We were thrilled when National President of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals accepted our invitation to talk about her love of teaching.
Deb, thank you so much for catching up with us. Do you remember the moment when you realized the golf instruction would be your career course?
After graduate school, I knew that I wanted to do something in the world of sport and education and a stint with Golf Digest Schools helped cement my decision that golf instruction could combine the two things I went to school for and love.
My longtime mentor and friend, former LPGA Tour Winner and LPGA Master Professional Betsy Cullen has been and still is an incredible influence on my career. Many of the good things that have happened to me happened because of her willingness to share and help in my development. I cannot thank her enough for her belief in me as a teacher to be and her continuous passion to teach (at age 76!) is both inspirational and contagious.
These two things helped me believe in what my intuition was telling me all along. I am pretty grateful about being able to do what I love to do. I am also inspired and grateful to the 13 LPGA Founders. Without their amazing efforts and hard work, we would not be having this conversation today.
What do you enjoy most about teaching golf?
The thing is, I teach PEOPLE, not GOLF, first and foremost. And what a thrill it is for me to be a part of every golfer and golfer to be who wants to improve in and enjoy this wonderful game we all love! I have definitely grown to know that it is all about relationships…teaching people to play golf has given me this and so much more…how lucky am I? Harvey Penick’s book title “And If You Play Golf, You Are My Friend”, really hits home for me.
Tell us about your role in the LPGA and how the organization is helping grow the game?
We are the Women In Golf! The Teaching and Club Professional Membership is one of three interrelated pillars under the LPGA umbrella, the LPGA Tour and The LPGA Foundation being the other two. We are thankful to have a Commissioner (Mike Whan) who understands and appreciates what we “bring to the table” as we all work together to grow the game of golf!
Our research based Teacher Education Program is internationally recognized as THE certification program for golf instructors. Besides a full teaching schedule at my facility in Houston, my role as our National Vice President has been to oversee the continued development and commitment to our mission and vision: “To be the recognized leaders in golf education (our vision) and the development of women golf professionals worldwide” (our mission). I also have the great fortune to serve as the lead instructor in our Global Teacher Education Program that trains and certifies teachers in the U.S. and Korea. Teaching….the LPGA Way!
How can we keep encouraging young women to take up and enjoy the game?
Let us do what we are trained to do and are passionate about! As an organization, we have such a commitment to junior girls with our LPGA Foundation’s Girls Golf Initiative. LPGA trained professionals are often the first people to put a golf club in that new junior golfer’s hands. If this is a positive experience, it will carry over in the future.
What is so great about LPGA/USGA Girls Golf Program is that we have the understanding and programming model that reflects developmental differences between young junior boys and girls…the social/friendship piece is significant and there is a strong correlation with girls staying in the game if they have a Girls Golf atmosphere as part of their learning and playing early on. We get this and really want to do this programming at facilities everywhere. Give us a shot and give us a place to help grow the game…we are trained and passionate about junior golf! Fun creates enjoyment and excitement!
One last question. We know that you don’t just teach junior golfers. Do you have a favorite “tip” that always seems to help your student?
I can right away remember former Masters Champion Jackie Burke telling me never to call my “pearls of wisdom” a tip…LOL…he reminded me that we are not betting on horses at the Kentucky Derby and that the info I am sharing is a well thought out and applicable. With this being said, my favorite “assist” is to simply be my longtime, favorite mantra of “clip and finish”…clip grass to get the ball up, finish left of the target to help the ball end up “straight”. Can it get any more simple than that? Works so great for juniors and adults alike…really helps them to get out of their own way!
Terrific Deb! Thank you for taking the time to share some of your experiences with WomensGolf.com. We look forward to featuring more of your instruction and advice over the next few months.
LPGA Master Professional Deb Vangellow teaches at Riverbend Country Club in Houston, Texas. She is the 2012 LPGA National Teacher Of The Year, an LPGA and Golf Digest Woman “Top 50” Teacher, a Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine “Top Regional Teacher”, a US KIDS GOLF “Top 50 Master Kids Teacher”,and a GRAA “Top 50 Growth Of The Game Professional”,
Deb serves as the National Vice President of the LPGA Teaching And Club Professionals Membership and is a longtime lead instructor in the LPGA Global Education Program. Deb can be reached at 281-277-4653 or followed online at www.debvangellowgolf.com and Twitter.