Chris Ardolina - Chris Ardolina Golf LLC
Chris grew up in central New Jersey and began playing golf at the age of 12 with his grandfather. He quickly became fond of the game and began shooting “par” at his home course by age 14. He was recognized as one of the top junior golfers in the area. Chris then proceeded to play 4 years of varsity golf, and is still tied for the lowest 9-hole score in a match in school history (3 under par 33).
Interested in pursuing a career in golf, Chris attended Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Upon graduation he took a job with the Jim McLean Golf Schools (#1 Golf School in America) in Miami, Florida, where his passion for teaching began.
Chris spent 8 years at Jim McLean’s flagship location in Miami and became an expert in Jim’s teaching and coaching system. He continued his quest for knowledge and studied under some of the best instructors and coaches in the game.
Chris positioned himself at one of Chicago’s top private clubs for seven years ( Lake Shore Country Club) and then moved to Florida to became the Head Teaching Professional at Wycliffe Golf and Country Club in Wellington, Florida. He now teaches full time in Clearwater, Florida and is considered one of the busiest teachers in all of Pinellas County.
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
When I was about 12 years old my grandfather had just retired and was looking for something to keep himself busy. He asked me if I would like to learn the game of golf with him and I jumped at the opportunity. I became so enamored with the game, that I stopped competing in other sports and dedicated myself to golf. Within a year or so I started to compete in local junior tournaments.
Fast forward a few years to high school. I was a top player in the state of New Jersey and my team in high school was undefeated my senior year (21-0). Like most kids, I dreamed of playing college and professional golf , but when I was 16 I had a “reality check” and came to the realization that my game was not at the level it needed to be to compete in D1 college. Some may think that this would be crushing to a teenager , but I think it was the best thing that happened to me. This is when I decided that I wanted to pursue a career as a golf professional and I applied to a few Professional Golf Management (PGM) schools. I attended Methodist University and graduated with honors and a Business Degree along with my PGA “Class A”. While attending Methodist, I played and practiced almost every day and left college a much better player than when I arrived.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
With todays virtual learning platforms, it is quite easy to stay informed and up to date. Even with a busy teaching schedule, I find the time to attend teaching seminars, earn various certifications, read instruction books, have round table discussions with other coaches and going in person to watch other coaches teach. This year alone I attended 4-5 teaching seminars(virtual and in person), earned 3 new certifications, watched over 40 interviews with top coaches, and observed 2 coaches in person.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
I am excited to see that golf is growing again. As a result of the “pandemic”, according to the NGF golf has seen over three million of new golfers starting the game and millions more coming back after a hiatus. It’s wonderful to see golf courses having record seasons and the industry as a whole flourishing to new heights. The NGF also suggests that junior golf had its largest gain since the “Tiger Effect” in 1997 after his masters victory.
Another thing I am excited about is trend in technology in golf instruction. There are so many new and innovative solutions for instructors like myself to use with students. Everything from better coaching platforms for us to communicate with students, to mobile phone apps that help us measure the biomechanics of a golfers swing. I’m sure with the PGA show coming up shortly, other companies will be releasing new products and technology to make it more efficient for instructors to help golfers of all ages and abilities. I’m excited to see what’s in the “works” for the coming year.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
I do not specialize in any one area. I consider myself a total game teacher, which means I teach all aspects of the game.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
What sets me apart as a teacher is my upbeat and easygoing personality, ability to communicate well with all levels of golfers, a coaching system that allows me to help everyone from beginners to tour professionals, and a real desire to help each golfer I work with. These attributes allow me to personalize each learning experience and help each individual succeed and reach their goals.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
There are a few exciting things on the horizon for me professionally. Recently I was nominated for both NFPGA Teacher of the Year(WCC) and Golf Digest Best Teachers in the State of Florida . So hopefully by years end I will out if I received any or both of those accolades. Also, I have been working with a technology company on some innovative instructional tools, so hopefully that will be released after the new year.
Is there a highlight from your career in golf that stands out above the rest?
The highlight from my career in golf that stands out was my time as an “assistant” at the Jim McLean Golf School in Miami. This educational experience definitely shaped my career as a teaching professional. I worked for a total of 18 months as an assistant teaching professional, As an assistant at the golf school, I was able to train under and shadow some of the game’s most prominent coaches from around the world. Not to mention, I was also able to personally assist Jim McLean in numerous private lessons, multi-day golf schools, and with the editing process of his “Building Block Approach” DVD series. Jim was an incredible mentor and encouraged me to break out of my shell and think outside of the box. Being an assistant at the Jim McLean Golf School not only provided me with a strong teaching foundation, but also helped shape me into a well-rounded professional.
Any advice for someone considering pursuing a career as a golf teaching professional?
I think anyone who wishes to become a teaching professional should find the best instructors in their area and go watch them teach for the day. Observe how he or she interacts with the students, how he or she diagnoses and fixes the issues, how he or she integrates technology and/or training aids into the learning process, and how he/or she conclude the lessons. These facets are all invaluable and are vital to becoming a great teacher and coach.
Another important component when pursuing a career as a teaching professional is to find a great mentor. Having someone that you can go to for advice or with any questions is important in helping you develop as a professional and as a teacher.