GWD: Joey, you have been in business for yourself for a while now – how did you come to start your own golf academy?
JP: The personal joy of providing golf instruction and the continual pursuit of becoming a better instructor led me to open my own golf instruction program. It started in Palm Springs when I was approached by the Mizuno Japan Golf Company to open a school for Japanese golf students who would come to the US for periods of 3-weeks to 3 months. I began this Academy in 1993 at The Westin Mission Hills Resort and soon became the full golf instruction provider of the resort.
GWD: Being an entrepreneur and self-employed has its advantages and disadvantages. What challenges did you have along the way or do you currently have right now?
JP: Book keeping and record keeping is the largest disadvantage…. It is time consuming. After a full plus day on the lesson tee, it is difficult to make time to do the behind the scenes aspect of the “business”. Growth in business means growing in student base and adding facilities. But, with that growth comes a bigger business to manage. So, I recommend to those who teach to hire and administrator or don’t grow beyond your time you wish to be on the tee.
GWD: You’ve done a great job at building your Systemgolf brand. I’m sure your teaching philosophy and business strategy has changed along the way too. What have you done to remain competitive in this market?
JP: You must stay current with technology and you must provide quality instruction and a good value. I am fortunate to have locations that are busy with traffic and we use our website to provide information and connection with our customer. When you are busy on the tee, you do not have time to discuss with a caller the basic information they are seeking. Therefore, an interactive website that allows the student to find all information, reserve a time, or even inquire for more information is critical.
GWD: What advice would you give to anyone that wants to start his or her own teaching academy?
JP: The order of priority would be number one “Make sure you are committed to being a golf instructor”. It is hard work both physically and mentally. Begin your instruction at a high traffic facility so you may learn the skills of teaching. Then organize your thoughts and get with a good website design team that can help you get on the web to market yourself. Golf Web Design understands golf and golf instruction so their experience and understanding of what a golf instructor needs is essential. Don’t get caught up in the flash but make sure it is user friendly and functional.
GWD: It’s important to stay ahead in this industry to keep a competitive edge. How do you keep learning and adding to your knowledge of the golf swing?
JP: I search the web, read everything, go to seminars on golf instruction, fitness, coaching and all avenues to make my instruction better. You must keep learning and find better ways and methods of communication. I also try to align myself with a top 10 teacher to learn more from some of the best. I would never be where I am today if instructors like Ben Doyle and Mike Bender did not so selflessly share their thoughts on golf with me.
GWD: In this business, as in most, it’s all about WHO you know rather than WHAT you know. Do you believe that networking is an important business tool in the golf industry?
JP: Networking is important to get your name and brand out to the public. But, WHAT you know is what got you to be a good instructor and WHO you know keeps you in the discussion circles.
GWD: We know you’re a great golf instructor, but what do you enjoy when not on the lesson tee?
JP: I still enjoy playing and competing myself. I just turned 50 and will pursue some of the senior division events. I also enjoy mountain biking and just spending time with my family. They keep me grounded and help me get away from the work of golf.