Learning from peers is always one of the best ways to become a better youth instructor, says Assistant Golf Professional Abby Parsons. Asking advice from coworkers and golf professionals around the country is always beneficial.
By Abby Parsons, Assistant Golf Professional at Coral Creek Club and 2nd Assistant Golf Professional at Whistling Straits
Club + Resort Business: How long have you been in the industry?
Abby Parsons: I grew up in Pinehurst, N.C., so it feels like I’ve been in the industry since birth. All jokes aside, my dad is a golf professional and was the Director of Golf at National Golf Club (now Pinehurst #9) practically my entire life. Once I graduated college in 2020, I jumped right into the golf industry.
C+RB: How long at Whistling Straits and Coral Creek Club?
Parsons: I started as an intern at Whistling Straits when I graduated college May of 2020, then as an Assistant Golf Professional at Coral Creek Club in November of 2020. I returned to Whistling as an Assistant Golf Professional, went back to CCC for another season, and now I’m heading up north as 2nd Assistant Golf Professional at Whistling. After two seasons at CCC and going to my third at Whistling, I’m very lucky with my locations. Short answer: I’m going into my third season at Whistling and I just finished my second season at CCC.
C+RB: How is teaching kids different from teaching adults?
Parsons: With teaching kids, it’s about creating a fun environment that they want to return to. With teaching adults, it’s about providing the tools needed to accomplish their own personal goals with the game. Some adults just want to be able to get the ball in the air, some want to break par. Teaching kids is full of developing enjoyable experiences to put golf in a positive light as they get older and want to improve for themselves.
C+RB: What are the similarities?
Parsons: Major similarity is making golf enjoyable for both parties. For kids, you want to make golf enjoyable so they feel comfortable and confident taking on the technical aspects of the game. For adults, you want to make the game enjoyable for them so they can achieve their personal goals and benchmarks.
C+RB: How do you structure one-on-one lessons?
Parsons: I start with an interview. I ask them for their golf background, their athletic background, their physical health background, and then finish the interview with what their goals are with taking lessons. From there, I have them hit a few irons without me saying much more than “good shot.” I ask them what clubs give them the most trouble and what their most consistent “miss” is. From here I usually explain my thoughts and I provide a drill to begin the lesson for them to feel what I am trying to employ in their golf swing.
C+RB: Are there advantages to group lessons?
Parsons: Group lessons encourage a team-like atmosphere. I see golfers cheer on the people in their group when they hit a good shot, and they also learn from each other. Group lessons are also very interactive for everyone, and it creates a comfortable learning zone for new golfers.
C+RB: What are some of the best tools/programs for youth instructors to utilize?
Parsons: There are so many tools and programs nowadays that youth instructors can utilize. Operation 36 is a great way to learn golf for youth and adults. Learning from peers is always one of the best ways to become a better youth instructor. Asking advice from coworkers and golf professionals around the country is always beneficial.
C+RB: How does the club promote youth programs?
Parsons: Whistling Straits has a PGA Jr. league team, as well as weekly golf camps for all ages. We have kids travel hours just to be a part of our programs and we always employ games in every session.
C+RB: What advice would you give a colleague who is about to begin teaching kids?
Parsons: Put fun first, technique second. As they get older, it will be easier to gauge if they are ready to learn and demonstrate new technique. It’s good to make technique catchy and easy to remember for the young ages … then make it more specific and technical as they get older and more eager to improve.