In Las Vegas, GolfTEC's passion is students' gain

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

There's no guesswork at Las Vegas' GolfTEC learning center. Using sophisticated motion-sensor technology, golfers see improvement quicker and more efficiently than through traditional golf lessons.

GolfTEC in Las Vegas
Players learn swing changes faster indoors than outside, said PGA Professional Tim Sam, head of GolfTEC in Las Vegas.
GolfTEC in Las VegasGolfTEC - ClubfittingGolfTEC - Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - Tim Sam is committed to teaching golf, and so are his other coaches at Las Vegas GolfTEC. It's all they do, and they are good at it.

Sam, who graduated from the Professional Golf Management Program at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., knew early on that instruction would be his focus as a PGA Professional. He fell in love with teaching in 2002 while working at the Faldo Golf Institute in Palm Springs, Calif. But it wasn't until two years later when he moved back to Michigan and started working at a GolfTEC facility that he said he found a better way to teach.

"Immediately, I was drawn to the technology I had access to," Sam said. "It has absolutely revolutionized my ability to coach players."

So, a year ago, Sam decided to move to Las Vegas and open up his own facility. Through mostly word of mouth, Sam's teaching business has grown - so much, in fact, that he has hired three coaches and plans to open up another facility in Henderson. The new facility, set to open in February, will have five teaching bays. The original location in west Las Vegas has three teaching bays, where the staff conducts some 300 to 400 lessons per month.

You may be asking yourself, however, "How can an indoor facility possibly offer a lesson program better than outdoor teaching?"

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Sam asked that very question when he was first exposed to the technology in 2004, but he found out there are advantages to indoor teaching. Sam said that there is research that suggests that players learn swing changes three to five times faster indoors than outside, and his experience confirms that research, he said.

"The reason indoor instruction is so valuable is that golf is a process-oriented game," said Sam, city manager and part owner of Las Vegas GolfTEC. "In other words, what you execute in your swing causes ball flight. In order to make sustainable long-term improvement, your swing must become more efficient and reliable.

"I see changes take place must faster indoors. When a player is going through change, ball flight can suffer. We are making changes that feel strange, disrupt their feel and change their timing. Of course, contact can suffer in the short-term. Therefore, being inside, I can eliminate the negative feedback the player receives through the poor shot. Instead, I use the video and motion measurement to display positive feedback when the change was done correctly, independent of the shot itself."

How GolfTEC works

The TEC in GolfTEC, by the way, stands for: technique, equipment and conditioning. The company's philosophy is that if you have fundamentally sound technique, properly fit equipment and are in good physical and mental condition, you will play your best golf.

The GolfTEC experience begins with an initial evaluation - a 90-minute swing consultation that starts with an in-depth interview about the current state of your golf game. Sam and his coaches then employ body motion synchronization measurement along with high-speed digital video to quantify the body's movement compared to PGA Tour players. They then create an individualized game plan that elaborates on what was seen in the initial evaluation.

"This game plan is generated entirely around the goals of the player. It includes in-bay training and practice, indoor and outdoor short-game training and outdoor playing lessons," Sam said. "Custom club-fitting is essential to a player's success, as well. Therefore, custom club fitting is included with each of our improvement plans."

What a GolfTEC student can expect

Improvement plans, as they are called in the GolfTEC world, range from three months in length to a year, based on the initial evaluation. Plans range from approximately $70 per lesson down to about $47 per lesson depending on the plan.

Besides Sam, the rest of the coaching staff at Las Vegas GolfTEC includes: Tim Hendry, a PGA apprentice and valedictorian of the San Diego Golf Academy; Jim Shaw, a Las Vegas veteran teacher and Ping Clubfitter of the Year in 1999; and Tyler Christensen, a recent graduate of the San Diego Golf Academy and also a PGA apprentice.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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