Try something for me. Next time you’re playing golf or just talking golf with friends, ask the group if they’ve ever heard the name Tom Saguto. Last time I asked, a buddy swore he played catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in the late 1960s. Another wondered if he was one of those guys who does those house-flipping informercials that run ad nauseaum on late-night cable, or perhaps a celebrity chef with his own line of marinara.
The Tom Saguto in question is none of those things. He is, however, a bright, young instructor with one of the fastest-growing golf-related Youtube channels today. Since just before the start of COVID-19 shelter-in-place protocols in March, the Pawley’s Island, SC-based Saguto has added 38,000 subscribers who follow his high-energy brand of teaching the golf swing. His persona and delivery call to mind a young Jim Carrey blended with the confidence, passion and swing expertise of Michael Breed with a dash of golf-centric impressionist Connor Moore just to dial up the entertainment value. The videos are head turners, to say the least.
Stack and Tilt
Saguto, an avid V1 Pro user, has gained traction with golfers by promoting a “Body Friendly” swing that incorporates the tenets of the oft-debated Stack and Tilt method that requires less torque and therefore less strain on the back and hips. Ironically, Saguto is finding notoriety on a platform generally associated with youth culture to attract new students of all ages, but mostly the over-50 crowd, who has embraced the simplicity and pain-free benefits of Saguto’s video lessons.
With eye-catching titles like “The Single Most Important Contact Tip in Golf History,” “If You’re Not ‘More In,’ You’re a Moron,” “A Sledgehammer Can Teach You Everything About the Golf Swing” and “I Am Fixing Tom Brady’s Golf Swing,” it’s clear the always-smiling, shaggy-haired Saguto knows his way around audience analytics and how to effectively grow his online following. This is a skill he developed as an online guitar teacher and as a digital strategy intern at PGA of America headquarters. His guitar lesson Youtube channel, Tom’s Rockin’ Guitar, generously shows viewers how to play classic and Southern rock hits with an easy patience and wry humor that make the lengthy duration (eight minutes to well over half an hour) of the videos acceptable.
When it came time to employ the same techniques with golf, Saguto was prepared to engage his audience and enthusiastic about sharing what he’d learned about the golf swing as a PGM student at Coastal Carolina University and on the tee line at prestigious clubs in South Carolina.
But why hitch his wagon to a once-hot swing method that now stirs lively debates and smirks among the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit crowd and elicits jabs from the groupthink mobs on golf Twitter? Stack and Tilt is what helped Saguto break through and start shooting near then below par after a lengthy tough period where nothing else worked. It was the best, easiest and most repeatable way to swing he’d discovered after studying and trying a century’s worth of classic and popular swing concepts. His followers are fully bought-in to Saguto’s approach. The comments sections of his twice-weekly videos are packed with middle-aged believers who now boast more yardage, less pain, greater consistency and have rediscovered fun on the course.
Q&A with Tom Saguto
Whether you consider him the East Coast’s mild-mannered answer to George Gankas or simply a breath of fresh air in the instruction game, Tom Saguto is a new, unique voice in teaching. And, whether you agree with his ideas or think his celebrity impressions ring true, his videos are resonating with golfers in way we probably shouldn’t ignore. Saguto took time recently for a short Q&A with V1 Sports. Here’s that conversation:
Where does the passion and enthusiasm you project in your videos originate?
The personality I project on camera is 100-percent me. I don’t really play it up. I do the voices and impressions all the time. It’s just part of my communication style. The enthusiasm comes from the joy I get sharing a method for swinging the golf club that works and can be repeated by a large section of people who just want the game to be fun again. When people go from hitting it all over the clubface to discovering that buttery crisp contact that comes from striking the ball first, they fall in love with the game again.
Does it amaze you that you started teaching in 2017 and you now have close to 40,000 followers on Youtube and more than 600 golfers enrolled in your online academy?
It does. I started out as modest as you could get, but I knew I had something that could help people and I knew how to do the groundwork and Guerilla marketing to build an audience. It just took a breakthrough in the form of a video I called “You’ve been swinging the club WRONG your whole life – here’s WHAT TO DO and WHAT NOT TO DO.” That video caught on and now has more than 471,000 views. I was speaking to a lot of frustrated golfers because I had been one. I came close to quitting playing golf before a fellow pro showed me a swing with my weight on my front leg and my arms swinging around my body. The fun I have hitting good shots comes through in my videos and so does the joy I experience in helping people get that same feeling and the same results.
How do you manage the volume and request for instruction that must come from nearly 40,000 new followers?
V1 Marketplace makes it manageable and realistic. Golfers can just go online and choose the lesson plan that works for them and get signed up. Keeping track of students the way I was doing it before wouldn’t have allowed me to scale and manage my business as easily and effectively as being on the V1 platform. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I’m teaching online golf schools with students from all over the world and things are running smoothly.
For a “Youtube Guy,” do you find it interesting that many of your most devoted followers are retirees and older players?
I do, but it’s the pain-free aspect of the swing I teach and that fact that people of so many skill levels can make this swing repeatably. It’s based in physics and geometry, but the point is that the swing doesn’t have to be that hard. I have a 68-year-old student who I work with online and he is hitting longer drives than he has in years, in the 250- to 260-yard range, with occasional 280 yarders. He says he never got to this point with conventional lessons. So many people dream of retiring and playing a lot of golf. It’s so much better when they can enjoy playing.
You share a lot of content in your videos that many instructors would probably keep behind a paywall. What’s your philosophy on “saving some things for the paying academy students?”
I’m young to be giving advice, but I would say if you’re not focused on chasing the money, you’re going to teach better. People are going to see that you’re upfront and honest and they’re going to want to interact more with you. They’re paying for the fix, so you don’t really gain anything by holding back.
How is the V1 Pro platform working for you on a day-to-day basis?
It’s vital to my workflow. To be able access video right out of the gate, create my lesson and hit send keeps me moving. V1 is capitalizing on what’s modern. The habits I saw a few years ago in people getting comfortable learning guitar online is just now starting to break through in golf and V1 is right there at the forefront.
Saguto Golf on Youtube
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