Taylor Lambertsen

Taylor Lambertsen

First Tee Greater Chicago

3701 N. Recreation Drive

Suite 2

3701 N. Recreation Drive Suite 2, Chicago, Illinois 60613, US



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Please indicate past awards won/recognitions:
Other (Indicate specific awards below in 3-a)

Other awards won:
US Kids Golf Top 100 (2021, 2022) GRAA Top 100 Grow the Game Award

Total number of individual lessons given per year:
Male: 100
Female: 200
Junior: 200-300

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):
The 2023 season is coming to an end here in Chicago but looking back at all that was accomplished this season has been tremendous. I have been with the First Tee as their Director of Instruction and Program Director for our North Region of the state for the last year and a half as well as taking on a new role as Director of Instruction at Briarwood Country Club. Both roles have helped me continue on my journey of growing the game. To start my 2023 season, I was selecting students for national opportunities that they could be a part of for First Tee. These included opportunities like, participating in the Chubb Classic Senior PGA Event, Pure Insurance Senior PGA Event, Caddying at the BMW Championship, Leadership series at Arthur Blanks ranch in Montana. All of these opportunities came with hard work, dedication and leadership within the organization. At First Tee, it is not all about the game of golf but learning life skills through the game. Teaching things like dedication, grit, perseverance, a go to team and more is crucial in developing young players. We pride ourselves on creating a strong, confident player who can navigate challenges and life with a set of skills they learn with us. I have many students who are great examples of a strong player and great student. Jeremiah is one of my standout players who was apart of the PGA Superstore Leadership Series in spring of 2023. He was selected to attend the Leadership Series in Montana at Arthur Blank’s Ranch. Below is a bit of his story and how he is now truly a part of the game.

Jeremiah A. has been a part of the First Tee Program for the last year and a half. He began taking lessons for the sole purpose of using golf to help him with opportunities as he gets older. Jeremiah said, “I need to know how to golf to swing deals when I am in the corporate world.” He is not wrong as golf has opened so many doors for him already. Jeremiah began as a baseball player looking to get into golf and reached out to me as his mom works for a partner of ours. He came in for the first lesson and I could not have been more excited to work with his swing. He had so much speed and enthusiasm to get better. Jeremiah kept coming back and we worked on his swing and course etiquette throughout the winter months. He gained the confidence to try out for his golf team and made the team this year. He made the 2023 Team and was playing in every match leading the way.
Jermiah was a part of the PGA Superstore Leadership Academy. He had to complete a project on his career goals for later in life. The project and presentation earned him a spot in PGA Superstore’s Leadership Series in Montana at Arthur Blank’s Ranch. This was the first time that he ever traveled out of the state on an airplane and the first time that he has ever seen mountains. We were getting text messages filled with pictures and videos of his time out there playing golf. It was a giant step as he continues on his personal journey. Jeremiah has attended social events at the BMW Championship and spoke about his experience at the Ranch and our program. Jeremiah is now a coach for classes and also helps with lessons when we have more than a few children. He wrote: “If it wasn’t for Taylor giving me the chance to play golf, I wouldn’t be standing here to tell my story.” If it wasn’t for the bond that Jeremiah and I created through the game of golf, we would not be where we are today!

He is one of the many examples of a player who continues to inspire others. Each year, I select 30 junior coaches who help lead classes and summer camps at First Tee. These coaches come from all over the Chicagoland area and spend all day with children. We have programming 6 days a week in the summer months and continue to add more each year. Junior Coaches work with kids from as young as 4 years old to 18 years old. They learn how to teach the game and see the role I play with juniors looking to advance in their golf career. Many are looking into what the PGA Program in college looks like so they can see what avenues there are. Inspiring these coaches to do the same that I do everyday has been very rewarding.

There are several organizations that we partner with to help teach the game of golf, Sunshine through Golf, Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), Girls Inc. Laureus, Chicago Public Schools, KPMG Partners, Evans Scholars, Western Golf Association, Lurie Childrens Hospital and more. Sunshine through Golf is a program where special needs children and adults learn the game and participate in the Special Olympics Golf Tournaments. It is one of the most fun programs that we work with as they are so positive and love the sport. CAPS is also a program that we continue to work with weekly. They come to our Waveland Facility as shown in the video attached. These children come from a very underserved community and golf has become their outlet. They come each week with smiles on their faces ready to work on games and show us their skills they are working on. Being a part of all of these programs allows me and the other coaches to create a bond with players to help grow the game.
One of the highlights this year was participating and leading events at the BMW Championship. We provided a Junior Golf area for all participants at the tournament at Olympia Fields. I brought in partners like KPMG and their program schools along with CAPS and Girls Inc. All the participants were brought through our tent and had the opportunity to meet players like Jon Rahm, Colin Morikawa, Eric Cole and more! They had a blast being out there and seeing what it is like to be at a PGA Tour Golf Tournament. We showcased the facility and all the cool things that they could be a part of while there. I was able to lead a clinic with PGA Tour Player, Eric Cole. We led the juniors through some fun activities and golf shots which they loved spinning a wheel to find out what shot was next.

During the BMW Championship, we also opened our new facility at Harborside International Golf Course. We have a fully redesigned indoor space that is now perfect for teaching in the winter months. We had PGA Tour Players, Nick Hardy and Gary Woodland be a part of the grand opening. They bonded with our juniors and had long drive contests against each other and the coaches. To be a part of this growing community of golfers and juniors is something I would never have imagined when I first started playing. To be where I am now, inspiring the next generation of golfers with these PGA Tour Professionals is something I could have only dreamed of.
Female retention has been a struggle for golf specifically and it has been my goal over the past year to retain many of the girls that I work with. This summer we saw a 30% increase in our female participation at First Tee, due to girls wanting to bring their friends who can learn the game too. It has created all girls classes for us because they feel they can empower each other. So many of the girls have found their best friends out of this game and I am so excited to see where it takes them.

Briarwood Country Club has brought me on the team to help grow their women’s programs. I started in April of 2023 with the staff there each week delivering hour and a half women’s clinics. For the first time in over 20 years, they had over 50 ladies come out for this clinic. We made it fun despite the Chicago weather in the spring, rainy and a bit chilly. Each week we focused on a series of fundamentals that progressively led to them playing on the course. Since then, I have stuck with it and now teach over 40 of the ladies that have been playing all summer. It has been a tremendous effort to keep them going and enjoying it like we all do but making it fun and social was the key for them sticking with it. Starting a new league for the beginners that is only 3 or 6 holes just so they can get out and play was very instrumental in their success. I have been working with many of them during playing lessons and to see their improvement and excitement has been very rewarding. Being with them as they make their first par or big drive or long putt has been a highlight.

Overall, this year has been one of the most rewarding seasons. The smiles, laughs, calls and texts to tell me about the success a player is having, has only made me fall in love with this game even more. Being a role model for so many is something I am so proud of and will continue to do for many years to come. I can not wait to see what 2024 has in store with the opening of our third facility specifically designed to help grow the game of golf!

Please share any programming you have made to keep your customers & students engaged:
Have you ever had a fun golf lesson that has stuck with you for years and years? Or how about a round of golf that has kept you coming back for more. Even better, how about a coach that has made a lasting impact on you? One of the most exciting parts of being a coach is the excitement and love for the game the students are building and the relationships that form from this crazy game. As one of my students said, “Coach Taylor makes the game of golf fun even when it’s so hard to hit the little white ball into a hole over and over.” Over the past few years, I continue to evolve while helping juniors and adults discover the fun and fundamentals of the game of golf.
Many of the juniors I work with play in weekly tournaments across the Midwest and the country. Explaining how important weather conditions are, what to bring with you as well as an explanation of where the course is located, is something new that I have been working on with juniors. There are times where they are heading to a different state that has a different type of grass that they are not used too, or altitude changes that one might not understand how to alter the distance of their clubs. Working with them to create a plan and understand what is in front of them has been very successful for their performance.

Post Round Wrap Ups
Tournaments can be challenging and keeping a positive attitude can be tough at times. When a player participates in a tournament, they are asked to follow up with 5 positives from their round before we get into the score and details about their performance. As the coach, I want to know the best parts of their round and how it impacted their attitude and play. Many of my students have started a journal from the start of the season to the end of the season of their journey. They can see where they started and how much they have improved throughout the course of the season and what else is still in front of them. One of the positives that comes from this is what we need to work on in the next lesson. If it is short game, then we head over with some drills. If it is full swing, off to the range for some target and distance control. Lastly, if it was putting, here comes the around the world challenge and 3,6,9 distance putting. Each of the students know what to come in with that they want to practice which helps set the tone for lessons.

Coaches play a special role in a player’s journey. One of the enjoyable parts of being a Director of Instruction is tailoring a lesson to the player. A young child may not understand what inside to out means when explaining a swing path. I use other sports and activities to help imagine what that could mean. For example, if a player is in baseball, I ask the player to bring the club back to the catcher’s mitt. If they play hockey, I want them to show me what a slap shot looks like. If they are a cheerleader, how do they hold their arms in the herkey jump position, left arm raised above their head while their right arm is bent at a 90 degree angle. If they pulled their left arm down to connect with their right arm, they begin the correct position for the backswing. They may not be jumping high in the air, but they are going to use that power for the downswing.
An adult may learn the swing differently than a child. An adult may of played the game years ago and wanted to pick it up again, or they are a beginner and want to see what this is fun game is all about. Here and there, you see the novice golfer that is skilled. An adult may have some past injuries that make it hard to swing or rotate so learning new ways to help them discover their swing is very important. Creating a lesson plan to each player is helpful to them, golf is not about just one away of teaching but the thousands of way you can learn it. Finding the right teacher is just the start of a players journey to making the game fun. Working with them and giving them feedback on a lesson has been a game changer for them to continue practicing on their own. They can see what positions to look for and how to practice a drill when alone on the range. Providing feedback to a player is key to their improvement.

Communication with Players
After each lesson, parents or adults receive feedback and a drill or video to look at before the their next lesson. I find this important because parents can see what I am working on with their child as we see get together weekly or biweekly. They also have a drill to work on for the time in between lessons. For adults, they can see where the impact positions or paths of their club in a video and practice the same as we were in the lessons. This has helped engage the player more on their own time before heading back to a lesson without practicing in between lessons. An added bonus to this is, receiving videos during the week looking for additional feedback. This has proved that players are out there practicing and wanting to get better as we go along.

Playing Lessons and Caddying
As a Director of Instruction, seeing players in action is how you see the flaws. Players may be strong off the tee but lack alignment on iron shots and miss the green. Sometimes they might three of four putt but are great on the practice green. Being out there allows you to see them in their own element, as one would say, see the highs and the lows. Part of my coaching style has been about working with the player in their element. I have had the privilege to be a caddy for many juniors at their tournaments and see what goes on. One thing they have all taken away from the tournament is, two words, TRUST IT. Before each shot, players are told to trust they got it. They know how to swing, they know they have the right club and they just have to swing it. It has allowed the players to not doubt everything going on around them. The trust they build within me as their caddy and them knowing they got this is what comes out with so much confidence. With adults, seeing them in a social tournament, guest day or even a playing lesson gives me all the same feedback. We learn their strengths and weaknesses and we take it back to work on. Being out there with any student helps tailor your next lessons and their path forward.

Being an engaged coach means a lot of things. Teaching and learning while still falling in love with a little white ball going into a very small hole is a tough thing to do. When you have the right coach, support system and love for the game, it isn’t too hard to do!