Posts Tagged ‘Golf lessons’

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!


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:


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)


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.


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.)


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 to find out more information about the Titleist Performance Institute and its network of professionals.


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:    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!


Laura Patrick

LPGA Class A Member

TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor

HeartMath® 1:1 Provider

Baker National Golf Course


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.

Do You Have a Guide for YOUR Journey?

What can a better game do for YOU? Take a moment to really answer that question. Golf isn’t just about how many putts you make or how many fairways you hit. Golf is about a journey. Most would think the journey I am referring to is one of successfully navigating the course to get the ball into the hole, but there is another, much bigger journey outside of your statistics and score. Imagine yourself playing great golf. Where do you see your journey taking you? What does that journey look like and where does it end? Can you see, feel, and hear where your journey takes you?

Every person’s journey has a different destination, so why should the path you take be the same as someone else’s? And, every great journey has a guide – someone to prepare you for your trip, someone to make sure you have the correct tools for your journey, and someone to help you along the way. From the first step of your journey to your destination, your guide will serve various roles along the way. Your guide will help you draw a map to your destination, will help you find your way when you believe you are hopelessly lost, will point out a beautiful sunset when you are too busy looking forward, will carry your pack when the load is too heavy, will guide you safely to your destination, and will celebrate with you when you reach your destination. If you have a destination in mind, don’t embark on your journey alone or follow someone else’s path. Find a guide that will be your expert, your biggest fan, and will get you safely to YOUR destination.

Let me be the guide to help you reach YOUR destination. I believe in you. I believe in the power of the human spirit. I believe small changes can catapult you to life altering changes. I believe you can accomplish any goal you truly hold in your heart. I believe your journey to reach your dreams and goals shouldn’t be a lonely one, but one filled with camaraderie and celebration. I believe ups and downs are part of the learning process and that the journey through the valley makes the view from the peak that much more majestic. I believe each person must forge a path that suits them, their personality, and their goals. And most of all, I believe in working hard to be the best guide I can be to help you enjoy your journey and get you to your destination.

What can a better game do for YOU?





Do you need a lesson or a coach – and what is the difference?

Do you need a lesson or a coach – and what is the difference?

Definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Lesson – a piece of instruction, a reading or exercise to be studied by a pupil, a division of a course of instruction, something learned by study or experience.

Coach – one who instructs or trains, one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy

Aside from the actual definitions of the two words, let’s look a little deeper.  Professional athletes have coaches, most youth programs have coaches, most sports in general have coaches, yet the average golfer doesn’t have a coach.  At best they take an occasional golf lesson…or worse, attempt to diagnose and fix their own swing.

Most golfers are fixers instead of improvers.  Somewhere in the golf industry we’ve failed golfers because we’ve led them to believe they are just one golf tip away from “fixing their swing” and reaching their goals.  Unfortunately, this assumption could not be further from the truth.  Yes a golf tip or two can be helpful, but golf tips never really stick and represent only a very small piece of your game.  A coach has the ability to tell you why you are not shooting the scores you want to be shooting, identify the areas that need improvement, make changes to the areas that will have the biggest impact on your game, and then continue to build upon those skills to help you reach your goal.  A good coach will truly help your game improve.


Here are three thoughts on lessons, self diagnosis, and game maintenance:

1. If you are feeling sick, would you march into the doctor’s office and demand a certain remedy based on what you have decided is wrong with you, or would you ask the doctor why you are feeling this way and then proceed through different tests to truly find out why you are sick?  What if you had a pain in your arm and decided you pulled a muscle but it turned out to be symptoms of a heart attack?  Lessons correct symptoms while coaching helps to diagnose the underlying problems and create a plan for improvement.
2. Would you ever walk into a pharmacy and take the first drug you see?  If you took the wrong drug, it might not help at all…or could even kill you?  Self diagnosis combined with self correction can be deadly.  There are many ways to swing a golf club and each way has compatible and incompatible pieces.  Choose the wrong fix and it could make everything worse…and you could even injure yourself.
3. Would you take your car to the mechanic to get a strange noise fixed and then not change your oil for 50,000 miles?  Even when you make changes, it’s good to keep up with maintenance on your game.  You never know what problems might creep in if you don’t perform regular maintenance, and Murphy’s Law states that it will most likely blow up at the worst possible moment.
Laura Teaching Silhouette Wide


Coaching often looks beyond the golf swing because there are many factors that can affect performance.  A half hour lesson can only address so much.  It is the coaching relationship that allows for true diagnosis of underlying causes of poor performance. How can you be sure that the reason you don’t play well on the back nine is because you didn’t swing your driver well?  With long-term students I often find that the area where they are struggling is not just caused by their inability to swing the driver well on the back nine, but a combination of many things that causes them not to drive the ball well on the back nine.  Maybe they don’t drink enough water, they don’t fuel their body correctly, their legs get tired, they are using an improperly fitted driver, they start focusing on their score instead of the shot at hand, they make an incorrect club/strategy choice, they don’t account for an increase in wind speed, their mind starts to wander to what they need to do after the round, or they tell themselves they never drive well on the back nine creating fear and anxiety over the ball.  If they only work on their swing with the driver they may never identify the underlying cause of why they actually don’t hit their driver well on the back nine.

It is the student-coach relationship that allows for correct identification of the challenges that causes a student to not perform as expected and for improvements to be made over time.  Yes, maybe there is a change that needs to be made to their swing, but often times there are unidentified issues that have a huge impact on their ability to succeed.  Coaching golf is complicated – for the coach, not the student.  It takes years of education from a playing and teaching standpoint to be a great coach.  A golf coach has to not only learn what it truly takes to improve at golf, but they also have to develop a relationship with their student over time that will allow them to learn about their student’s game and then tailor a plan that will help that individual student improve.  Once you find a great coach, you will have a consultant and a friend (who truly understands you and your game) to guide you along your journey to an improved game.  You will work side-by-side with your coach to help create your unique road map to success – factoring in your personal preferences and styles for learning.

I ask that you approach your game improvement as an investment – one that can truly help you reach your goals.  Before spending $300 on a new driver or $800 on a new set of irons, ask yourself if your money would be better spent by learning which areas of your game you need to improve and creating a plan to improve them.  Remember – golf clubs are the only thing you will ever spend hundreds of dollars on that don’t come with an instruction manual on how to use them.  Give yourself the gift of better golf today and invest in a good coach.

What can a better game do for you?

Call Laura Patrick, LPGA Professional at 763-267-7531

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