Golf season is upon us, but it isn’t too late to lower your handicap or improve your chipping technique. Making it out to the golf course can prove to be a time-consuming endeavor that throws a wrench in your day. You can improve your game (or even begin it) at home with Golf Athletics, a structured program geared toward all levels of golfers that offers a range of inexpensive remote as well as in-person classes.
Founded by PGA professional Dan Griffin, Ian Hooi and current PGA/Golf Australia Community Coach Kevin Hooi, Golf Athletics aims to find a more effective way to learn and master the sport. Before they partnered with Griffin to found Golf Athletics, Ian and Kevin Hooi were new to the game and struggling to improve.
“I would go to a golf coach, and I went through about eight different coaches in my first 18 months and probably bought more equipment than I should have,” says founder Kevin Hooi. “[In a golf lesson,] the student often walks up to the class telling the teacher what they want to work on … there lies the problem. How many student-teacher relationships do you know where you can go to a teacher and tell them what to teach you?”
During those 18 months, he observed that coaches tended to focus on tips and small fixes rather than overall progression, often due to a lack of structured programs that provide long-term roadmaps. Hooi questioned his coaches to analyze his technique and then determine the best course of pedagogy, but they simply chose an aspect of the sport, like putting or swing rotation.
“You’re not incentivized to teach a person to fish, you’re incentivized to do the fishing for them,” says Hooi. “And that’s what happens in the industry a lot.”
How Golf Athletics works
“There’s a lack of vision,” says Hooi. He wanted to have a plan to follow instead of returning for lesson after lesson, each disconnected from the previous without a clear direction or objective. “Product development and marketing is what you do when you find a gap in the market. And then you fill the gap … We saw the fact that golf was built with a really bad culture of learning. You need to practice like you are going to play. If not harder. Players practice nothing like they need for playing conditions.”.
Hooi and the others formed Golf Athletics in order to bridge that gap with a blueprint that consists of four simple steps – assessment, processing (which creates a golfing profile for you based on their algorithm), improvement and repetition.
After Golf Athletics assesses your level, they place you in one of three categories. The first is geared toward beginners, in which you’ll have a guided approach to golf in order to get a grip on the fundamentals. The second is for intermediate players, in which you’ll improve your confidence and consistency. The third is for advanced players, in which you’ll aim to lower your handicap and tweak small flaws in your game.
Philosophy versus mechanics
Golf Athletics espouses that there are two components to golf: mechanics and philosophy. The technical side involves physics and biomechanics. The rapid rate of equipment advancement has shifted the industry’s focus to the mechanical side. As a result, many players ignore how they view the game and become entrenched in one mindset.
“Game Mechanics have nothing to do with how you swing the golf club,” says Hooi. “It’s more to do with how you view the game. You’ll have golfers that have played 30 years, and not improved their outlook … and the game will just be tough. The reality is those golfers haven’t tried anything too different. They were doing the same thing thinking they’d get a different result, which we all know is crazy.”
“[Golf] is an ego-driven sport. It becomes who can hit longer, who can hit faster, and that’s all anyone ever talks about,” says Hooi. “People will come to us and say they want to hit the ball faster. And I think we’re one a few academies that asks ‘Why? Why do you want to hit it faster?’” Hooi explains. ‘Faster and longer is good, if you’re already able to putt, chip & pitch at a really high level’.
“We simply try to provide people with a road map rather than an ad hoc approach. It won’t be the coach telling you what you need to improve nor will it be the student telling us what they want to improve, instead, you will go get assessed and we will let irrefutable data and facts tell us what we need to work on together.”
A student perspective
PGA golfer James Gill, who played in the 2010 PGA EuroPro Tour and now competes in multiple International Amateur Open Championships every year, offers insight into his experience with Golf Athletics. “There is a lot in there for golfers that have not practiced full time and have not gotten professional guidance … I think it’s a good tool to get an overall picture of what direction you’re going and what you gotta work on … So at the start, [the skills test is] a good evaluator to say, ‘OK, you’re driving the ball similar to an 8 handicapper, however, your chipping is equivalent to a 24 handicapper, you need to go put work on chipping and putting.’ Once you’ve figured out exactly what you need to work on, you can then tailor the coaching from there.”
Unlike traditional golf lessons that often leave objectives at the door in favor of tidbits of advice on driving the ball, Golf Athletics makes a calculated evaluation of your game and poses suggestions for a path to success. Though they do away with handing all the power over to the client, they ensure that each student ultimately decides where and how far they want to take their training.
The best part may be the ease with which Golf Athletics slides into your schedule. “I think the overall benefit is the convenience [Golf Athletics] offers and the ability to get feedback back in a timely manner without having to schedule something,” says Gop0ill. “Everyone these days seems quite busy. Also, it’s to get targeted practice on the areas of your game that are relatively weaker.”
Visit Golf Athletics for more information on consultative coaching online, in-person if you’re in Melbourne, Australia and check out their free Blueprint Game Assessment (game assessment only, does not include skills assessment).
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