An Inside Look at SMART Golf & Fitness, Where Chicago Golfers are Unlocking Their True Potential

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Published on

The goal of any coach should be to improve the skills of their clients, and not just some, but every single one.
At SMART Golf & Fitness Instruction, they put it in writing, asking themselves: “What would a program look like if it provided the best possible opportunity to help 100 percent of the people it served not just play better, but play to their true potential?” 
It is this pursuit of excellence that has led Co-Founders Joe Sheren, PGA (pictured, left in photo above), and Director of Fitness Tommy Asuma (pictured, above right) to offer two stellar golf and fitness locations: one in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, and another just 20 miles outside the city in Lombard. SMART is also in the process of opening a third location on the North Shore of Chicago.
At the locations, Sheren and Asuma have brought together PGA of America Golf Professionals and fitness experts under the same roof to provide a tour-level experience. Golf is more physical and power-driven than ever before, and along with strength coaching, the SMART Golf & Fitness team works on balance, speed and proper form to ensure their clients have all the tools to play their best golf every time they tee it up.
The tech-loaded indoor hitting bays at SMART Golf.
The tech-loaded indoor hitting bays at SMART Golf.
Every new client gets a two-hour initial assessment to discuss their history and skills and determine their needs and goals, information that will be used to put a personalized plan in place. 
“We initiate the session by having a conversation for 30-40 minutes and then gather swing and ball data via Trackman using a wedge, mid-iron and driver,” Sheren explains. “We collect information using BodiTrak and measure every player’s biomechanics using K-Vest – speed of rotation, quantity of rotation and order of rotation. The individual then engages with a fitness instructor and is put through a full fitness screen. They analyze the person’s range of motion, balance, flexibility, coordination and any areas of pain.
"When the client returns from the fitness screen, we work with the fitness instructor to put a presentation together, communicating our findings with the client. We do this so the client understands what they do when swinging a golf club, why they do it and how we’re going to rectify their deficiencies and limitations, so they can reach their goals, both in golf and in their health and wellness.”
To ensure clients are becoming better athletes, as well as better golfers, engagement is presented within long-term coaching programs (3-, 6-, and 12-months) rather than in one-off golf lessons. 
According to Asuma, when developing an individual program for each student, they consider eleven characteristics that will determine a student’s rate of development, including:
  • Age
  • Years played
  • Sports played
  • Physical screen results
  • Major injuries
  • Lifestyle
  • Genetics
  • Available time
  • Mindset: Growth vs. Fixed
  • Participation in deliberate practice
  • Work ethic
To demonstrate their commitment and ensure the same from their clients, the SMART Golf & Fitness Instruction team requires clients to read their student handbook. There are five sections, a little less than 30 minutes worth of reading, that a student must complete before starting his or her lesson. This information is in place to ensure they’re on the same page regarding the process that lies ahead.

“We set the tone early on. We’re looking for clients, whether they're beginners or tour-caliber, who are serious about getting better and are seeking development in their game, rather than just a simple fix.” 

Joe Sheren, PGA
Sheren and Asuma want their clients’ expectations to match the reality of the situation. They say that without this cohesion, students are more inclined to drop out of player development programs.   
“The No. 1 reason we see players not get better isn’t because they aren’t capable, but it's ultimately because they gave up," Sheren says. "And they gave up because they weren’t patient enough, and they weren’t patient enough because their expectations were not aligned with reality.”
Adds Nick Cuca, one of SMART's PGA Directors of Instruction: “We spend a lot of time as a team educating our students about the learning process and place an emphasis on developing not only a top-tier staff that consists of industry experts, but a top-notch facility."
One stroll through the the Lincoln Park location will back up Cuca's sentiments. The indoor area has seven Trackman devices and is 11,000 square feet with expansive gym space. There’s a 1,000-square-foot putting green with PuttView technology, a player’s lounge, locker rooms, and a retail shop. They even have a putting studio with SAM PuttLab technology.
Providing that holistic approach, SMART also specializes in custom clubfitting to ensure clients are playing with equipment that meets their body type and improving skill set. 
As winter sets in, and golfers look to improve, not just in golf but health, too, locales like SMART Golf & Fitness show why they're different . . . and prove it with results.