junior golf tournaments and to prep for high school golf. We compete with a few other clubs locally, and this gives players a chance to test their skills on other area courses.

This past year we also expanded our LPGA/USGA Girls Golf program by offering it earlier in the spring and later in the fall. We have active and past players from the local high school team helping us out, as well as an LPGA Professional. I created the program and have been managing it for the past 12 years.