Short Game Olympics

Steve-Whidden-1-28Steve Whidden, the 2013 North Florida PGA Section Teacher of the Year, 2012 and 2013 GRAA Top 50 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional and owner of The Steve Whidden Golf Academy, is a PGA Master Professional and the PGA director of instruction at Rosedale Golf and Country Club in Bradenton, Fla.

To¬†encourage my students and all of our golfers to get out and practice their short games, I decided to take a new approach by creating the “Short Game Olympics.” This is a series of skills tests in all of the critical areas of the short game, including long putting, short putting, chipping and pitching. We post a signup sheet in late September, several months before the December contests, so that each participant has ample time to sign up. What this two-month gap does is create anticipation for the event, while also encouraging everyone at the club to take short game lessons so they can improve on weaknesses that would hurt their chances of winning in the Short Game Olympics. Throughout the first couple of weeks in December, each contestant takes the skills test on their own time and a medal will be awarded for each category within all three associations (Men’s, Lady 18-Holers, and Lady 9-Holers) at our facility. To go along with the medal, each winner is also awarded store credit, which is perfect timing for the holiday shopping season!

Everyone wants to be the best at something, and what is better than being known as the best putter or chipper at the club? Everyone is billed $10 for participation, which helps to supply medals and award store credit. The store credit is perfect to get people in the shop during December, a time when we can sell a lot of great gifts for the holidays. My short game lessons have increased by approximately 40 percent in the time between when the event is announced in September and when the contests take place in December.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email