Student-Instructors Offer Free Golf Lessons

Glynn Rodgers According to a Buddhist proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Well, if you’re ready to elevate your golf game and you live anywhere near Temecula, you will find your teacher conveniently appearing every Thursday at The Legends Golf Club.

The Legends Golf Club is the sister site of the Professional Golfers Career College, the nation’s leading two-year accredited golf college. In fact, in order to earn a specialized Associate’s degree in Professional Golf Management, students must complete four courses dedicated solely to the instruction of golf. Every Thursday seniors gather at the Legends Golf Club to put their skills and study into practice, shaping and refining golf swings for their Techniques of Golf Teaching IV class. They, not to mention their students, could not be happier.

Take Glynn Rodgers, for example. A December 2012 golf college graduate, Rodgers taught a diverse group of 4 or 5 students, all of whom had different needs and areas of focus. Rodgers reveals, “My approach to training a new student is to find out where they are and where they want to be. Then I concentrate on the fundamentals. Most importantly, I try to make it fun!”

Glynn RodgersRodgers, a recent retiree from the U.S. Navy, got into golf with the help of his dad when he was only four years old. Not long after that he began playing in junior tournaments and eventually his high school golf team. Rodgers shares, “I came to PGCC after retiring from the U.S. Navy...22 years of service. I've been a club-level golfer most of my life. I even worked as an Assistant Golf Professional for a year after graduating from high school... that was a long time ago!!!” Through all the years that have passed since then Glynn maintained a love for the game, and for teaching. Rodgers continues, “I really get a thrill out of seeing someone make a connection with what I'm trying to get them to do. I love the challenge, and I take seriously the trust a person places in me to help them improve.”

The golf swing is a notoriously challenging skill to master, and no two people go about it exactly the same way. Versatility and clear communication are key ingredients to successful progress. To Rodgers, a great instructor is somebody who can see their student’s vision, and be very forthcoming about what kind of work the student will need to put in. According to Rodgers, “A great instructor will really take time to ask questions, find out what the student wants to accomplish, and be honest about what it will take in terms of commitment to practice and instruction.” So what is Rodgers’ number one instruction no-no? “Don't just sell lessons; develop a program that will help your student reach their goals.” This is a lesson he learned from his Techniques of Golf Teaching course at the golf college. Techniques instructor Nick Bland shared some sage advice that really stuck with Rodgers, “Tailor your lessons to the student; there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ in golf.”

Golf BallAccording to Rodgers, Bland, who is also the Head Golf Professional at The Legends Golf Club, is big on the basics. “Basically, Nick stresses developing rapport with students, managing their expectations, and not using too much technical jargon... just keep it simple.” While keeping it simple can be a tall order in this game, there are definitely students who defy their instructor’s beliefs about how to hit a golf ball. “I currently have a ten year old student who can hit the ball like Happy Gilmore, with great hand-eye coordination. It cracks me and others up to watch!”

If you're interested in taking free golf lessons every Thursday, contact The Legends Golf Club at 951-694-9998 to reserve your spot today!

Faculty Spotlight on Clyde Johnston

PGCC Logo Clyde Johnston’s pedigree in golf is extensive; after all, not everybody can say that their father helped launch the career of one of the greatest golfers the game has ever seen. Before his father, C.B. “Johnny” Johnston, became a PGA professional, he was the first golf coach at Wake Forest College (WFC). Johnny left in the middle of his college career at WFC to serve his country in the Air Force during WWII. After he returned, he assumed the role of golf coach during his senior year, and when he graduated in 1947, he stayed on as coach and Assistant Athletic Director.

Perhaps the only person in history to successfully convince a football coach to give up one of his scholarships, Johnny began recruiting good golfers to WFC. His search led him to Buddy Worsham, whom he selected to receive the scholarship. Worsham accepted on the condition that WFC give his best friend a scholarship, too. If Worsham’s best friend was anybody else, this would be a rather pointless story, but, as luck would have it, Worsham’s best friend was Arnold Palmer.

Johnston recalls a spectacular childhood memory, “One evening when I was about 10 or 11 years old, my Dad told me I needed to be home the next day at a certain time. He was having a guest over and he wanted me to meet him. I arrived at the appointed time to find out the guest was Arnold Palmer, who by that time had already won 2 Masters Tournaments. I think that was the moment I began to love golf.”

PGCC Logo Would it be fair to say that without that fateful one-for-one scholarship, the world may have never known Arnold Palmer? We’ll never know. But what we do know is this: Johnny was a PGA pro in the Carolinas Section for about 30 years, and he had a hand in shaping the last century of golf by helping two golf greats get their start: Arnold Palmer, and Johnny’s son, golf course designer Clyde Johnston.

As the Golf Course Design instructor at PGCC Hilton Head, Johnston, a Houston native, has carried on a tradition of golf in his family that started long, long ago. “I basically grew up in golf. My father was a PGA golf professional, so I started playing golf when I was very young.” While Johnston played competitively in junior golf, high school, and even his first year of college, playing golf professionally did not call to him, not the way design did. Johnston shares, “My father dabbled in golf course design. He designed about six courses in his ‘amateur’ design career, and it was through those efforts that I became interested in golf course design.”

The way many sons decide early on that they want to be “just like Dad,” Clyde observed his father at the drafting table and was fascinated. “He had a drafting table in the basement and I would go down and watch what he was doing. He taught me all about topography, reading maps, drawing, and golf course design strategy.” Johnston continues, “One night when I was about 13 years old, he was working on a layout and he looked up at me and said ‘You know, you can make a living designing golf courses.’ My jaw dropped – it had never occurred to me but I was immediately smitten with the idea and decided on the spot that was what I wanted to do in life.” And that was it; Johnny called around to some architects he knew and inquired about what a young person would need to do and study to get into golf course design. The results were basically unanimous: work on golf course maintenance crews, get some construction experience, and get a degree in Landscape Architecture.

PGCC Logo Johnston began working in the golf design industry in 1973 as a summer intern for golf course architect Willard Byrd out of Atlanta, Georgia, and then returned as a full time employee the following year. Along the way, he spent time working with the likes of Gary Player and Ron Kirby, but eventually returned to Mr. Byrd’s office after a few years. “This is my 40th year in the golf course design business. I formed my own company in March of 1987 to provide golf course design services in the Southeastern United States. In total I’ve worked on over 120 golf course designs (new designs and renovations) with my own firm and working for other golf course architects.” He earned his Bachelor Degree in Environmental Design and Landscape Architecture and, in his words, “The rest of what I know about golf course design, I attribute to my father’s teaching, apprenticing for Willard Byrd for 13 years, and my own research and studies on golf course design.”

Still after so many years, he’s not tired of any of it. Johnston, who was President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) from 2003-2004, is celebrating his 40th year in the design industry, and 4th year as a Golf Course Design instructor at PGCC. After joining PGCC in the spring of 2009, he’s had his share of gratifying moments. One stands out in particular: “My proudest moment as an instructor was when a student told me that after taking my class, he looks at golf holes when he’s playing golf in an entirely different manner in that he understands more about golf course design.”

PGCC Logo After 40 years, he’s picked up a thing or two about the design business and, while he’s very proud of the work he’s done, Johnston is quick to share the accolades. “It takes more than one person to make a golf course successful,” he says. “You have to have good land, a great client, a good builder, a good budget and finally a good golf course superintendent with a good operations budget.” Johnston continues, “I’m proud of all of my projects and designs so it’s hard to pick one that I’m most proud of. It’s almost like they are my children and it would not be fair to favor one over another. Although I have designed a few difficult golf courses, I prefer to design courses that are fun to play and are visually attractive. It’s quite a challenge to design and build a new golf course, so it’s very rewarding to see the finished product turn out well. And of course, it takes a team of capable people to get it all done.”

Clearly he’s got a lot of work to be proud of, but what about his golf game? A scratch-player, Johnston still has his eye on the future. “I’ve won some local competitions in my life but my proudest moment will be in the future when I make my first hole-in-one.”


Photos courtesy of Warren Grant

Volunteering Teaches Life Lessons

PGCC Logo We live and breathe golf, working everyday to provide students with more than a comprehensive and engaging education; we also work to provide them with opportunities. A thorough golf education stretches beyond the classroom; it even stretches beyond the golf course. A real golf education has to stretch all the way to the core of a student, and fundamentally enhance their knowledge and love of golf, and shape it into something deeper, something that encourages them want to learn and do more. Part of doing “more” is volunteering. Going above-and-beyond to do whatever the task asks of you.

As all volunteers know, when you sign up to help out, it’s all-hands-on-deck and you never really know where you’re going to end up. Such was the case for Kody Idland, a Spring 2013 graduate from PGCC Temecula, who volunteered at the Kraft Nabisco Pro-Am and got an interesting assignment…caddying for none other than one of the original shock-rocker, Alice Cooper.

Kody was a couple of weeks from graduation when he opted to take one last chance to volunteer, in the midst of pre-graduation frenzy. “I knew that the Kraft Nabisco tournament was approaching and I missed out last year volunteering through PGCC and wanted to be sure to be involved this year.” Idland shared. Kody’s volunteer history with the golf college includes time at the tour stop for the Soboba Springs Classic, LPGA events like the Kia Classic, and PGA events, like the Humana Challenge. This lineup positioned him as a valuable asset when it came time to apply to the LPGA’s first Major. “I looked on their website and applied to volunteer. I provided my volunteer history while at PGCC, and they assigned me to work with the golf channel. I also applied to caddy through PGCC.”

PGCC LogoSome say you should never work for free, but when you’re starting out, what you get out of volunteering can significantly outweigh anything else you may have taken home. “Volunteering opened many doors for me and enabled me to make the right contacts and show my work ethic.” Idland continues, “At every tournament I’ve learned something new, whether it was working with scoring, set-up, registration, media, or being a caddy. I tried to get as much out of the experience as one could.”

Our Tournament Operations courses prepare students to handle every task a tournament can throw at them, the rest is up to them. Idland concluded, “PGCC was the fastest 16 months of my life, and I wish I would have volunteered more often.” Not to worry, though. Volunteering has, in some significant way, shaped where Idland will take his career. “I enjoyed meeting new people and doing new jobs, seeing the courses and facilities along with meeting some of the best golfers in the world. I plan to work in tournament operations and become a positive leader and mentor.”

PGCC LogoKevin Bourland, a senior at PGCC Temecula, also has post graduation plans on his mind, and as Kody mentioned, the 16 months spent here can fly by before you know it, which is why you have to act fast when opportunities arise. Bourland shares, “I came to be a volunteer at the Kraft Nabisco Pro-Am by an opportunity through PGCC, Gabe Codding the Operations Director of the Kraft Nabisco tournament came to the college to give a lecture on his success story in the golf industry.” Gabe Codding makes an annual pilgrimage to the golf college to share how he became Tournament Director of the Kraft Nabisco Championship…by volunteering. It’s a fascinating story, but that’s another article.

Bourland continues, “It was through coordination with Jack Gyves that I was given the opportunity. I have volunteered at two PGA Tour events and one LPGA Tour event.” Bourland’s responsibilities were straightforward in terms of the task at hand, but that’s not all he was doing. “I was able to apply a lot of different things that I have learned at PGCC while volunteering. One of the biggest things that I learned while attending PGCC is planting good seeds, which I learned in Doc's class freshman semester from a book titled ‘Seeds of Greatness’. By giving great first impressions it has allowed me other experiences and opportunities with the people I have networked with.”

PGCC LogoThat’s notable when you consider that often times people associate volunteering as signing-on to do everything nobody else wants to do. But that is obviously the wrong way to look at it. Students from any campus will tell you, one basic tenet at the golf college is this: Attitude is everything, and Kevin has the right idea. Bourland also shared, “Something that I learned while I was volunteering was how being more respectful towards the patrons at the Tour Events leads to great fan support. It’s all about the patrons. One volunteer told me that they go above and beyond to make sure that everyone is having a great time.”

Kevin’s enthusiasm is apparent, and you can tell that he loves the time he’s spent volunteering. “What I enjoyed the most was when I volunteered at the Final Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School, which was held at PGA West in La Quinta, California. I had the privilege of getting to announce players on the first tee and that was a great experience. Being able to shake hands and meet some of those guys was very humbling.”

So now that he’s a senior, what does he want to after graduation? “I plan to continue working towards becoming a PGA Class A member and my plans within the golf industry are to first become an Assistant Golf Professional and then from there get into more of Tournament Directing. Eventually, I would like to work in upper tier management for either Troon Golf or Club Corp. All of my volunteer jobs that I have done helped me gain more knowledge about all the planning it takes into putting on professional golf tournaments.”