If you tried to explain to a non-golfer the importance of keeping your swing sharp during shelter-in-place protocol, they probably wouldn’t get it. However, for those of us who are passionate about the game, spring and early summer is typically all about getting your game in shape for a fun and productive season on the links. Thanks to dedicated V1 Pro teaching professionals across North America and Europe, countless golfers have been able to make progress in their games this spring by taking remote lessons over the V1 Golf app.
Chipping balls in the backyard or putting in the basement can certainly keep you connected to the game, but having a top instructor review your swings and send customized lessons back can keep you firmly on the path to improvement. While COVID-19 quarantine guidelines restricted access to thousands of courses, academies and teaching centers across the U.S., a strong number of professionals used the V1 Pro software and mobile app to not only sustain their businesses, but to actually GROW their client bases a bit during the pandemic.
Perhaps no instructor has built a larger audience during lockdown than South Carolina-based PGA teaching professional Tom Saguto, founder of Saguto Golf and the fast-growing Youtube channel of the same name. In February, Saguto — whose video content blends the energetic showmanship (and frequent celebrity impressions) of a Saturday Night Live audition tape with the commanding confidence of a seasoned, proven instructor — had fewer than 1,000 subscribers to his Youtube channel.
After he posted a video called “You’ve been swinging the club WRONG your whole life – here’s WHAT TO DO and WHAT NOT TO DO,” which now has more than 438,000 views, his following grew rapidly and viewers soon took note of his prolific lesson library. Amazingly, his subscriber base now tops 36,000. With his lesson menu on the V1 Marketplace, Saguto is able to easily manage the swelling volume student inquiries.
Saguto 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. Skeptical? In the words of one of Saguto’s recent converts,
“I’m a senior golfer here and I switched to your method and all I can say is that it works, love your teaching, I’m hitting the ball like never before. I even can hit my long irons. The ball is scared to death when I bring out my four hybrid now because it knows it’s about to get BLASTED! 65-year-old guy here, going Beast mode!!!!!!!!!!”
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Instructors have also been using V1 Pro for practical purposes, like staying in closer contact with their members. Garrett Goodrich, head golf professional at Stockdale Country Club in Bakersfield, California says he uses V1 Pro in every in-person lesson he gives, so getting students to try remote lessons was a little easier because they were accustomed to the platform and like the idea of getting instruction in between lessons.
“Once the students have the patience to go through receiving their lessons on the V1 Golf app, it’s a piece a cake to just make it part of their game improvement routine,” Goodrich says. “Our facility was only closed for two to three weeks, but letting members see we have the technology to reach them anytime, anywhere is an important message that strengthens those relationships.”
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Former LPGA player Meaghan Francella routinely used V1 remote lessons with her teachers (like GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teachers Tom Patri) during her playing career and she recently launched the DNI Online Academy (for the Dormie Network) to reach more students.
“V1 is a great platform to stay connected with students when you can’t see them. I have personally used this with my coaches when I was traveling or schedules didn’t permit and it’s one more great tool we have to stay in close touch with students,” Francella says.
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Justin Riker, who teaches out of Wilmington, North Carolina’s River Landing Country Club, enjoys incorporating an increased volume of remote lessons into his workflow.
“I don’t want students to ever lose where they were when we made progress on the lesson tee, so V1 has really helped with continuity and keeping my students sharp,” Riker says. “Remote lessons using V1 have even helped some of our beginners make significant progress. I have one female who was struggling to get the ball airborne in our early lessons and now hits shots pretty consistently. Hearing that she had recently ‘kicked her husband’s tail’ on the course gave me a big kick.”
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Just as Zoom meetings have evolved into the ‘new norm’ in business, many pros and avid golfers have discovered the benefit of using V1 Golf and V1 Pro to keep the improvement process going. Even with a majority of the country’s courses now reopened, the dynamic of live lessons is being reexamined and re-tooled constantly. Also, the gains that can be had by supplementing remote lessons in between live lessons promises to continue to be an integral part of the instruction equation moving forward.