PGA Junior Golf Camps Blog
A Director’s View: Q&A, June 2020

June 3rd, 2020



Here is what some of our experienced PGA Junior Golf Camp Directors have to say in their own words about how they are getting ready for the summer camp season.

Andrew Frakes


Plantation Golf Club
Frisco, TX

What changes have you made to teaching programs as a result of our current circumstances? How have your students responded?
As a result of our current circumstances, teaching programs have been segmented so that there are smaller classes. We have implemented a maximum of 4 students in a class. Class times have also been changed so that we can stagger classes and break times throughout the day. We also have the logistics of transitions during the day mapped out clearly through the use of guided paths as students move from different locations. When students work in a given section there are markers spaced six feet apart clearly indicating where to stand to keep a safe distance. This is consistent for the putting green, driving range and short game facility as well. I have even hired another person whose job is to sanitize our facility between rotations of students. Other safety measures that we have taken include that instructors are required to wear masks and gloves, and even though everyone is spaced six feet apart, we also provide masks for every single student that wants it. In response, the students have been happy to be out of the house and doing something in a fun, safe atmosphere. 

This has been a challenging time for everyone. What have you found is the biggest challenge in teaching? What have you done to meet this challenge?
The biggest challenge is not having the kinesthetic and hands-on aspects of teaching due to social distancing guidelines. As a result, I have had to rely heavily on verbal and visual cues. Doing this while maintaining six feet of space has been a challenge, so we have developed illustrations and animations to help teach technique. This incorporates an entertaining and fun aspect that will hold the students’ attention while also teaching important skills. The main focus is to create interesting and cohesive visual cues that will help students retain information. These visual cue cards are laminated and sanitized after each group.

What advice do you have for parents of potential campers during this time?
I want parents to know that everyone who is partnered with the PGA Junior Golf Camps is highly qualified to be doing what they are doing. The instructors also have student safety as their top priority. I want parents to feel assured that their kids are in good hands and we are doing the very best that we can to keep everyone safe.  

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned during the last few months?  
The biggest thing I have taken away from these times is the importance of my communication strategy with parents. I would have liked to have a more developed social media presence so that I could have that platform as my main means of communication, and not just have to rely so heavily on email since I get more interaction on social media.

What are you most looking forward to this summer camp season?
I am honestly just excited to see the kids and their happy faces. We weren’t sure that we were even going to be able to have camps and I am so glad that we are going to be able to. I am looking forward to seeing the new faces at camp, but also the ones who have been there before. We teach more than just golf, we teach bigger life lessons through golf. The mentorship part of the program has been something that has been lacking for me these past few months, and I am really looking forward to this rewarding part of camps.

  • Andrew Frakes is the Director of PGA Junior Golf Camps at Plantation Golf Club. He is also the founder of The Frakes Method Golf Academy. As a member of the Callaway Kings of Distance Long Drive Team and Guinness Book of World Records, Andrew Frakes has proven himself on the course and shown his passion as a competitor of the sport. Andrew is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Professional Golf Management (PGM) program. As a driven golf instructor, Coach Frakes has developed a system that focuses on individual players progressing at their own pace. It is about the experience that the students are able to enjoy while on the course, which will result in returning to the course excited to play. Results of the Frakes Method can be seen in the players of all ages that have gone through any number of classes. From junior golfers, building skills and fixing habits as they progress; to adult golfers that are now competitive in the rounds they are sharing with friends and co-workers.

 

Colby Wollitz
Persimmon Ridge Golf Club
Louisville, KY

 

What changes have you made to teaching programs as a result of our current circumstances? How have your students responded?
One of the biggest changes that we have made to our teaching programs is that we have created more distance between stations. We also have added coaches so that our player to coach ratio is lower. We are doing a lot more instruction on the golf course where it is easier and more natural to distance as opposed to the practice facility. In response to these changes, we have had nothing but great feedback. Everyone enjoys being on the golf course more and it has been great to get our students out on the course more. We have been fortunate enough to be able to stay open throughout this time and as a result we have seen the best improvement in our students compared to any other spring that The Golf Academy has been running during the past six years. 

This has been a challenging time for everyone. What have you found is the biggest challenge in teaching? What have you done to meet this challenge?
The biggest challenge in teaching has been sanitizing non-golf related things, whereas keeping the golf items clean is not a challenge. This has been a challenge because it is something that, as a golf coach, I have never had to worry about before, like cleaning door handles and bathrooms. 

What advice do you have for parents of potential campers during this time?
My advice for parents is that if you have any concerns, reach out to the camp directors ahead of time. Voice your concerns and see what the director is doing to address those concerns. If we don’t know that you have a question or concern, we can’t answer or address it. So my advice is to be proactive in your communication and reach out before the start of camp.

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned during the last few months? 
I have a few takeaways from this. The increased time spent doing short game and on-course training has positively impacted the students. Also, the biggest thing that I have learned is how to use technology and virtual tools in a better way. I have done a five-week virtual mental game bootcamp and a five-week virtual course management bootcamp during this time. Now that I know how to use this technology to benefit my students I would like to continue to do so in the future.

What are you most looking forward to this summer camp season? 
I am most looking forward to seeing everyone back out on the golf course having a good time this summer!

 

  • Colby Wollitz is the Director of PGA Junior Golf Camps at Persimmon Ridge Golf Course. He is also the Director of Player Development at The Golf Academy. He is a member of the PGA of America and since turning professional, has won multiple Sectional PGA events, was medalist in a U.S. Open Local Qualifier, and competed in the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship. He believes that there is no perfect golf swing, only a series of acceptable positions that WILL change from player to player. He enjoys working on the mental side of the game as much as he does the golf swing itself.
Matt Dito

Silverado Resort
Napa, CA

 

What changes have you made to teaching programs as a result of our current circumstances? 
In past summers, we have done full day camps and half day camps. However, this year, we have gotten rid of the full day camps and instead will have two separate half day sessions each week: one from 9 am to 12 pm and the other from 1 to 4. These changes have been made to help parents feel more comfortable about having their kid in a camp setting. We are not only limiting the duration of camp, but we are also reducing the size of camps. Other changes that I plan to make are that lessons are going to be strictly verbal and any touching of clubs or physical adjusting of a student’s form will not take place. While the guidelines for social distancing are that people need to keep 6 feet apart, I am going to try to have students and coaches maintain a distance of 8 feet, just to be even more cautious about it. I am also using mats that are spaced 10 feet apart so every kid knows exactly where they are supposed to swing their clubs and we will have clear walking plans mapped out to maintain this distance. Another thing that I am going to do is that even though the mask requirement is not mandatory outdoors, I am going to be wearing a mask to set an example and be extra safe during my junior instruction right now. My students are not required to bring a mask, but they are welcome to do so if that makes them feel more comfortable. 

This has been a challenging time for everyone. What have you found is the biggest challenge in teaching? What do you anticipate doing to meet this challenge?
Personally I think fear has been a challenge and might be a little bit of a hurdle. As instructors, coaches and directors of camps, I think it is our responsibility to reassure the parents that we are taking the necessary precautions to keep their kids safe. I am treating their health and safety as if they were my own kids. 

What advice do you have for parents of potential campers during this time?
I just want parents to know the precautions we are taking. Now at Silverado, junior classes are required to wash and sanitize their hands every thirty minutes. Very strict social distancing guidelines are going to be adhered to. We are really emphasizing no shared equipment. Everyone has to have their own set of clubs; we are not even loaning clubs right now. All of the precautions we are taking are for the kids. Other places might not be taking these steps, but we are doing this in our atmosphere for the protection of your kids. 

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned during the last few months?  
From a personal standpoint, a lesson that I have learned from our current circumstances is don’t take anything for granted. We are in uncharted waters right now, and as time goes on over the next weeks and months the industry is going to take a different look and we are going to change the way we interact with our students, and that is okay. Enjoy each day as you have it. 

What are you most looking forward to this summer camp season?
I am just excited about seeing the kids. I want to get back and be out there and see the kids. I am a 49-year-old, who is 13-year-old at heart. I just love hanging out with the kids and having a good time. I am looking forward to seeing progression during the week of camp, but I am mostly excited to have fun with the kids. 

  • Matt Dito is the Director of PGA Junior Competitive Edge Day Camp at The Johnny Miller Academy at Silverado Resort & Spa. Matt has been a Class 'A' Member of the PGA of America since 2005 and is originally from Petaluma, CA. He has been teaching Golf since 1998 and has created his own distinctive brand of instruction that engages the student to determine the most effective learning style. Matt enjoys working with students of all ages and ability levels, enjoys helping junior golfers develop their swings and a passion for the game, and helping more accomplished players exceed their goals.