SEASON’S GREETINGS FROM USGTF


As we head into December and the end of the year approaches, we trust that you have had a successful and fulfilling 2023, and look forward to what 2024 might bring us. We would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season and look forward to continuing to provide the best possible organization for both new and existing members. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help you with any matter related to your membership.

MAGAZINE COMING OUT THIS MONTH; MEMBERSHIP CARDS INCLUDED

Golf Teaching Pro, the annual official member publication of the USGTF and WGTF, will be mailed to all members in good standing this month, along with membership cards. The magazine is one of the most valuable resources available to USGTF members and includes information pertinent to every golf teaching professional, such as instruction, features and international news and happenings.

The recently completed United States Golf Teachers Cup is recapped, along with articles written by industry experts such as Thomas T Wartelle, Mike Stevens, Lawrence Sykkmon and Christopher Warner. Wartelle, who is mentoring his son Gabrielle, writes about “Teaching young golfers by age and ability,” while resident historian Stevens takes us on a journey to the past with “Who is Samuel Ryder and why is the Ryder Cup named after him?”

News from international federations is also prominently featured as the World Golf Teachers Federation takes center stage in this issue. The global reach of the WGTF literally covers all corners of the Earth.

The magazine will be arriving soon. Please check your mailbox for the current issue!

THE 9TH USGTF-KOREA PRESIDENTIAL GOLF TOURNAMENT WAS HELD SUCCESSFULLY

The 9th USGTF-Korea Chairman’s Cup Member Golf Tournament was held on Monday, November 13 at Club D Songnisan Golf Course in Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do. The competition was held for those who passed regional qualifiers as full members of the USGTF-Korea and amateur players recommended by full members of the league, and was divided into five professional divisions: Men’s General, Men’s Senior, Grand Senior and Women’s General, Women’s Senior, and Amateur.

Young-min Ko won the Men’s General section; Man-wook Heo won the Men’s Senior section; Yong-tae Lee won the Grand Senior and Women’s General section; Eun-joo Kim won the Women’s Senior section, and Choi Won-il won the Amateur section. Pro Tae-hyun Kwon took second place in the Men’s General section while pro Seong-min Yoo took third. Pro Won-gil Lee took second place in the Men’s Elderly section and pro Pan-ho Lim took third place.

Professional Joo-bong Sung took second place in the Grand Senior and Women’s General division, and professional Soo-jin Ha took third place. In the Women’s Elderly category, professional Gun-hwi Won came in second and professional Eul-soon Yoon came in third.

Hee-tae Lee took second place in the amateur division, and Kyung-man Kim took third place. In addition, Ki-won Jung was awarded the Model Player Award, and the winner was awarded a prize, a trophy and a certificate.

Rather than a fierce ranking competition among participants, the competition has become a place where all participants, including their partners, and game executives share their warm feelings with a smile as the participants demonstrate their golf skills.
REGION CHAMPIONSHIP ACTION GETS UNDERWAY

REGION CHAMPIONSHIP ACTION GETS UNDERWAY

SOUTHEAST – The USGTF Southeast Region Championship will be played Tuesday and Wednesday, February 20-21, 2024, at Twisted Oaks Golf Club in Beverly Hills, Florida. The course is approximately 20 minutes away from the towns of Crystal River, Inverness and Dunnellon. The entry fee of $245 includes two rounds of tournament golf, range balls prior to play and prize money. In addition to the regular prize distribution, day money and a second-day prize pool will be offered. The entry fee can be paid to Southeast Region director Mark Harman by Venmo (@MarkHarman), PayPal (markharmangolf@aol.com), or personal check mailed to 1656 Colony Dr., Ridgeland, SC 29936. The entry deadline is Wednesday, February 14.

“PRO” FILES – SHRINERS CHILDREN’S OPEN WINNER – TOM KIM

He came on with a bang to end 2022, winning two tournaments and becoming a bona fide star at the Presidents Cup. But success in 2023 came a little slower for Tom Kim until he won the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas in October.

Although he had five top-10 finishes in 2023 prior to his victory, including a second-place finish at The Open, Kim fell just short of taking his spot in the winner’s circle until Vegas. A third-round 62 propelled him to an eventual total of 20-under-par to outlast Adam Hadwin by a stroke.

Kim is only 21 years old and would be a senior in college had he taken that route. As the PGA Tour seems to get younger and younger, Kim is certain to be at the forefront of this revolution.  

“PRO” FILE – USGTF MEMBER “PRO” FILE – USGTF MEMBER TONY MCMULLIN

Tony McMullin of Cincinnati, Ohio, is not your typical Master Golf Teaching Professional. His story of how hard he worked to become one would certainly tell you that. His golf career began in 2000. He was 37 years old and had recently been forced away from his first love, baseball, by an injury. But being competitive of nature, he began to look for the next chapter he could compete in. He found it in golf.

He came home one day and informed his wife that he wanted to “get into golf.” Her response was, “Well, that’s an expensive sport. You better find a way to pay for it.” Little did they both know that golf would become more than just the “thing we got into,” as McMullin now says. Realizing that he needed a place to practice and play, McMullin found a part-time gig at a local course working the pro shop desk and washing carts. In return, he made a little cash and got to play and practice for free.

McMullin worked as a truck driver at the time. His schedule was to go into work at the trucking company at 3:00 a.m. and work until 2:00 p.m. Then, he would go to the course where he worked until 9:00 p.m., three days a week. On his off days at the course, he would practice until dark, then go home and do it all again the next day.

It all paid off. Within a year, he won his flight of a local club championship. Later that year he landed a full-time job as the assistant golf professional of that same course, and his golf career was off and running.

McMullin continued to play competitively and began to teach the game of golf in 2001. He had found his passion in golf instruction. As his career continued to rise, he went from assistant golf professional to head golf professional at Harmon Golf Club in Lebanon, Ohio. It was there in 2015 he founded SmartGolf Academy. McMullin’s golf instruction and passion now had started to grow into a business. In 2018 he decided to leave the “golf course business” and go into professional golf instruction full time with his academy.

Since then, McMullin and his SmartGolf Academy have continued to grow. He joined the ranks of the USGTF in 2020, becoming a Master Golf Teaching Professional with the organization in 2021. He became the Central Region director that same year and is now a WGTF Top 50 Instructor. McMullin has taught junior golf beginners and taken them to the levels of Ohio district and state qualifiers, as well as instructing would-be college golfers.

He has taught a number of adult players who now play competitively on local and regional amateur tours, using FlightScope launch monitor technology along with video training. All the while, as McMullin says, “I am continuing to learn about the game, the swing, and how to speak people’s learning language to accelerate their performance.”

These days, you can find McMullin teaching at his golf academy at the Southwest Golf Ranch in Lebanon. He also has a full-service website and online academy, as well as a newly established YouTube channel, SmartGolf Academy’s “Golf Unplugged.” You can find out more about McMullin and the SmartGolf Academy at SmartGolfAcademy.org.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT – TALEAH WASHINGTON

By Chrisopher Warner

As teaching professionals, we find ourselves associating and working with students from all walks of life, possessing numerous skill levels, and the opportunity to bring great joy to others through the wonderful sport of a lifetime.

In 2017, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with a gifted and aspiring student named Taleah Washington. The connection was quite unusual, however, in that I live in Houston, Texas, and Taleah’s parents live in South Grand Prairie, Texas, about 250 miles apart. As it was, Taleah was a freshman in high school, involved in five different sports simultaneously. At a point in time, the coaches met with her and advised her that she couldn’t possibly show up to practice every day with each activity, so she would need to choose one sport and give the rest of them up. With no hesitation however, she advised them that she wanted to be on the golf team. Here was a young black girl desiring to play on the golf team despite the fact she had never even attempted to try the sport. This did surprise the coaches, but as a headstrong and determined young lady, she had her mind made up. It was soon discovered that her parents were friends with Brittany Lang and Michelle Wie West of the LPGA Tour. Ironically, at the end of a tournament in the past, I had given Michelle a golf teaching business card with my personal information on it, asking if she would send a signed photo to hang on my wall.

I never received the picture, but Michele still had my card, which she shared with Taleah’s parents, and they were advised to give me a call. Her advice was taken and after about a 45-minute phone conversation, an agreement was made for me to work with Taleah. From the beginning, there were two recognizable aspects that excelled her very rapidly. One was her absolute focus on what she was learning, and the other was her great attitude. She was patient and willing to absorb any information I provided to her. Her determination to succeed was unquestionable, and she gave it all that she had with a true spirit of learning. Every afternoon after school, she would go to the range and hit balls as well as play until it was too dark to see.

Beyond the typical teaching of striking the ball and obtaining consistency, I taught her how to work the ball and endure adversity in awkward and unusual situations. This built her confidence and ability to properly navigate any course, no matter the conditions. As a result of her diverse capabilities and navigational skills, she was very successful in winning numerous tournaments and setting records. In May 2018, she was invited to participate in the Colonial Junior Invitational. To add to that, she worked at the Ben Hogan Learning Center with The First Tee program and was selected to participate in a PGA Tour Champions event representing the state of Texas alongside Rod Pampling at Pebble Beach in 2021.

Taleah has since gone on to enjoy a full golf scholarship at Prairie View A&M University, where she is majoring in business administration and marketing. All of this is a result of her sheer determination, sacrifice, and ability to decide what she wants in life and not allowing anything to discourage her. I couldn’t be prouder.  

INDUSTRY PARTNER SPOTLIGHT – VOLVIK

Volvik, maker of the famous selection of colored golf balls and holder of numerous patents, has partnered with the USGTF to offer members in good standing a personal use discount. Members will be eligible for 20% off the wholesale price of its entire line of golf balls. For more information and to take advantage of this discount, please contact the USGTF National Office at member_services@usgtf.com or call (772) 88-USGTF (772) 888-7483).

EDITORIAL – INTRODUCTION AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE NEW VIRTUAL GOLF LEAGUE BY TIGER WOODS & RORY MCLLROY


In August 2022, the formation of the TGL was announced in partnership with the PGA Tour. Tiger Woods’ and Rory McIlroy’s joint company would run the new virtual, indoor golf league, using a giant simulator and a real-grass putting green and chipping area. Six teams of PGA Tour players would compete in prime time at a specially built facility in South Florida with a capacity to seat 2,000 fans.

All that came crashing down – literally – this past fall when a power failure caused the inflatable roof and ceiling to collapse. As a result, the start of the new golf league has been pushed back to 2025.

TGL (what the initials stand for is unknown, but a good guess is Tiger Golf League) is attempting to take advantage of the ever-present technology encroaching on every aspect of modern life. It is also an attempt to appeal to the Topgolf crowd that may never set foot on an actual golf course but enjoys hitting balls with their friends in an exciting atmosphere. TGL certainly promises that.

The end result is anything new and exciting concerning golf is a good thing. And anything in golf with Woods’ involvement draws eyeballs. Whether the new league will survive long-term remains to be seen, but at present it seems like a refreshing new take on the old game.