At Midwest Golfing Magazine we believe that proper, committed practice with the help of a knowledgeable instructor is the optimal path to improvement. That’s why we have developed an exclusive website series with Andy Runkel, who is the PGA Head Golf Professional at The Bog in Saukville, Wisconsin. Andy has seen it all in his over 18 years of teaching experience and we are thrilled that he has offered to share his insights. Our initial installment starts at the beginning and focuses on Andy’s approach when taking on a new student.
Please provide a brief biography and a few main principles that are your hallmarks when teaching?
I have worked at The Bog (Wisconsin’s only stand-alone Arnold Palmer course) since Sept of 1996 in some capacity, but in the golf shop as an assistant or PGA Head Professional since 1998. I started teaching in 2000 and have grown my business using the model of keeping things as easy and welcoming as possible. Golf is a hard game and if I can provide some support and help you learn the core fundamentals of the golf swing, hopefully it will help you hit better shots. I also am a strong believer of constantly learning new methods and styles of teaching my students. I go to as many teaching/coaching seminars as I can and always am watching online videos to hone my own teaching methods and style. I try to sharpen and keep updated on what is working (and not working) in the world of teaching golf. My teaching certifications include: PGA of America specialty certification in teaching/coaching and I have completed the highest level of certification from Titleist Performance Institute as a level 3 certified golf fitness instructor.
Please discuss how you approach taking on a new student? What things do you look for and how do you try to help a student improve right away without overwhelming them?
When I first meet a student I try to find out any physical limitations or restrictions they might have. I also try to make the learning atmosphere as welcoming as possible. Taking a lesson can be overwhelming. I rarely will break down a golf swing or do a complete overhaul on someone during the golf season. That would be something I will help a student do during the winter months. I want all my students to enjoy the summer and play as much golf as possible.
You mentioned your key fundamentals are Grip, Aim, and Posture- please discuss the GAP method and why they are so important to a repeatable swing?
Grip and Aim to me are very important and overlooked fundamentals in the pre-swing aspect of the golf swing. If you are not aimed correctly or have a poor hold on the club, you will not hit straight shots. I often mention to my students that if you are not using an alignment rod during your practice session, you are not practicing with a purpose. Your hold on the club influences your ability to square the club face at impact – therefore I often start a lesson looking at/discussing a proper hold with students. If you desire to hit consistent shots, you must have good posture from the set-up and maintain that good posture through the golf swing.
How have you been able to use technology such as an IPad to further your teaching platform?
I have used an IPad more during the last couple of years in my teaching. The V-1 teaching app is great and provides instant visual feedback to help my students. I do use my high speed camera, which films at 300 frames per second with any of my repeat lessons. This camera also allows me to email your swing to you so you can view whenever you would like. On a few occasions, I will use the portable launch monitor device I have to provide a student additional feedback – but this device is mainly used for club fitting. Technology is great and it helps the teaching process go very smoothly, especially with the new crop of junior golfers that we introduce to the game every year.
Anything else you would like to add about your lesson business?
I would agree that most people don’t need a golf lesson every week but at least two to three times a season or a package of five is great. I do tell people that you service your car three to four times a year, service your golf game as well. If you do purchase a package of five lessons with me, I often encourage the student to customize it to fit their strengths and weaknesses. A standard package with me would include video swing analysis, a couple full swing lessons, short game evaluation, and a 3-hole on course lesson.
If you would like to schedule a lesson with Andy Runkel you can call The Bog pro shop at (262) 284-7075 or email him at Arunkel@golfthebog.com.