When he last stepped on stage at the 1994 PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, PGA Professional James Leitz was making his case for spreading awareness that clubfitting and teaching belong together on the lesson tee.
Fast forward to next month in Orlando, Fla., where Leitz returns to The PGA of America's largest educational event, with PGA Professional Ed Mitchell, with the same mission: to continue to enlighten teachers about club performance and technology. The twosome will come armed with the latest statistical data to make any attendee take notice.
"Any Summit should always be cutting edge," said Leitz, the PGA head professional at Pinewood Country Club in Slidell, La. "Any teacher should continually seek better information, then filter it and present it to his or her students. I also have the distinct honor of presenting such information to enlighten my fellow professionals."
Leitz isn't a member of the PGA Instruction Committee, but he does have shared goals as the 12th PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit expands on a theme of "Getting Results," Jan. 24-25, at the Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott.
Making its first visit to Orlando after four previous appearances at the PGA Center for Golf Learning & Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla., the Summit will serve as a kickoff for a busy week for PGA Professionals. The Summit will be hosted just 1½ miles south of the Orange County Convention Center, site of the 58th PGA Merchandise Show, Jan. 27-29.
Opened in 1997, the Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott is one of five such facilities with Faldo's name throughout the world. It is a 35-acre golf park, which features nine holes of executive golf; five instruction greens; five instruction tees and four practice tees.
The schedule of presenters include World Golf Teacher Hall of Fame member Bob Toski; coaching legend Lou Holtz; and a foursome of PGA Teacher of the Year recipients in Dr. Gary Wiren (1989), Martin Hall (2008), Mike Bender (2009) and Todd Anderson (2010).
The schedule also includes a 19th conversation between Hall and "Golfing Machine" advocate Ben Doyle; VISION 54 co-founders Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, renowned experts on the mechanics of the golf swing; PGA Director of Fitness & Performance David Donatucci; Golf Channel PGA Professional host Michael Breed; and Tour professional turned television analyst Bobby Clampett.
A special presentation on coaching the physically challenged will bring together PGA Professional Jim Estes, co-founder of the Salute Military Golf Association, who is one of the most respected trainers in adaptive golf in the country. Joining Estes will be Ken Green, the Champions Tour 2010 Comeback Player of the Year, who lost a leg following a 2009 automobile accident; and Ret. Marine Lance Corporal Tim Lang of Ann Arbor, Mich., who trained under Estes while a patient at Walter Reed Medical Center.
Lang lost his right leg in 2006 due to roadside bomb explosion while on patrol in Iraq. Having undergone 48 surgical procedures and having spent four years at Walter Reed Medical Center, Lang is into his third year in golf and has regularly broken 80.
"I am excited about coming to the Summit and meeting some of the best instructors in the world," said Lang. "I would never have been as happy, and would have been more depressed, if I didn't have golf. The program (SMGA) and Jim Estes were not terrific – life-altering is more accurate."
Since its origin in 1988, the Summit also has attracted those interested in the interplay between the game and psychology, the advance of technology and the cross training that exists with other professional sports.
PGA Director of Fitness and Performance Donatucci returns to the Summit stage, and partners with Tampa Bay Rays Hitting Coach Derek Shelton, in the presentation "Out of the Park Power."
The wide range of topics in a two-day period was the goal of the PGA Instruction Committee, which reviewed a survey of PGA membership following the 2008 Summit.
"Our survey of the membership resulted in us making the format change, and presenting a dynamic schedule and breakout sessions to aid all attendees," said PGA Director of Instruction Joe Hallett. "The Summit opens with a study of what new instruction looks like today, and what benefits other sports may pick up from golfers."
Leitz will be joined by PGA Professional Ed Mitchell of Dayton, Ohio, the chairman of Mitchell Golf, in the presentation "Club Performance and D-Plane Technology for Better Teaching."
"The D-Plane is a physics model that is simply ‘The Descriptive Plane,' " said Leitz. "It illustrates why the golf ball flies the way it does because of impact."
Mitchell, whose company specializes in professional grade club repair tools, said the presentation also will review how 14 different club performance criteria and how it influences a player's scoring ability."
"Everything we do in golf is related to physics and geometry," said Leitz. "A wise old engineer once told me, ‘Never guess what you can measure.' "
Hallett said the mission of the Instruction Committee was to blend specialists, technology and human performance, and at the same time not neglect the observations of veteran instructors such as Toski and Wiren.
One of the hottest topics in the instruction industry, according to Hallett, is the discussion ball flight patterns based upon current and past PGA research. The Summit will attempt to encircle the topic by bringing together Wiren, a PGA Master Professional who outlined the ball flight "laws, principles and preferences" in the "The PGA Manual of Golf" (1991). He will be joined by Matt Freilich, representing TrackMan Golf, a first-of-its-kind computer system that maps the flight of a golf ball from impact to landing; and PGA Professional Eric Alpenfels, the director of Pinehurst Golf Academy at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort.
"We have yet to have a group discussion on the subject until this Summit," said Alpenfels. "I don't see us having a debate, but rather reconciling the history, examining what was available and update where we are today.
"It is a most important topic because of misinterpretation of what information exists in the industry. Technology has advanced so rapidly that we are in need of gaining a balance of what next steps The PGA may take in regard to research."
Hallett said bringing in the effervescent Holtz, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and a weekly analyst on ESPN football broadcasts, enhances the speaker roster. Holtz will focus his remarks on "The Importance of Being a Coach."
"Clearly, there are intangibles, the accoutrements, if you will, that are all part of coaching," said Hallett. "It is tremendous to have Coach Holtz joining us to expound upon many of those special skills that are transferrable to golf instructors."
The Summit will conclude with Toski reflecting upon his six decades in teaching and how many of the practices of the past have circled around once again into today's golf instruction curriculum.
Begun in 1988, the PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit is the Association's largest forum for ideas and teaching methods. The biennial event evolved from indoor sessions (1988-2000), to an all-outdoor classroom amphitheater at the PGA Learning Center (2002 to today).
Presenters at the 12th PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit
Jan. 24-25, 2011
Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott – Orlando, Fla.
Michael Breed, PGA – Golf Channel – Master of Ceremonies
Charlie King, PGA – New Rules Golf Instructor
Lynn Blake – Alignments Are Forever
Derek Shelton, Tampa Bay Rays Hitting Coach and David Donatucci, PGA Director of Fitness – Out of the Park Power
Lou Holtz – The Importance of Being a Coach
Gary Palis, Mark Connell, PGA and Michael Bentley, PGA – Technology: What You Will Need Today, Tomorrow
John Haime, Simon Jenkins – Mental Facets that Improve Overall Performance
Mark Sweeney – Aiming and Green Reading for Best Putting Results
Michael Breed – Teaching Beyond the Lesson Tee
Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson – Coaching for High Performance
Mike Bender, PGA – Modifying Your Methods to Get Results
Ed Mitchell, PGA and James Leitz, PGA – Club Performance and D-Plane Technology for Better Teaching
Jim Estes, PGA; Ken Green, Champions Tour and Ret. Lance Corporal Tim Lang – Challenges in Coaching
Martin Hall, PGA and Ben Doyle, PGA – 19th Hole Conversations
Bobby Clampett, PGA – Maintaining High Level Play with High-Level Instruction
Todd Anderson, PGA – Tour Player Teachings – For the Rest of Your Students
Matt Freilich, Ecic Alpenfels, PGA and Dr. Gary Wiren, PGA - PGA Research and Ball Flight Patterns – Then, Now, the Future
Bob Toski, PGA – 60 Years of Teaching – What's Old is New Again