A Winter in the Life of LPGA Professional, Laura Patrick

Laura shares her winter experiences, philosophies on what being a golf instructor means, and great insights she’s gained from attending leading industry events!

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I often get asked what I do during the winter months, especially since I don’t travel south to another facility.  I figure since my husband is already a golf widow half the year, it wouldn’t be proper to run off to the tropics for the other six months.  It’s easy to think of a Minnesota golf pro sitting by the fire – enjoying life, watching the days pass by, and waiting for warmer weather.  Truthfully, winter is often the season of strange and crazy part time jobs for golf pros.  Ask around, you’ll hear a lot of stories.  Early in my career I could be found hawking product at a mall kiosk (yes I was one of those people) or working a temp job dutifully making sure survey responses added up to ten.  I’ve even served as a property manager and helped a construction office complete multimillion dollar projects as an administrative assistant temp.  After getting laid off in my coaching position at Augsburg College a few years ago, I vowed to devote my winters to becoming a great golf instructor and offering high impact off-season game development programs.

My official title at Baker National is “golf instructor” but to be honest I hate the title.  It implies that I sit around and tell people how to hit a little ball with a stick.  In my eyes, it’s so much more than that.  I help people become the people they envision themselves being.  People have a vision for their game, and it’s not just a score they would like to shoot or a shot they would like to hit.  It’s a vision based on what a better game can do for them…or even more importantly where it can take them.  Every story is unique, but I often hear people saying they are taking lessons so they can play golf with their family, feel more comfortable playing golf with a new client, enjoy their weekly outing with their friends, get more exercise, or compete at the highest levels.  So, as a “golf instructor” my job is to help people improve their lives and reach their goals.  Because I approach each student with that philosophy, my goal becomes to help that person be the best they can be on and off the course.  Unfortunately the title of “Coach-teacher-mentor-friend-collaborator-strategist -biomechanist-speaker-writer -motivator-(amateur) psychologist/meteorologist” just won’t fit on my business card, so I have to stick with “Golf Instructor”.

Now that you understand how seriously I take the responsibilities given to me by my students, you can understand why I strive to be the best golf instructor I can be.  I approach teaching golf with the same intensity as I approached playing.  I have to work hard to be the best, and I make it a goal to learn from the top thought leaders in various aspects of the game.  Each year I generally reinvest in my students through education.  The way I see it, if I’m challenging my students to improve, I must improve equally (if not more) in my ability to help them reach or exceed their goals.  Truthfully, I may have exceeded my personal education budget a little this winter, but I believe the payoffs will be huge for my students (so be sure to sign up for a lesson).    Here are some of the highlights from this winter:

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World Golf Fitness Summit

WGFS Badge Laura Patrick

In October I attended the World Golf Fitness Summit in Orlando, Florida.  Although the event sounds like a bunch of trainers running around telling people to do squats, it was so much more than that.  650 people attended the event from 20 countries a

nd there were 40 speakers from 7 countries.  Speakers included PGA Master Professionals, Tour Fitness Professionals, Nutritionists, Neuro-learning experts, and motivational speakers.  The event was the comprised of leading (and often times THE leading) expert in a giv

en industry sharing the knowledge of what helps golfers of varying levels improve (from beginners to tour players).  I left the event excited to know that my teaching mirrored some of the great minds of today while learning a ton of new information that I have integrated into my teaching and knowledge base.  Here are a few highlights from the conference:

– “Great players use the ground for stability. Work on the lower body to get better movement.” -Claude Harmon III  (PGA Professional)

– “How do we go from knowing to no knowing?  Take risks, know past experiences, and create a learning environment where people feel smart and safe.”  – Michael Hebron (PGA Master Professional and Neuro-learning Expert)

-“It is a waste of time to try to change a habit – you change the reasoning for why you do something” – Michael Hebron (PGA Master Professional and Neuro-learning Expert)

-“After a tough round, players always want to try something new, but stick to the plan and keep doing the same things. Reaffirm the motion.”  – Sean Foley (PGA Professional / Tiger Wood’s Coach)

-“The best food on the golf course is nuts and/or beef jerky.  Also you should drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day.  Children should away from sports drinks because they contain artificial dyes which can mimic ADHD in children.”  -Robert Yang  (Nutritionist)

-“Live a life in motion.  Project your life ahead.  What is your life/career going to mean?  Don’t be afraid to write down your dream.  If your goals aren’t terrifying they aren’t big enough”  – Thomas Plummer (Founder, National Fitness Business Alliance)

– “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”  – Ben Shear (Tour Fitness Trainer)

– “Skill acquisition is a process not a single event.  Understand cause and effect, utilize supervised practice, train to transfer, and play to learn.”  – Dr. Rick Jensen (Sports Psychologist)

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HeartMath™ 1:1 Provider Licensing

In early 2013 I spent three months obtaining HearthMath®  Licensing to be a 1:1 Provider. HeartMath offers a system of tools and technology that incorporates the power of managing your heart rate variability in order to change your response to stressful situations and to improve performance.  Many professional athletes and professional golfers use the HeartMath techniques to achieve high levels of performance, although you don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from the system.  Through my education, I can help golfers deal with challenging situations such as performance anxiety, negative thoughts, and incidences commonly known as “choking”.  Combining the HeartMath techniques with my coaching and playing experience has already proved to be a powerful tool for helping the high school golfers I’ve worked with this spring.  There are only a handful of Golf Professionals in the world who are licensed 1:1 Providers so I am excited to use these powerful techniques with my students. The HeartMath system will help students better understand strategy, decision making and harnessing the power of positive emotions, so they perform better on and off the course.  Lessons can be scheduled to specifically address the mental and emotional aspects of the game or can be incorporated into lessons over time.

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U.S. Kids Certified Instructor Training

In April, I attended a US Kids Certified Instructor’s Training.  I learned a lot of great information regarding club fitting for juniors, scaling courses to make golf more fun for junior golfers, how to create a high quality learning experience for junior golfers, and games and drills that facilitate learning.  Chad Fortney from Eagle Lake and Kevin Kinsey from Glen Lake also attended the seminar.  We were excited to see that we already incorporate many of their recommendations into our First Tee programs at Three Rivers Park District, but we each took some great information away from the training that will help us continue to improve.  Baker National has a US Kids fitting cart and I learned a great deal of knowledge on how to fit junior golfers into the correct clubs.  I would love to help if you have any questions or if you would like to order clubs for your child.  Here are some key learning points from the seminar regarding fitting your kids for clubs:

-There are no standards for junior clubs from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Buying a boxed set of clubs based on age can give you the wrong set of clubs.  The difference between the 5th and 95th percentile for height at any given age is generally 7-9”.

-The driver should be 2/3rds the height of your child.  If it’s any longer it’s going to be challenging for them to hit the ball and create speed.

-Kids should grow out of their clubs and not into them.  Clubs that are too heavy or too long can cause them to develop incorrect swing habits and inhibit their ability to learn to create speed in a golf swing.  (Too short can be just as bad, but resist the urge to buy the “next size up”)

-On longer courses, have your children tee off at the 100 or 150 yard marker based on how far they hit the ball.  That way they can experience golf on their level vs. having to pick up or feel rushed.  If kids feel successful they will have more fun!  (When I was young I got to tee off from where my Dad’s drive landed…but always from the fairway, even if he was in the trees.)

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Titleist Performance Institute Seminar

WGFS Laura Patrick On Stage

And finally, I attended the Level 1 Titleist Performance Institute Seminar which was held in Minneapolis.  I am currently a Level 2 Certified Golf Fitness Instructor, but sitting through the level 1 class a second time allowed me to gain an even greater understanding of the nuances of how the body can affect the golf swing.  Being a “Golf Fitness Instructor” doesn’t mean I am a personal trainer or a medical professional, but instead means that I have a basic knowledge of how the body affects the golf swing.  Through a series of physical screenings, I can determine what swing challenges you might have based on your body’s movement patterns and also help you to minimize the chance of injury caused by your golf swing.  I am trained to look for mobility and stability in various joints to see how your body can most efficiently swing the club.

The basic premise is that you have to change your golf swing to fit your body OR you may have to change your body to fit the golf swing you want.  Trying to make a motion your body is not capable of making can cause injury and/or challenges in your ball contact and direction.  For minor range of motion limitations that do not involve pain, I can recommend basic stretching exercises to help you improve.  If you have a physical challenge or limitation, I can direct you to a medical or fitness professional (depending on severity) to help you make a change in your body.  If you would like to get a physical screening done to see how your body is affecting your golf swing, you can call Baker National to set up a screening.  You can also visit www.mytpi.com to find out more information about the Titleist Performance Institute and its network of professionals.

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In summary, even though I do have some down time to offset the frantic pace of summer, I actually stay pretty busy each winter learning as much as I can to improve my teaching skills and passing those skills onto students who participate in my off-season game development programs.  After an especially long winter, I am excited to be back at Baker National Golf Course for my 11th season.  In addition to my Three Rivers Park District Golf Academy Page, you can find more information about my teaching philosophies at my brand new website:  www.LauraPatrickGolf.com    On my website you can download a  free game assessment that will highlight high-impact areas for improving your game.  Finally, be sure to schedule a lesson today by calling Baker National at 763-694-7670 and find out what a better game can do for YOU!

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Laura Patrick

LPGA Class A Member

TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor

HeartMath® 1:1 Provider

Baker National Golf Course

763-694-7670

P.S. I’d love it if you liked us on Facebook: Laura Patrick, LPGA Professional

HeartMath is a registered trademark of the Institute of HeartMath.

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