For a PGA Teaching Professional, there are unique teaching opportunities that are just as indelible in one's memory as a golf shot in competition.
Jim Estes of Germantown, Md., has that feeling as he prepares for the 12th PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, Jan. 24-25, in Orlando, Fla.
The recipient of the 2010 Patriot Award and one of the country's foremost adaptive golf instructors following years serving our nation's wounded warriors, Estes will team with Champions Tour member Ken Green and Ret. Lance Corporal Tim Lang of Ann Arbor, Mich., for the presentation, "Challenges in Coaching."
Making its first visit to Orlando, the 12th PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit is supported by GOLF Magazine, Golf Pride, GolfTEC and SkyCaddie. The Summit is hosted by Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott. The Summit is a sellout, with more than 520 attendees registered.
The PGA director of instruction at Olney Golf Park in Olney, Md., and co-founder of Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA) in 2007, Estes has served the needs of more than 500 members of the nation's armed services. He has given his students, the majority who are patients at Walter Reed Medical Center, hope and enjoyment through golf instruction.
Lang, a retired Marine, is one of Estes' students in the SMGA program, an amputee following a 2006 roadside bomb explosion while serving in Iraq. He lost his right leg after a series of more than 28 surgeries.
The Summit serves as Estes' first meeting with Green, who lost a right leg following a tragic June 2009 automobile accident that also resulted in the loss of his brother, girlfriend and his pet dog.
"I'm very excited about the chance to meet Ken Green along with providing insight to teachers on how to teach from a different perspective," said Estes. "I started 3D golf swing analysis of bilateral amputees. To my knowledge, it has never been done. I think that it is the wave of the future for us to understand why people have certain swing form and flaws.
"Ken Green is an elite athlete who underwent personal trauma and is in the process of re-establishing himself in the game. I will have many questions for him, similar to what I have asked of my students – What has he done in exercise therapy? What has he done in mental training? What is the current state of his game?
"He has overcome an awful lot and that is not unlike the soldiers I have been working with for years. He has had to deal with his form of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]. Many people in our society have to deal with it in so many situations.
"I think that is why golf's mental game characteristics help us as teachers get in touch with how to help students in a form of recovery. If we are successful as teachers, we have an opportunity to have a special gift that can be transferred to students in need."
Estes said that Lang, a standout athlete prior to his service in Iraq and who is just in his third season in golf, has been an inspiration. Lang has already broken 80 for 18 holes several times last year.
"I never knew of Tim's ability as a public speaker and I don't know if he realizes it," said Estes. "I'm very excited to have him with us at the Summit. Tim spoke at one of our SMGA dinners and unified so many in that room by his words. His level of success in learning the game of golf has been tremendous."
Founded in 2007, the Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA) brings together officials of Walter Reed Medical Center and Middle Atlantic PGA Professionals in developing instruction programs and events to serve veterans as well as their families. The partners of Estes' team are Disabled Sports USA and Wounded Warriors.
Estes pursued a tour professional career from 1988 through 2001 and competed in four U.S. Open Championships. He also competed in the 2008 PGA Championship as a PGA club professional and will compete in his sixth PGA Professional National Championship in June.
He said that his off-course career with SMGA was "like a new calling in my life." The focal point of Estes' classroom is The Olney Golf Park, which opened in 1999.
"The stigma that golf has had to overcome is that it is a sport only for the elite," said Estes. "We all have to dispel that myth. When you see veterans together, enjoying their time away from the hospital; get to meet their families and seeing their faces, you know that you have begun down the right path to making the game more mainstream."
The PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit, begun in 1988, is The PGA of America's largest educational forum. This year, the Summit kicks off a busy week for PGA Professionals, many of whom also will travel 1 ½ miles north to attend the 58th PGA Merchandise Show, Jan. 27-29.
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.