Heath Henrich - Troon Santa Maria Golf Club
Santa Maria is an 18 hole Jack Nicklaus design that sits next to the Pacific Ocean but does not possess any ocean views. The golf course opened in 2011. The front 9 was first and then the back 9 opened in 2014. We are a Troon managed facility. Santa Maria is a private facility with a Marriot brand hotel attached. The golf course is only availble to our membership, their invited guests, and hotel guests. Santa Maria is located less than 10 minutes from the PTY airport which makes it a great golf destination for travelers.
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
I was 5 years old when I started playing golf. My father and brother were already playing. My mother did not play but she saw that I wanted to play and started taking me to the golf course on her own. Eventually golf was a family sport for us. During the summer my brother, Seth Henrich-also a PGA Director of Golf, worked at a small country club. That country club was looking for more help and my brother asked if I could work there. They said of course and I started my journey into the golf industry from there. The first PGA Professional I worked for was Jim Henry. He was great to work for and is still considered a family friend.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
To keep current with the latest developments in teaching is fairly easy nowadays. Everyone wants to be an instagram or youtube star. They publish anything and everything. Personally, I would and do keep some of my secrets private because I want people to take classes with me instead of turning to you tube or instagram to fix their swing flaws. Also, I chat with fellow Golf Professionals and network with them as much as possible.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
Fitness and seeing how you can over power a golf course if you have that ability. The US OPEN with Bryson Dechambeau has proven that. Fitness is great because most of the golfers, men and women, that the junior golfers see are mainly flat bellies. We promote fitness a lot in our Jr Golf Programs.
The other golf trend is seeing that golf swings are more individual now. There was a time when there was a molded golf swing that this one golf swing only works. False. Jim Furyk, Lee Trevino, Matt Wolff, Bryson all have unique swings and all work. This I like to see.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
I like to think my specialty is the short game but I really like to teach all facets of the game.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
This is an interesting question. What sets me apart from other golf pros is that I am Heath Henrich and maintain my own ideals on a daily basis. I try not to mimmick other golf pros and their style of teachings.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Personally, I have been fortunate enough to be put in a position to adopt a newborn baby boy. Hagen Palmer Henrich was born Sept 10, 2020. He is the best thing to happen to me. In the short time that he has been living, Hagen has changed my mind professionally and personally. Golf and members used to come first, now, the little guy is put in front of everything. It has been tough being a single father and working in an industry where the average work day is 10-14 hours long. Luckily, I have good owners that completely understand the situation and allow me to spend extra time with Hagen.
What has been your most challenging experience with a student and how did you handle it? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenges are helicopter parents. I appreciate that the dads and moms want to be involved in every aspect of their child´s life but there is a time that the child needs to grow and breathe for themselves. How I deal with helicopter parents is that I involve them in holding my phone or camera and they are the ones videoing their children. This actually keeps them quiet during lessons because they want to concentrate on getting the best video of their children.
Do you actively play competitive golf? Any recent bragworthy performances you’d like to share?
My competitive golf stopped a long time ago. I do enjoy playing golf with my junior golfers and members but tournament golf has stopped completely. I used to always put the golf club and it´s members before myself. By that I mean, if they wanted a class at any time or any day, I would do it.
Is there a highlight from your career in golf that stands out above the rest?
There are 2 things that I will never forget.
1) When I worked in Puntacana, Domincan Republic, I started a golf in school program where I would take golf every Monday into 3 different schools and that was their PE activity. I was teaching at 3 different schools and had 30-40 kids per class that I taught. 90-120 under privileged kids. The poorest of the poor. Most people hate going to work on Mondays, with this program, I relished Mondays. This program blossomed into an idea to bring these kids to the golf course. If they had a GPA of 3.0 or above, I would bring them to the golf course, give them 1.5 hour clinic and then grill hot dogs and hamburgers for them. It was great. At the beginning there were 13 kids with 3.0 GPAs or higher. At the time I left Puntacana there 58 kids coming to the golf course because of the rise in GPA. That is amazing.
2) After Hurricanes pass, it is amazing to see the communities come together to reopen their businesses. I have seen my fair share of hurricanes and I really don´t want to be involved in any more but the pride people have in helping their neighbors is something that I will never forget.
Any advice for someone considering pursuing a career as a golf teaching professional?
I hate when people say that ¨anyone can teach golf¨. That makes my blood boil. If you want to become a golf teacher, get certifications from US KIDS, TPI, or whatever your alley is. Go through the PGA program. Invest in yourself. Purchase Trackman, KVest, Capto, Flight Scope, indoor simulators, training tools, etc. Nothing worse than seeing a teaching pro not prepared for everything.