Dean Alexander - Georgia Golf Center
I am semi-retired after being an assistant or head professional for 45 years. I oversee the golf shop at the Georgia Golf Center, a perennial Top 100 Range in the US. We have 15 cover tees and 35 open tees, a 6000 square foot Tift Eagle putting green, grass chipping, pitching and bunker practice areas and two teaching bays with Swing Pro and Trackman in each. The facility is owned by two long time PGA professionals who do the majority of the teaching and club fitting. I am involved with teaching and club fitting and do a lot of club repair. We are a regional fitting center for Ping and also have fitting carts with Cobra, Taylor Made, Mizuno, Callaway and Titleist.
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
My dad started me when I was 6, I’d pull his pull cart around our 9 hole course in central Indiana and hit some balls. I was very active in junior golf and played successfully in high school. I graduated from Georgia Southern and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, there was an assistant position open at the private club in Statesboro, GA so I thought I’d see what that entailed. After a year there I got an opportunity to move to West Lake C.C. in Augusta, GA and learn from one of the best merchandisers in the business, Mark Darnell. After 2 1/2 years there I moved to Chicago to work at Spiroplaus University at Olympia Fields. I’ve never looked back and really never regretted the decision.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
Even though I’m 68 I still want to learn and I think the most important thing is I have an open mind–I’ve got some pretty strong feelings about the golf swing and how it should be taught but I don’t shut other ideas out. I’ve learned a lot from Chris Asbell and Danny Elkins at the GA Golf Center. Chris has gotten interested in biomechanics, went to a seminar with Dr. Kwon and then a day with him in Dallas. He’s shared a lot of what he learned. I’ve learned a lot about Trackman and it’s importance in teaching and club fitting–I’d never had the opportunity to use it in the past. I’ve also learned a lot from Rotaryswing.com–their lead instructor has become a close friend and I bounce a lot of ideas off of him.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
First and most important–as bad as the Corona virus has been for the country it has sure given our game a huge shot in the arm. The business we’ve seen at the Golf Center has been off the charts. A lot more “new” folks visiting us, a lot more lessons and increased club fitting business. We’ve seen the same thing at local clubs/courses.
Second–the talent and level of play on all the major tours. My only concern is how far they all are hitting the ball and how little benefit there is to hitting fairways.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
I really enjoy teaching the short game. It’s a shame most people don’t really care about it–I guess because it’s not glamorous and not as much fun as hitting drivers. So many people struggle with chipping and pitching because they don’t know what clubs to use and most make too big of a swing.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
1. I have never been afraid to learn, ask questions, pick others brains. I’ve visited the old Golf Digest Schools and other prominent teachers to watch and learn. I took what I’ve learned from the best and created my way of doing things.
2. I’m patient and try to keep things simple.
3. I taught rules of golf workshops for the PGA/USGA for 15 years and learned a lot about being a better listener and communicator.
4. I’ve been fortunate enough to teach some very successful players and share with current students what those players have done to improve.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Personally I’ve got a 4 year old grandson that I can’t wait to start seeing him wanting to play golf, we’ve also got another grandson on the way in March 2021.
Professionally i’m working with LPGA player Peiyun Chien and will be caddying for her in the KPMG PGA championship at Aronimink in October. I’ve been helping her off and on for 4 years but now I think we’ll be working together on a full time basis. She’s got so much potential and talent but just needs to learn how to manage her game, learn how to score and dedicate herself to becoming the best player she can be.
Is there a highlight from your career in golf that stands out above the rest?
I’ve been really fortunate to have had many highlights.
I was the first head professional at the C.C. of Louisiana and played the opening round there with Jack Nicklaus, 5 days after he won the 1986 Masters.
I taught Charlie Rymer as a Junior, he won the 1984 USGA Jr. , then I taught Tim Jackson from Memphis for 9 years, Tim became the #2 amateur in the country in 1994 and 1995, won the USGA Mid Am in 1994 and 2001. I caddied for Tim in the 1995 Masters–he played with Gary Player and Ian Baker-Finch.
Lastly I was a referee at the 1999 Ryder Cup matches at Brookline where the US came back from a 10-4 deficit. I had the following matches: Tiger Woods/Tom Lehman vs. Sergio Garcia/Jesper Parnevik; Jim Furyk/Mark O’Meara vs. Lee Westwood/Darren Clarke; David Duval/Davis Love vs. Sergio Garcia/Jesper Parnevik and the second match on Sunday–Hal Sutton vs. Darren Clark.