Matthew McPhillips - Pinehaven Country Club
Hello, My name is Matthew McPhillips and I am the PGA Director of Instruction/Assistant Professional at Pinehaven Country Club in Guilderland, New York. This is my fourth season at Pinehaven, and 1st in the role of Director of Instruction. I moved to the United States full time in 2009. I was raised in Australia, Belgium and Germany. I am a left-hander, and can play right handed as well. I am a dual-citizen (Australian-American) and spent 6 years as the Head Golf Professional at Stratton Mountain Resort Golf Club (2011-2016).
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
I got started in golf by my Dad at the age of 5. My Dad, Justin, is also a lefty, and a 6 handicap. He would take me to the driving range to watch him hit balls, and toward the end of his range session I would get about 20 balls to hit. I would try really hard to make every shot count, knowing that I only had so many! Looking back, Dad certainly knew how to get me hooked on the game at an early age! I know that my Dad had wanted to be a golf professional as a younger man, which in turn inspired me to want to do the same. I am proud to say that I have been a Class A PGA Member since January 2019.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
I subscribe to a lot of the great golf instructors via social media as well as taking in as much golf literature as I can get my hands on. I am a believer that there aren’t any bad swing ideologies out there- some are just more specific to certain golf swings. When it is safe again to do so, I intend to try and contact a leading Teaching Professional or two and try to set up a day where I shadow them on the practice tee.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
I am very excited about the development on junior golf! Knowing that there is a high demand for junior golf instruction re-assures me that we are heading in the right direction. I am also excited about the advancements in launch monitor technology. I have recently invested in a Flightscope Mevo, which is perfect for lessons and playing lessons.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
I give a lot of bunker lessons. I was taught at an early age that there are many ways to get out of a bunker, but finding the way that works best for the golfer in question usually helps present the solution. Simplicity over mental pollution with bunkers, for sure.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
I would like to think my inter-personal skills are my strength. I enjoy the challenge of teaching with all skill levels, and I love to adjust my teaching style to fit the learning style of the student. I like to keep the mood light and not overly-complex, which helps me keep my teaching philosophy consistent.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
My wife Katie and I bought our first house last summer, and we are gradually making our way through the house to update some things and install other new things. It’s very exciting and we are learning a lot about being homeowners.
What has been your most challenging experience with a student and how did you handle it? How did you overcome it?
The most challenging experiences are with students who have lofty expectations and think that all can be fixed in one lesson. I feel like significant progress can be made in one lesson, but one has to be willing to put in some time to develop extra familiarity with their swing and whatever changes are being made. I like to set short, mid and long term goals with these students to help establish a measurable timeline.
Do you actively play competitive golf? Any recent bragworthy performances you’d like to share?
I play competitive golf in my local PGA Section. I don’t know if it’s bragworthy, but I came up against the (far and away) best player in our section in the semi-finals of the Assistant’s Match Play Championship this past summer. I played about as well as I could play and had the match square coming down 18. A reachable par 5 with water surrounding the green was left to decide the match. I hit a driver and a 6 iron to 35 feet. My opponent hit a Driver and a 5 iron out of the right rough to about 30 feet. My eagle putt lipped out, and he made his eagle putt to win 1 up. I learned a lot that day- I can compete with the players in my section- but I also need to take a dose of my own medicine and practice more!
Any advice for someone considering pursuing a career as a golf teaching professional?
Take into account the amount of time it takes out of your personal life. Weekends off are a thing of the past. Customer service and tournament operations are a lot of work, but the results are rewarding. It takes a lot, but you also get a lot out of it!