The United States Golf Teachers Federation®

Founded in September 1989, the United States Golf Teachers Federation began making history by training and certifying golf teaching professionals for the golfing public. By opening the door to those who previously were never given the opportunity to teach golf, the USGTF started a trend that has led the game through three decades of growth and popularity never seen before.

Today, the USGTF is the largest national organization of certified golf teaching professionals in the world. The USGTF is a founding member of the World Golf Teachers Federation® and is one of 42 member nations that make up this entity. Both federations help to establish the world’s standard for golf teaching professionals.

USGTF members can be found in all 50 states and around the world. They serve in many facets of the golf business, including teaching professionals, directors of golf, head professionals, and high-school and college coaches, among many other positions. USGTF members also have the opportunity to compete in our regional, national, and international events, along with the opportunity to network with their fellow members.

To become a USGTF member, you may select the online Associate Member course or the four-day in-person Certified Golf Teaching Professional® course.  This allows you to select the certification category that is right for you. It is not required to have any prior experience in the golf teaching industry before obtaining certification, except of course, the ability to play golf at a level of acceptability. For this reason, passing a playing ability test is required to become a Certified Golf Teaching Professional®.

History of the USGTF

By James Gilmore, Denver, Colorado
Metropolitan Tee Times

The Challenge

They said it couldn’t be done—-training and certifying golf teaching professionals. That was the exclusive terrain of the PGA of America, established in 1916. How could any other organization dare challenge tradition and compete head to head with such a Goliath of the golf industry? Furthermore, how did this entity become the largest organization of golf teaching professionals in the world?

USGTF Former President

For the answer to these questions, I asked Geoff Bryant, president of the United States Golf Teachers Federation, based in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. According to Mr. Bryant, “As a USGTF member it is important to understand the history and evolution of the organization and what prompted its founding. Our story is about taking the golf teaching profession and for the first time in history making it a separate entity unto itself. It is about providing opportunity, offering inclusion and demystifying the golf teaching profession. Having a history is what sets us apart and our story has proven ever relevant to over 35,000 golf teaching professionals around the world.” Mr. Bryant knew twenty years ago there was a market for personable, qualified golf teaching professionals. Bryant, a former ski racer and teacher, knew that some of the best ski instructors in the world attended six-day certification courses. If it worked so well for skiing, Bryant was sure it would work for golf. He was right.

Certification Courses

Nowadays, the USGTF holds 3 levels of certification with continuing education through Golf Teaching Pro magazine, the official member publication of the USGTF. In order to achieve certification, candidates may choose to attend the level of certification they prefer and successfully pass the criteria required for each level. The playing ability test also includes a division for seniors and super seniors.

Golf Apprentices

Prior to the existence of the USGTF, candidates with a desire to teach golf had to attend a three to four year apprenticeship program governed by the PGA. Ironically, these individuals did very little teaching. That’s still the case today. Most apprentices work for minimum wage and spend most of their time selling merchandise, cleaning clubs, or taking charge of tee times.

USGTF Members

Most USGTF members are entrepreneurs, well educated, and successful in other areas of life. What’s more, they all love to teach golf. Because of their experiences from various walks of life, USGTF members find employment or create their own. They occupy all aspects of the golf teaching industry from head professionals at private and public golf courses, to those working at driving ranges, golf schools, indoor facilities, high schools, colleges and private teaching enterprises.

World Golf Teachers Federation

But the story does not end there. There’s a global twist to all of this. In 1989, Bryant noticed an incredible number of foreigners traveling here to the United States to get certified. Their sentiments were always the same: they wanted to teach, not work as apprentices. Their own countries were not established to provide certification. Hence, the birth of the “World Golf Teachers Federation.” Established in 1991, the WGTF is now the world’s largest organization of golf teaching professionals. It boasts over 35,000 members and is comprised of 35 member nation federations. Because of help initially from USGTF examiners, all member nations are now conducting their own golf teaching certification courses.

One Universal Umbrella

According to Bryant, “It’s simply a matter of history repeating itself. In the 1960’s and early 70’s, all ski resorts in this country hired Austrian and Swiss instructors. Similarly, tennis resorts hired Australian teachers. With the advent and growth of those teaching federations in our own country, these sports now depend mostly on United States citizens. Additionally, teaching professionals prefer to belong to an organization that represents their own country. The great thing about the World Golf Teachers Federation is that it ties us all together under one universal umbrella, so that we can benefit from interacting and sharing ideas with one another.”

WGTF Responsibilities

“All member nation federations adhere to the WGTF charter of bylaws, that has established a standard of uniformity and quality of golf instruction throughout the world. These bylaws were established to protect the rights of teaching professionals, and to provide certain obligations and benefits to each member nation. Furthermore, the WGTF is responsible for administering the biennial World Golf Teachers Cup. This is a three-day event held alternately in the United States and abroad. It brings together golf teaching professionals from all over the world, plus provides the opportunity to compete, exchange ideas, and foster life-long friendships.”

An Organization of Inclusion

“While we are on the subject of the WGTF, I might add that our organization has always been diverse in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and age. From the very beginning, the USGTF has been an organization of inclusion. This is one of our strengths that has had far reaching implications as we continue to grow worldwide.”

USGTF Member

“We are very proud for instance of USGTF members such as the late Julius Richardson, the first African American to be officially designated by Golf Magazine as one of the top 100 teaching professionals in the United States. By 81, Mr. Richardson continued to teach six hours per day year round, with a lesson agenda booked well in advance. He thanked the USGTF repeatedly for recognizing his lifelong accomplishments as a golf teaching professional and giving him the opportunity to belong to an organization of his peers. Unfortunately, this opportunity never presented itself to Julius in his younger years, simply because of the color of his skin. He has had an impact on the game that will be remembered indefinitely.

Member Benefits

I also asked Mr. Bryant about USGTF member benefits. It seems the administrative staff have all been hard at work over the years providing member benefits which are too many and varied to list in this article. However benefits include member liability insurance, group life insurance, ongoing refresher courses, a Level IV Masters certification course, educational and marketing material, and discounts on equipment with key golf manufacturing companies. Also of noteworthy interest: the annual United States Golf Teachers Cup, the biennial World Golf Teachers Cup and the World Golf Teachers Tour are extremely popular events among USGTF members.

Quality of Golf Membership

The one thing that was not difficult for me to perceive in this interview with Mr. Bryant was the passion he exhibited when talking about both the USGTF and WGTF, and the quality of their membership. Perhaps this, more than anything, characterizes the reason for the growth and success of both of these entities.

The United States Golf Teachers Federation, through innovative, effective swing mechanics and teaching methodology, establishes a national and international standard in training and certification for professional golf teachers. In addition, the USGTF provides services for its members and promotes the organization and the golf teaching profession.
As a USGTF Member, you must fulfill the obligations of being an upstanding citizen and role model to your students, your community, and to the golf teaching profession. In order to fulfill the USGTF’s purpose and maintain membership status, the organization requires strict adherence to the following Code of Ethics.
The USGTF is the largest organization of golf teaching professionals in the nation. The aim of the USGTF is to train and certify well-qualified instructors to serve the American golfing public. As the industry grows at a record pace, there continues to be a need for qualified, personable golf teaching professionals.