The USGTF was founded in 1989 by Geoff Bryant, who to this day remains CEO and president of the organization. Geoff knew that a lack of qualified and personable golf teachers abounded and he set out to do something about it. He recruited the best teachers in his golf school operation and created a curriculum that would ensure a good education to those who came to get certified. With tweaks over the years to keep up with modern teaching trends, the USGTF offers a comprehensive golf teachers training course that allows new members to impart their knowledge.
There are currently three categories of USGTF membership being offered: Associate Member, Certified Golf Teaching Professional® and Master Golf Teaching Professional®. Exactly what do each of these certifications mean? An Associate Member has completed the academic curriculum and has the ability to give a competent lesson to an average player. A Certified Golf Teaching Professional – our fully-certified level – has also passed the Playing Ability Test and has the ability to give a competent lesson to an above-average player. And a Master Golf Teaching Professional has the ability to give a competent lesson to all levels of players.
This doesn’t mean that once someone attains Master status that they no longer need to keep learning or improving their abilities. On the contrary, this is where the journey is just getting started! As John Dana said, “Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn.” Which means that as long as we’re involved with teaching the game, our quest for greater and more knowledge must be ongoing.
An example of this would be the swing methodology of the late Moe Norman. Moe used what is described as a “single-axis” swing, where the line formed by his left forearm and club shaft, for all practical purposes, never changed. Teaching Moe’s swing is not part of the official USGTF curriculum, but it would serve members well to learn something about it. Likewise, a method called “stack and tilt,” developed by Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, is worthy of study by USGTF members. Curiously enough, a similar method called “single pivot” was developed by USGTF member and former examiner Randy Cason, in which the player pivoted around his lead leg and hip on both the backswing and forward swing. While there are some differences between stack and tilt and single pivot, both can be used to good effect by players whose swing tendencies may not be suited for the more conventional model that we teach.
In the last issue of Golf Teaching Pro , Dr. David Wright wrote about his swing discoveries in his methodology called Wright Balance. In over- simplified terms, Wright Balance recognizes that there are three core regions, one of which a player will be the most dominant in. Lower-core players feature a strong grip and more rotated hips through impact. Upper-core players feature a weaker grip, less-rotated hips and they come out of their posture. Middle-core players are a hybrid of both, and the majority of tour players are middle-core players. Studying Dr. Wright’s principles will give any teacher a greater understanding of why certain players do certain things.
The quest for more knowledge can also be successful by taking advantage of the USGTF’s extra-curricular educational materials, available through the USGTF Pro Shop. In 2018, the USGTF also held online educational webinars, answering a demand for continuing education programs. Look for more in 2019. The advantage of webinars is that they can be done in the comfort of your own home without having to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to access the information.
There are also resources online that are available to teaching professionals. The Facebook group Golf Teaching Professionals, while not affiliated with the USGTF, is open to all who teach the game. But be forewarned that there are some teachers in the group who are heavily into the science of the game and will talk in terms that are beyond the realm of most teaching professionals, even the highly accomplished ones. Gaining more knowledge about teaching doesn’t necessarily mean you have to know what terms such as “275% peak vertical” or where “P6” is in the swing, but there is some good information otherwise in the group.
As golf marches on into the 21st century, the game and its teaching continue to evolve. Staying ahead of the curve is imperative if we are to be successful going forward.