Ian Grant - Oak Brook Golf Club
Oak Brook GC is a very playable public course in Oak Brook, Illinois with some very challenging green complexes. It is best known for contributing 9 holes to the PGA Tour Western Open in 1985 when adjacent Butler National was partially flooded
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
I started as a young child in Montrose Scotland, playing with my father on the fifth oldest course in the world, now Royal Montrose Golf Links. It dates back to 1562! Despite being good at golf (2 handicap) I was better at other sports so gave up the game other than social golf for about 20 years. After a mid life crisis, I left my career in corporate finance, I was the Scottish equivalent of a CPA, and started work in the golf industry. It made sense to become a PGA member so I went through the GPTP program at the time and was elected to membership in 1997. After working at Medinah Country Club, I decided that I really want to teach full time and started work as an independent contractor at Oak Brook Golf Club in 2002.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
Other than reading a lot and watching instruction videos, I work with a good club fitter who has access to all the modern technology such as Trackman. I use a Skytrak device myself while teaching indoors in the winter and am familiar with and use Blast golf motion trainers. Thankfully, most of the basics have not changed, just the way we teach to improve problem areas.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
The major trend is the massive increase in interest in the game due to the COVID virus. I have taught so many newcomers and returners in the past season, it is hard to count them all.
A secondary trend is the increase in players seeking the correct fit for their clubs, and I hope that continues.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
I consider myself an all round teacher and can contribute not only in technical areas but also in mental and physical development, although I do refer more advanced students to people who have more expertise in these areas.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
Being The Scottish PGA Guy, I contribute a different slant to my teaching. Growing up in Scotland and being familiar with Links courses, there are a number of different types of shots that I can teach that can be used over here now, given the growth in links style courses. My business background also helps me relate to a number of my “office bound” students.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
I have two junior students that are nationally ranked and one on the rise. Being able to help these high ability individuals get to and conquer the next level will be my priority for the next four years. They are aged 12-13 years old and are already dedicated players. One is ranked in the top 150 of AJGA rankings and continues to improve with every event, but the most pressing need is getting another ready for the national Drive, Chip and Putt competition at Augusta National next season.
What has been your most challenging experience with a student and how did you handle it? How did you overcome it?
Working with a physically challenged young man who was barely able to push the ball a few feet when we started. Over the course of two years, we were able to get him to swing the club and get most shots airborne. It was a slow but steady process working with a correct grip and moving the club more every lesson. His parents moved and I hope he is continuing to progress.
Do you actively play competitive golf? Any recent bragworthy performances you’d like to share?
Teaching takes up too much of my time to permit adequate practice but I still play for fun.
Is there a highlight from your career in golf that stands out above the rest?
I won a number of junior tournaments on the east coast of Scotland but funnily enough the highlight that stands out is a losing performance. I lost a match 2 and 1 in the Fife County Championship to a player that would subsequently go on to be a tour professional. I played extremely well and was around 4 or 5 under par when we shook hands on the 17th green. It was then I decided that I was a pretty good player but would probably never compete at his level.
Any advice for someone considering pursuing a career as a golf teaching professional?
Read, watch and listen. It is a process, not a destination. Schedule a lesson with a top ranked professional or ask to watch one teach at least once a year. The more knowledge you have the better. Never stop learning.
Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
Enjoy the game, it is a great friend and a fearsome enemy, but at the end, it is you against a patch of land.
Fairways and greens,