With this week being PGA Championship Week I thought this would be a good time to say thank you to some of my PGA Pro’s and share a few lessons that I learned along the way.
I grew up in the Waterloo area. A community with some of the best Professionals in the Midwest. I was incredibly lucky to play many rounds at Gates Park Golf Course. At the time Skip Holton was the PGA professional. From there I went on to play golf at the University of Northern Iowa. My coach was PGA professional John Bermel.
Working for them and playing golf with them was an enormous influence on me getting into the golf business. Being two of the best players from Iowa I realized it was best to learn as much as I could from them as possible.
Gates Park Golf Course was my home course. My friends and I spent every day there—as much as we could. Someone’s mom dropped us off and we came home in the evening. Eventually I asked for a job.
If you worked for Skip, he wanted to see you play well. So, he would give us some pointers and swing advice. When I was 17 years old, I was hitting range balls with Skip. We were both getting ready for the Waterloo Open.
I proceeded to just hit away, miss the target wide left and wide right. He said to me “Johnny you have a 7 iron in your hand hoping to hit the green. I have a 4 iron in my hands ready to knock down the pin.”
He proceeded to teach the importance of practicing to a small target ALL THE TIME. Practice how you play, and you play how you practice. I focus on this every round and with every student. Pick a target.
Playing for Coach Bermel and working as his assistant I learned a ton about how to play the game. Swinging the club is important, but the most valuable lesson I learned from him was “how far do you hit each club?”
We worked on a lot of fundamentals and ball striking. One day we were out playing in the pouring rain because our tournament got cancelled. I asked him what the most important thing in golf was. Bermel said, “You have to know exactly how far each club carries.”
The most disappointing feeling in golf is hitting a great shot and having it come up long or short of the green. From that point on I used my yardage gun in practice and competitions. I made it my goal to know how far every shot goes with every club. This really helped me with wedges. Getting the correct feel for what a 50-yard shot looks like.
I am very thankful to have learned from Skip Holton and John Bermel. The fundamentals I was taught are still what I use to this day. We all have a coach who helped us get into the game. Lets enjoy another great PGA Championship in Oklahoma! “Thanks PGA Pro”