The Pros

West Coast Pros

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Shirley Furlong
LPGA Member
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Jim Samsing
PGA Member
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Craig Waryan
PGA member
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Mike Ellis
PGA Member
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Lee Maiden
PGA Member
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Sharron Moran
LPGA Member
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Jim Terry
PGA Member
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John Thorsnes
PGA Member
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Brien Paquette
PGA Member
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Jeff Raymond
PGA Member
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Shirley Furlong

LPGA Member

Shirley was an All-American at Texas A&M University in 1983, and after graduating she met with immediate success as a professional. The leading money winner and winner of four events on the Women’s Professional Golf Tour, Shirley joined the LPGA Tour in 1984. Shirley recorded sev-eral Top S finishes in her fifteen year career on Tour which was highlighted with her victory in the 1988 Keystone Open. Shirley was also the runner up in the 1989 McDonald’s Championship and a year later the runner-up in the Nabisco Dinah Shore. A lifelong student of the game, Shir-ley has studied and worked with some of the game’s greatest instructors (Betty Dodd, Chuck Cook and De De Owens). Shirley believes that a good golf swing comes first with good funda-mentals and stresses the importance of having a good “pre-shot routine”. She also believes that teaching her students to manage themselves and the golf course are keys to becoming a successful player. Shirley is passionate about teaching and it shows in her students. Shirley’s upbeat and charming personality will make your golf school with her memorable. Shirley was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.


“Fabulous experience. Instructor terrific — lots of good advice, personalized instruction, notes, etc. Would definitely recommend her to others. Did not talk down to me because of my age — much appreciated. My daughter also found her instruction to be extremely helpful.Thanks for a great experience! ”

-Donna
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Jim Samsing

PGA Member

Jim’s career as a golf professional spans 38 years. A competitive player since 1970, and the winner of the 1973 Montbello Open Pro-Am, Jim also recorded top 10 finishes in several state opens. Jim was also the Head Professional at Mission Hills C.C. in the mid 70’s. His teaching philosophy is to keep the swing as simple as possible, developing strong fundamentals and swing skills, and using the brain as the major tool in the development of these skills. He is the foremost expert in the theory of the “Double Connexion”, a mental discipline used on the PGA tour. Jim is a true master and student of the game, who’s style is successful with players of all abilities. Jim is also an accomplished club fitting specialist. We are proud to have Jim as our West Coast Director of Instruction.


As you know I attended a Golf School with one of your competitors – what a difference. The biggest difference was the instructor. Jim (Samsing) is in a class of his own. After leaving the other school I went home trying to remember all the angles and the lines of my terrible posture etc. (very confused) but with Jim I feel that I have a real chance of improving my game. Jim showed me (simply) how to identify why my shots went the direction that they do. Having the opportunity to have your continuing help only a phone call away is another great part of the school. I guarantee you that I will be visiting you again next year and will recommend you to all my buddies. Thanks again.

-Warren Dyer
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Craig Waryan

PGA member

In an incredibly distinguished career, Craig has earned most every honor that can be bestowed upon a PGA professional. Craig was the Minnesota Section PGA, Teacher of the Year in 2004, twice the Golf Professional of the Year, and four times the recipient of the Bill Strausbaugh award. He has been teaching for 35 years and was only the 87th person to achieve PGA Master professional status. In addition to which, Craig was the Club Fitter of the Year and has appeared on both Golf Digest and Golf magazines’ Top 10 (in Wisconsin and Minnesota) Teachers lists, several times. Craig has topped Golf Digest’s annual list of “Best Teachers By State” for the last 6 consecutive years and was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame in 2014. Craig’s students have won over 30 State Championships, a National title and a National runner-up finish. We are very proud to have Craig as a Senior West Coast instructor and know with certainty, that your golf school with him, will be extraordinary.


Craig was an outstanding instructor. I had three general areas I wanted to focus on: keeping my driver in the short grass, getting my irons into the air and straight, and improving my putting. Craig met and exceeded my goals. He did so with such ease that any changes needed were made effortlessly.He has great wisdom, professionalism and humor that makes every effort fun. I hope he enjoyed my time with him as much as I enjoyed his time with me. I’m planning on a return and will do so based upon having Craig as my instructor.

-Allen
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Mike Ellis

PGA Member

In a career entering its third decade, Mike has distinguished himself as a teacher. Mike is a Quarter Century Member of the PGA of America and Bird Golf’s Southern California Director of Instruction. Mike began his career as the Head Professional at up-scale Tatum Ranch Golf Club before assuming the same position at the very prestigious Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Florida and later at the Monarch Country Club. Teaching has always been at the forefront for Mike and is the showcase for his enormous skills as a communicator, mentor, and coach. In the 20 years before joining Bird Golf, Mike headed up the highly acclaimed Marriott Golf Academy in Palm Desert. Mike’s teaching philosophy is based on fundamentals and ball flight; he is conversant with several methods and styles of teaching. He gives this information to his students in a simple and easy way to understand. His passion for helping his students achieve their best is evident in every school he teaches.


Mike Ellis is a great instructor. He was able to fix my swing and provide me with the tools I needed to improve all aspects of my golf game. He focused on the fundamentals and did not have to fill my head with a million swing thoughts. It was a lot of fun and I now have the confidence I was looking for in my golf game. Thanks again.

-Mark
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Lee Maiden

PGA Member

Lee turned professional in 1973 after serving in the US Navy. His career began at the Wigwam where he had the opportunity to study and learn from golf greats, Hale Irwin, Dale Douglas and Dave Marr. In 1977, Lee was at the Vail Golf Club (where he started the Gerald Ford Pro-Am), where he stayed for two years before becoming the Head Professional at Park Hill GC where he spent extensive time with another PGA legend, Dave Hill. While at Park Hill GC, Lee founded the Colorado Junior Golf Association in 1981. Lee then went on to be the Head professional at Eagle Country Club, Cattails GC and the Heritage Hills GC in McCook, Nebraska. Lee was the Head Golf Coach for the Adams State University from 1995-2000. Throughout his career, Lee’s passion has always been teaching and it is as a teacher that he truly shines. In his 33 years as a professional, he has helped thousands of his students not only improve their games but also to enjoy it! There are several reasons why Lee’s nickname is “The Swing Doctor”. We are proud to have Lee as a Senior West Coast instructor for the Bird Golf Academy.


The whole thing was fabulous. I had a fantastic experience and loved every minute of it! Lee was so patient and taught right to our level. Each hour, as he got to know us better he got even better at meeting us right where we were. It couldn’t have been better!

-Carol
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Sharron Moran

LPGA Member

Sharron was an outstanding amateur golfer who was the Illinois state Champion and also the number 1 player on the University of Arizona’s golf team for four years. After college, Sharron joined the LPGA Tour where she distinguished herself immediately by being the 1967 Rookie of the Year. After competing successfully for ten years on the Tour, Sharron dedicated herself to teaching. Sharron was a broadcaster for ABC television, for whom she covered several major Championships in addition to being an author and the Women’s golf editor for Golf Digest magazine for three years (Sharron also has her own line of sportswear!). Sharron studied with the legendary Bob Toski for 14 years and has hosted clinics all over the world. She has been the Director of Instruction at La Costa, Thunderbird, Lakeside and Crested Butte Country Clubs and been the featured professional for the Tommy Armour Golf Company for ten years. Sharron is familiar with several teaching styles and believes in matching her students to the style best suited for them. Her relaxed and friendly manner ensures that your golf school with Sharron is not only an invaluable learning experience, but you will have fun doing it! Sharron is our Palm Springs Director of Instruction.


I wanted to take a moment to compliment the Academy and Sharron Moran for the learning experience I had in Colorado. Sharron was a very good teacher, and I believe my golf game has improved permanently. I know I have a long way to go, but for the first time I feel like I understand parts of the game rather than just being a ball striker. Sharron helped me to understand some of the game itself (at least as much as can be done in three days) with such things as when to go for the pin and when to just get it on the green; when to take your bogey and go on. I enjoyed Sharron’s company as well as her instruction.

-Kerry
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Jim Terry

PGA Member

Jim has been a member of the PGA of America since 1982. In the early 1980’s Jim was the Teaching Professional at fabled Hazeltine National in Chaska, MN. Jim would then be the Head Professional at the Brainerd Golf Club before spending a decade at Rolling Green Country Club. Jim’s priority has always been teaching and helping others which he does so brilliantly. Jim founded the very successful Mobile Golf Schools and was also the host of the “Rub of the Green” TV shows. A very fine player throughout his career, Jim finished in the Top 10 money list of the Minnesota Section PGA, 5 times, and was the winner of several Pro-Ams and Section events. Jim served on the Minnesota Section PGA’s Board of Directors on two occasions and has been very active in helping youth programs and local charities. Jim’s ready wit and calm and patient approach to his craft are indicative of the man himself. Jim believes that those ingredients are essential in achieving the best results with all of his students and says that: “I love this game. I love to play and I bring that passion to my teaching because I want everyone to feel the way that I do.”


I would like to thank Jim for his incredible instruction. If I had started golf with him, maybe I would be a pro by now!! Jim is an excellent teacher and the best type for me- a “feel” man. He gives the student a feel for what the correct swing is. Thanks again

-Neelesh
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John Thorsnes

PGA Member

A PGA Member since 1990, John has spent the majority of his career in the great Northwest before dividing his time for Bird Golf in Oregon and winters in Arizona. John has been the recipient of several awards in his career having been three times the Teacher of the Year in PGA Chapter, a three-time Golf Professional of the Year, and a five-time Bill Strausbaugh Award recipient. John was the Head Professional at prestigious Clubs: Pumpkin Ridge, Tom O’Shanter and Walla Country Club before developing and owning the highly acclaimed Wine Valley Golf Club in Washington. An accomplished player having won a host of PGA Section events, John has always maintained a focus on teaching, which he now dedicates himself to completely. John has studied and learned with legendary teachers like Jim Flick, Butch Harmon, and Hank Haney who have all influenced his philosophy and style. John believes that simplicity is the most effective way to teach his students and his passion for helping each student is immediately evident with everyone he works with.


What a special 3 days it was for sure! Ken and I spoke several times each day and much more on the flights home. We could not have imagined a more personable, professional and qualified golf instructor who has now had a profound impact on both of our games. A swing system that will stay for life. Determining our preferred learning methods and then adapting your lessons to our learning styles, skill levels and of course the will to improve as driven by our love for the game was the most effective game improvement either of has experienced, ever.

-Chris
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Brien Paquette

PGA Member

Brien has been a member of the PGA since 1990 and has a rich history in competitive golf. He has qualified an impressive seven times for the National Club Pro Championship and has even played in the esteemed Greater Milwaukee Open. Throughout his illustrious career, Brien has held esteemed positions as Head Professional at several prestigious private clubs and developments, including Riomar Country Club, in Vero Beach, Florida. Over the years, he has imparted his knowledge and expertise through thousands of lessons, leaving a lasting impact on his students.

With a patient demeanor and meticulous attention to detail, Brien provides each client with a comprehensive understanding of their unique talents and abilities. By combining his professionalism with his own athletic prowess, he seamlessly integrates an individual’s style and swing, introducing innovative approaches that elevate their golf game to unprecedented levels of excellence. Brien’s approach goes beyond mere instruction, as he strives to create an enjoyable and unforgettable golfing experience. Developing lifelong relationships with his clients, he witnesses their personal growth and expansion firsthand, fostering an environment of continual improvement.


“I had the incredible opportunity to work with Brien at Bird Golf Academy, and it has been an experience beyond compare. From the moment I stepped foot on the course, I knew I was in good hands!Brien’s expertise and knowledge of the sport are unparalleled. He possesses an innate ability to assess my strengths and weaknesses, tailoring his instruction to meet my needs. His dedication to honing my skills and improving my game was evident from the start. The attention to detail and personalized approach made all the difference in my progress. Thank you Brien!!”

-John
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Jeff Raymond

PGA Member

Jeff, a PGA of America member since 1997, boasts over three decades of instructional experience in the world of golf. Hailing from Santa Barbara, California, his diverse expertise spans a rich array of roles. Notably, he established the Golf Academy at Sandpiper Golf Course and held positions as the Head Golf & Teaching Professional at Aliso Viejo Golf Club and Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Golf Resort. Jeff’s teaching style is tailored to individual student goals and expectations. Specializing in the downswing or transition, he emphasizes the critical elements of posture, alignment, and backswing positioning for enhanced ball striking. His deep knowledge of ball flight and curvature equips students with valuable feedback for on-course adjustments and independent practice sessions. Beyond mechanics, Jeff shares strategic insights, fostering a pro-like mindset to lower strokes. With a patient and positive demeanor, he ensures a fulfilling and enduring learning journey for his students.

East Coast Pros

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Amy Benz
LPGA member
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Greg McFee
PGA Member
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Peter Cherry
PGA Member
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Scott Ezell
PGA Member
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Tim Peightal
PGA member
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Craig Smith
PGA Member
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Mary Mills
LPGA member
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Brian Newman
PGA Member
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Amy Benz

LPGA member

Amy’s idol was LPGA Hall of Famer, Amy Alcott, who her father took her to watch when she was 12 years old. From that moment on Amy knew that she wanted to be a professional golfer. They became friends and were even paired together in the final group of the U.S. Open one year. Amy was a star in college at SMU where she was an All American and also the winner of the AIAW National Championship in her sophomore year. Amy was the medalist and the runner-up in the USGA Junior Girls and a member of both the victorious Curtis and World Cups in 1982. Amy would go on to have a very successful career on the LPGA Tour where she won the 1988 Mixed Team Championship and recorded 6 runner-up finishes and two wins on the Japanese Tour. Amy credits teaching legends Craig Shankland, Bob Rotella and David Love Jr. as being major influences in both her game and for giving her the knowledge as she began teaching. And it is with teaching that Amy has found her calling for which she is passionate. Amy’s objective when working with her students is to keep the learning simple and she believes that a sound swing is made up of the entire body, working in unison.

We are very proud to announce that Amy was inducted in the SMU Athletic Hall of Fame on May 6, 2016, at Moody Coliseum. Congratulations Amy!


I enjoyed every aspect of the Bird Golf experience. This was my third academy. Amy was just great. Passionate on teaching and explaining correct mechanics different ways to find what clicked for me.Thank you Bird Academy for another wonderful experience.

-Don
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Greg McFee

PGA Member

At the beginning of his 36-year career as a PGA professional, Greg taught at the prestigious Harder Hall Resort in Sebring, FL. He was the Head Professional at Concord CC in Boston, MA, for 9 years and has also had his own Golf Academy. In the ensuing years he has remained a passionate teacher dedicated to helping his students improve. Those students include several professionals and celebrities including iconic runner, Roger Bannister and even a US President. Greg credits legendary teachers Billy Harmon, Mike Adams, and Brian Smith with helping him learn his craft and the ability to teach several methods and styles. He is also an accomplished writer, having authored several articles about the game, and he has written a weekly newspaper instructional column. Greg believes that golf doesn’t have to be complicated, but it must be fun. His engaging personality and relaxed style make learning with Greg a game changing experience.


We can’t thank you enough for this experience, everything was great and Greg was not only an excellent instructor but a really good friend who made us feel at home. We are looking forward to continuing practicing all the teachings we received and to share with Greg and the Academy our progress.

-Juan & Marcela
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Peter Cherry

PGA Member

A transplanted Englishman, Peter began his extraordinary career at the College of Boca Raton, where he graduated in 1988 after being a N.A.I.A. All-American. Over his 35-year career, Peter has held three very prestigious positions at prominent English Clubs: Harpenden GC, Royal Mid-Surrey GC and Ashridge GC, but his passion has always been teaching, which he now practices all the time. Peter has coached an extensive list of competitive golfers including a Walker Cup squad member and has also been the Golf Union County Coach for Hertfordshire. Peter is also an exceptional player and was asked to represent England Schoolboys and has won several PGA Championships and in excess of 60 Pro-Ams. He is the holder of 5 course records, while most recently having qualified for the 2021 Senior British Open Championship. He does not believe that “one size fits all” when teaching the golf swing but works with each student differently and uniquely helping them create “their own” golf swing. Your school with this delightful man (he has a great sense of humor!) will be in all ways, a game changer.


Peter Cherry was AMAZING and I will want to return for another Bird Golf session with Peter. The golf courses were in very good condition. Overall, I loved this experience and will definitely do it again. You have a really great program, and I am very glad I found Bird Golf Academy. Peter Cherry is an EXCELLENT instructor!

-Yun
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Scott Ezell

PGA Member

Scott was a successful collegiate golfer before turning professional.  He competed on the Canadian Tour where he had several Top 10 finishes before dedicating himself to teaching, which he has been doing for the past 27 years. A PGA member since 1995, Scott was the Director of the Golf Academy at Wintergreen Resort for five years before becoming the Director of Instruction at the Birdwood Golf Academy (at the University of Virginia) where he stayed for 20 years. He is the author of several instructional articles and teaching manuals in numerous publications. He has worked with several Tour players (Brendon De Young and Heather Farr), and numerous Collegiate players. Scott has also had the pleasure of working with quite a few celebrities including John Grisham, Howie Long, and Ernie Banks to name a few. Scott incorporates a variety of teaching methods to help his students and his personality and sense of humor will make your learning experience both fun and rewarding. He teaches by the creed “one thing at a time” and “one thought at a time”.


Writing to thank you all for making the golf clinic experience such an enjoyable couple of days with Scott and my youngest son, Stefan.We had a fantastic time and really appreciated Scott’s excellent teaching approach both in terms of the clarity of his instructions, his patience, professionalism and warm demeanor which put us both at ease.Once again many thanks and I look forward to a follow up session this Fall in the Florida area

-Jon
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Tim Peightal

PGA member

Tim began his 35 year career as a PGA professional at the Disney World golf resort in Orlando where he had the opportunity to observe and study with some of the legends in golf instruction; Davis Love Jr., Jim Flick, Bill Strausbaugh and Bob Toski. Tim would later work with 1928 US Open Champion, Johnny Farrell and 1935 PGA Champion, Johnny Revolta. Tim served as the Head professional at Indiana Country Club for 7 years before returning to Florida where he was the Director of Instruction for The United States Senior Golf Academy for six years. Tim’s goal is to find as many ways as possible to make learning fun and feels that since every golfer is different, then each of his students should be taught, differently. His enormous skill as a teacher comes from his understanding of several different methods, and being able to identify, the perfect method and style with each of his students. We are proud to have Tim as our East Coast, Head Professional.


I would like to express my complete satisfaction with the training provided by Tim P. of Bird Golf Academy. It turned out to be a great experience and well worth it. Tim easily identified my major flaws and quickly had me working on fixing them. He did not have me start from scratch (the last person I took lessons from wanted to do just that — start over after forgetting what I did for 10 years!). Instead, Tim retained the ‘good’ parts of my swing and had me working within my physical abilities. I was pleased to see the results. I got a great deal out of the time we had and am now confident that I will be able to play a good game. Tim was easy to work with and I have a great deal of respect for his teaching abilities. Thanks to the Bird Golf Academy!

-Philip
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Craig Smith

PGA Member

A PGA Member since 1978. In 1989 Craig was elected as a PGA Master Professional. While managing high profile country clubs such as Quaker Hill CC, Palmetto Pine Country Club, and as Director of Golf Operations for International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) overseeing 5 clubs, he never gave up his love and desire to build and inspire golfer’s improvement. Craig has been associated with and an instructor for John Jacobs Golf, Craft-Zavichas Golf, Golftec, as well as his own Academy. He has been a certified fitter for Henry-Griffits, Slazenger, Ping, and Taylor-Made. His career has seen him receive many honors including being voted by his peers as not only “Golf Professional of the Year”, but recently voted into the North Florida P.G.A Section “Hall of Fame”.


The 1:1 instruction was excellent and Craig Smith could not have been more patient, kind and helpful. He was an absolute pleasure. His communication from the get go was outstanding and made us feel welcome and ready for our golf school. His instruction was far better than instruction I have received in the past, and I’m looking forward to my next school with Craig!

-John
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Mary Mills

LPGA member

Winner of the 1963 U.S. Open, Mary’s career as a player and teacher is second to none. A member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, Mary enjoyed 18 years on the LPGA Tour, during which time she won 9 tour events, including three major championships (the LPGA Championship in 1964 and 1973, as well as the U.S. Open). Now an accomplished golf course architect, Mary’s first love remains teaching. A member of the LPGA Teaching Division since 1980, Mary prides herself on working with players of all skill levels. As a student of the game, Mary has studied and worked with some of the game’s legendary teachers: Johnny Revolta, Tommy Armour, Paul Runyan, Bob Toski, and Ángel de la Torre to name a few. Mary’s extensive background allows her to evaluate each student differently and individually – and makes a golf school with Mary a “once in a lifetime experience.”


Mary Mills was the absolute highlight of my experience. She was patient, smart, funny and an amazing teacher. I left inspired to practice and play with a renewed purpose, now that I know how to swing a club! Her instructions are embedded in my memory and since I’ve been back, those memories are alive and there during my practice. Thank you for such a productive experience.

-Amy
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Brian Newman

PGA Member

Brian is a highly decorated, Class A member of the PGA and has a degree in Professional Golf Management from Florida Golf Coast University. After 17 years of teaching up to 1,000 hours a year, Brian successfully launched and owned two golf academies in Fort Myers, FL, and now is on his third, at Aileron Golf Club. Brian has a distinctive background that includes golf instruction and fitness expertise. He has been a certified personal trainer and golf fitness and coordination specialist for over ten years, with several certifications from the Titleist Performance Institute.

Rounding out his background in full-swing performance, Brian has learned short-game techniques while teaching alongside some of the game’s top instructors, including Stan Utley and Jeff Pierce, a short-game coach for multiple tour players.

“When I go into a teaching session, I don’t look to change swings. I simply make them more efficient.  This is my goal. I take a player’s pre-existing habits, find their fatal flaw, and correct it in the simplest way possible. The technique avoids modifying a player’s swing style and attacks the cause of the issue rather than chasing the effect, which is a common practice. By doing this, we will see positive ball flight changes take place quickly with measurable data to prove our concept.”

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