Tony Chavez has been a PGA Member for 20 years. But his path in golf hasn’t always been straight-forward.
“I only made the switch back to golf because of COVID,” Chavez said. “I got the campaign from PGA about continued education. I had free access to courses that I’d started and never finished, so I poured myself into them.”
As part of that education, he found PGA.Coach
and became American Development Model (ADM) certified. Chavez –– originally from Indio, California, but raised in Mexico –– was introduced to golf at 6-years-old. After coming to the states, he was blown away by the sheer access kids had to the best courses and latest equipment. And yet, his former club produced Esteban Toledo, who became the first Mexican to win on the Champions Tour in 2013.
“I realized it was possible to become competitive in the world of golf even if you’re coming from no means,” he said. “ADM defies the notion of how kids used to learn… it’s not handing a kid a 5-iron, telling him to hack at it, and come back when he’s done hitting four buckets of balls. It builds athletes for life.”
With PGA.Coach, the switch flipped.
“For the first time in the years since I’ve been a PGA Member, someone shifted the focus onto what should’ve been done all along,” he emphasized. “Focus on the people, rather than on technique.”
Chavez reflected back on what coaching looked like when he embarked on his PGA Membership in the late 90s. There was no engagement, no retention and seemingly nothing to show for it.
So he set out to become a general manager, and another familiar pattern emerged. His members were telling him they loved it when they saw him on the first tee or putting green, but he retreated back to the piles of paperwork in his office.
In 2017, he found himself burned out in the GM role and yearned for a switch into coaching. His first thoughts went to tradition, technique and technology. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this mindset, there’s something major missing: human connection.
“PGA.Coach was a paradigm shift for me,” Chavez said. “We often forget the core value of the PGA Professional, which is to promote the game of golf through touching lives.”
Chavez dove right into cultivating relationships, becoming a pass holder at a local club in Indian Wells, California, and meeting as many people as he can. His warm demeanor, ease and sense of humor make it easy.
“By the pure power of me being a decent golfer, being friendly and relating to people, it’s going to build a database,” he explained. “And that is going to create a ROI beyond my expectations.”
When talking to him, Chavez’s positivity and hope is infectious.
“I’m coming back to this with renewed energy, because I know that the way I saw coaching before to the way coaching is now is totally different,” he said. “I want to be part of it.”