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Creating Excellent Golfers At Norcal Golf Academy

12 May 2014 Written by  By Tom Rezendes
Published in May 2014 Articles

We founded NorCal Golf Academy in February of 2012

with the mission of bringing to the Contra Costa golfing public levels of technology and training that were usually only available to the world’s best players. The Academy is on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Walnut Creek, conveniently located across the street from The Golf Mart and within walking distance of Kepler Custom Golf Clubs & Repair. We have a spacious facility with two lesson bays, three practice bays, a large indoor sand bunker, and indoor putting greens. We also have a fitness room where we do golf fitness screenings, plus use TRX, the TRX RIP trainer, and variable resistance exercisers, medicine balls, etcetera.

We offer services to anyone who wants to improve their golf game. Most of our clients are average golfers who want to be above average, plus some fine golfers who are striving for excellence. Many of our high school and college-age clients are dreaming of one day playing on the tour. Last year a high school junior who took lessons from us competed in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open.

The NorCal Program
NorCal Golf Academy is utilizing the knowledge we gained from our certification programs with The Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) to promote progress far beyond anything a person could learn at a driving range because we bring the power of technology, knowledge, and feedback to bear on creating genuine improvement in a person’s game. Our golf instructions go much further than simply giving lessons about posture, stance, and swing. We conduct a thorough analysis of each client’s unique physiology, particularly as it affects such things as pelvic tilt and shoulder rotation. We check clients’ balance, videotape their golf swing, and talk to them about exercise habits, and personal goals. We assess any trauma or chronic condition that might be inhibiting their range of motion. We focus this attention on details concerning a client’s physical condition because of the effect it will have on the person’s golf game. Taking into account any physical restrictions our clients might have enables us to provide custom responses designed to help them manage those boundaries. We utilize the knowledge we have gained in order to provide a reasonable estimate of clients’ potential, and thus are able subsequently to give them directions that they are actually able to follow while setting expectations that are actually within their reach. We encourage client’s to regard golf as a journey of self-exploration and discovery.

Our learning modules include such things as video-based 3D swing analysis and fitness tracking. Our knowledge base, coupled with state-of-the art technology. gives us the ability to encourage progress and improvement in hours that might take a client weeks without the program. As opposed to a driving range where feedback is limited to the direction the ball was hit and the distance traveled, we have instruments that permit us to measure every aspect of a swing and then, based upon feedback from electronic screens that analyze the shot, we can create customized exercises to make corrections and improvements before the client takes the next swing. We can analyze a shot with great precision using telemetry based upon Doppler measurements. Amazingly, the technology can report the metrics for at least 26 separate variables, including such things as Attack Angle, Ball Speed, Carry Distance, Club Path, Club Speed, Dynamic Loft, Face Angle, Face to Path, Landing Angle, Launch Direction, Side, Smash Factor, Spin Axis, Spin Loft, Spin Rate, Swing Direction, and Swing Plane.

We offer our NorCal Academy training to golfers of any ability and experience, from newbies to seasoned players, and for any age. One of our clients, in his 80s, is still improving his game. We have a program for junior golfers as young as 10 years old. This is a good time to begin learning the game because it is a period of childhood development in which children are nearing the peak of their ability to master new skills and advance rapidly in mastering fundamentals of the game. Many tour professionals began their first lessons when they were this age. Our Junior Program offers two levels of instruction including a plan for young people who intend to engage in high school-level competitions, and a plan for younger or less experienced players. At every point in our program, we encourage proper physical conditioning in addition to golf instruction. The health and fitness we promote with our young golfers improve their chances of success in every part of their lives.

For older young people, NorCal Academy offers programs that focus on speed, power, and strength, including all aspects of physical conditioning. We encourage a 40% to 60% ratio of competition to training. Young clients at this level get a USGA handicap and are encouraged to engage in 10 to 12 competitions per year. Following high school, our program prepares them to compete at the college level with focus on national tournament play and physical development. At this level they possibly engage in 15 to 25 competitions per year.

In spite of the wealth of experience and technology we bring to our clients, the NorCal Golf Academy prices are reasonable and affordable. We charge $15 an hour, for example, for access to radar-based technologies, TrackMan, Sam Puttlab, and Flight Scope. Other places might charge $100 per hour for equivalent exposure, and none of them are located within 100 miles of our facility.

Back Story
I grew up in Danville and played my first round of golf at the Rancho Mirage Country Club when I was 11 years old. From the beginning, the game seemed to come easily to me; people told me that I had a natural swing. Baseball became more important to me than golf during my teenage years, but I continued to play recreational rounds through my mid-20s. At that point I developed a passion for the technology of the game. I was interested in how the game of golf actually worked at its most fundamental levels. I wanted to be able to dissect each part of the game and to learn, for example, how the physics of a golf swing, including such things as face angle and the geometries of the club’s motion, actually influenced the distance and direction of a ball’s flight. I enrolled in the PGA Apprenticeship Program in 2006 and during the subsequent two years spent hundreds of hours of intense study under the mentorship of a golf professional. I applied myself and worked my way through the multiple levels of an intense work-based curriculum, filling out a bookshelf-full of workbooks covering every part of the golfing industry including customer service, management, and even Agronomy subjects that included such esoteric topics as turf-grass management and soil composition.

By the time I received my certification as a PGA Professional, I had mastered all parts of the game and was qualified to apply for such positions as golf course superintendent, general manager, or head golf professional at any course. I was especially qualified to become a professional level golf instructor, which was the main point for me, because teaching the game had been my real passion.

Securing my PGA membership was only the beginning. I went on to enroll in the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), which offers a certification program that delves deeply into the game covering such categories as Golf Mechanics, Golf Coaching, Medical Professional, Fitness Professional, and Biomechanics. The program had been put together using input from international golfing experts from more than 20 countries. After graduating from the program, I was qualified to do such things as give golf-specific physical examinations, analyze 3-D motion capture data in order to measure swing efficiency, and to create customized workout programs designed to improve a golfer’s performance.

After completing the TPI certification, I had mastered the principles of training that were used by the top PGA professionals. It occurred to me that a wonderful service would be to provide local golfers with that same level of training, so that any golfer who was serious about taking his/her game to the next level could apply the same swing biomechanics and analysis, plus physical screening techniques used by the pros.

I met another golf-teaching aficionado, Kjerstin Taylor, when I was giving lessons at Orinda Country Club. Romance and marriage followed in due time. It is satisfying to be married to someone who shares my passions. Another woman, Rebecka Heinmert, who was a former golf professional at Black Hawk Country Club, joined the team. It is just a coincidence that both women are from Sweden. Both of them are fully accredited instructors. In fact, the three of us hold multiple credentials and diplomas in the golf industry. We have 28 teaching certifications covering every aspect of the game displayed on a 30-foot wall in our facility. The three of us have a huge knowledge base. We have credentials in every aspect of professional golf instruction and analysis.

NorCal Golf Academy is in the happy business of helping people of any age engage in the sport of golf at the highest level of play possible given their skill level and experience — from cheerful beginners to seasoned players with their eye on the PGA Tour.

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