From the PGA
The Epicenter of an Educational Revolution in American Golf
By Matt Adams
Attendees on the practice greens at PGA Frisco Campus on August 17, 2022 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by The Marmones LLC/PGA of America)
Cast your gaze upon the PGA of America’s new Texas home and you’ll instantly be struck by the property’s breathtaking beauty and its marquee attractions, like the one-of-a-kind golf-themed Omni Resort and a pair of championship golf courses.
But look at the complex with a different set of eyes, like those of PGA Master Professional Dawes Marlatt, PGA, the PGA of America’s Senior Director of Education and Organizational Development, and you might see something else: the epicenter of an educational revolution in American golf.
If that sounds overly dramatic, take a spin through the new learning center at the PGA of America’s home in Frisco, Texas, campus and see for yourself. There you’ll find hybrid indoor/outdoor hitting bays, simulator bays, an indoor short-game area, a putting lab, a full-size driving range and enough technological gadgets to straighten out even the highest handicapper. Basically, it’s everything Marlatt and his colleagues have dreamed about for years.
“It’s the best facility in the world, period,” said Marlatt.
A few feet away from the hands-on coaching areas you’ll also find spacious, modern classrooms for Member and Associate Education. And the best part is that all of this is housed under the same roof as the PGA of America’s Staff location. As Marlatt points out, that fosters networking opportunities that didn’t previously exist.
“Our education center was in Port Saint Lucie [Florida], and our home was nearly an hour south in Palm Beach Gardens,” he says. “Here, everything comes together. From a cultural perspective, that helps us share what the PGA Journey, what the PGA experience, is all about.”
But now, both PGA Members and Associates in the Educational Programs get the best of all that the PGA of America has to offer. They can arrive at PGA Frisco, spend time learning the finer points of the game and how to operate a successful golf business, then walk down the hall and get a primer on ball striking while learning to leverage the latest training tools, things like motion-capture sensors and high-speed cameras, to help players. Afterwards, they can network with other PGA Members and PGA Staff in the Hall of Fame Garden or on one of the terraces overlooking the property, forming friendships and professional bonds that can last a lifetime.
“I was involved in the very early discussions, when we were talking about how this building and our collective efforts could create the best impact possible for all of our [PGA Members and Associates],” says Marlatt. “And it has exceeded expectations. Our CEO, Seth Waugh, said to dream big, so when I presented the concept for something like this, he said okay. And here it is.”
Looking ahead, Marlatt envisions using the Education space to host workshops and seminars for non-members in an effort to grow the game, and he’s thinking of some higher-level learning sessions for PGA Members, touching on concepts like motor learning and neuroscience for Coaches and areas such as hospitality management and food and beverage service for PGA Members who oversee those aspects of their home clubs.
“The better that we can resource around our talent, our PGA professionals, so that they can provide those experiences to their customers, it benefits everyone in and around the game,” says Marlatt.
The future is undoubtedly bright from an educational standpoint, thanks in large part to the learning laboratory in Frisco.
“What I don’t want to happen, I don’t want to become blinded by the wonderful opportunities this building offers. I personally hope that every time I walk in here for the foreseeable future, the next 20 years, let’s say, I walk in and say, ‘Wow, this is incredible.’”