Justin Doyle - Woodbridge Golf and Country Club
Justin is the current Director of Golf Instruction at Woodbridge. In this role, he oversees the entirety of the Golf Academy operation at the Club, including all Junior and Adult player development programs. On a daily basis, he conducts private lessons, club fittings, Golf Academy classes, and oversees Golf Academy staff.
Justin came to Woodbridge and began the Academy in 2018 after serving as an Assistant Director/Lead Instructor for the Southern California Golf Association Junior Golf Foundation and has been coaching Golf professionally for 14 years. Currently, Justin is ranked as a Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional by the GRAA. In his career, he’s had the opportunity to work closely with notable Top 100 instructors and performance coaches such as Rick Smith, Henry Brunton, Dr. Rick Jensen, Dr. Rick Sessinghaus, Dave Phillips, and Dr. Greg Rose.
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
I started playing around 12 years old. I had played all the other typical sports as a kid, but after a Summer Golf Camp at Lake Elizabeth Golf Course in the Antelope Valley when I was young I became hooked and eventually narrowed down to Golf full time by high school.
When I was 19 and struggling to find a career path or a major I could stick with in college, I got a great piece of advice from my Dad who said to find something you enjoy doing and find a way to make money at it. I then became aware that there were actual career paths available in Golf and I was fortunate to find the Professional Golf Management program at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, CA. The instructor of the program Tony Manzoni was also the College Golf coach and an established Teaching Professional. Watching him work with players both at the competitive collegiate level as well as the recreational level player seemed like a great way to spend your work day. I became tunnel visioned from there to figure out how to make that happen as a career and haven’t looked back since.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
Being connected with like-minded professionals is key. I’ve been fortunate to be part of Proponent Group which is a network of elite level Teaching Professionals/Director’s of Instruction and the information shared I feel keeps me ahead of the curve of what’s going on in the industry.
Staying connected to good players and talking with them is critical as well. Hearing what good players are working on and who they’re listening to can open up new avenues for myself to tap in to.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
Playing statistics- The ability for the recreational player to track and understand their statistics is vital for figuring out their road map to lower scores. Often when I am consulting with a player who perhaps has had a poor round or a stretch of poor rounds, they can’t identify why. Recommending a statistic tracking app helps both player/coach to be more efficient on what they need to focus in on to shoot lower scores.
Golf Fitness- What was once a radical way out there concept is now common. With the proliferation of enhancing physical capability on the PGA tour and the distances they’re starting to hit the ball, it’s much easier to communicate to the recreational player the importance of incorporating fitness into their improvement program. Many private clubs have already built or are in the process of converting space to utilize for fitness, giving the coaching staff the opportunity to lead players through this part of their improvement program.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
I’m definitely a beginner specialist. Many Golf instructors I see try to tailor their brand to speak to the low handicap or potential professional player in hopes to landing that big name that will make them famous. However, the majority of the Golfing public doesn’t fall into this category, wants to play better Golf, and has completely different needs than a professional does. Beginners I feel have been often taken for granted, being told to take a 5 class get golf ready program doesn’t really prepare them to be comfortable on the course. They too need robust coaching options where the coach guides them for the first year or two of playing, helping create a Golfer for life whose likelihood of dropping from the game is significantly lower.
While I coach all levels of players including low-mid handicap and competitive Collegiate players, helping new Golfers become successful is a true passion of mine.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
The initial evaluation- I’m a believer that if you don’t assess, it’s just a guess.
When a new player comes to see me, there is no instruction in their first visit. We spend 90 minutes together to evaluate their current game, determine their goals, and then put a game plan together that would be appropriate to help them meet that goal.
The evaluation includes an interview, Trackman analysis, TPI movement screen, and time on the Golf course watching them play. This gives me a far better understanding of what’s really going on, and often times the answer the player is looking for can be found somewhere they weren’t even looking.
While this approach requires more long-term consideration from the player, the results from players who engage in the evaluation and into longer term coaching programs are considerably better than those who seek quick fixes.
Any advice for someone considering pursuing a career as a golf teaching professional?
I feel it’s the most fun job in Golf. Being focused on teaching and player development also gives you unique value to Golf facilities because when people play better Golf they play more of it, and almost every facility wants that.
There’s more opportunities now than ever before to be able to break into teaching right away early in your career as I was able to do 15 years ago. Identify who the best teachers are in your geographical area and ask to shadow some lessons. Soak in as much as you can early on from elite level instructors and find a way start giving your own lessons as early as possible. It’s going to take a lot of trial and error with all different levels of Golfers to help form your systems to create results.
Results are the key. Players don’t care about your knowledge, certifications, technology, etc. They only care about whether you can understand what they need and produce desired results for them. Find out how to do this and you will be sought after.