Michele Trimarche - Northern California
The Santa Lucia Preserve is located on 20,000 acres of stunning coastal California landscapes, just a few miles inland from Carmel-by-the-Sea. The community of 297 homes and homesites is a refuge from modern day life with a state-of-the-art Equestrian Center, a Tom Fazio designed golf course, and a unique convergence of a laid-back ranch lifestyle coupled with an expansive natural world at your doorstep.
The Preserve Golf Club features a top 100 Tom Fazio designed golf course spanning 365 acres, which blends effortlessly into its stunning surroundings and is frequently described as a “dream course” where “every hole rolls naturally and beautifully with the contour of the land.” The design and execution of the golf course is indicative of the homage paid to the land, like everything else that exists here.
The Preserve is where you come to disconnect in order to reconnect. There is no better place to enjoy California at its best. It’s always hiking season on The Preserve with nearly 100-miles of trails to explore California’s rich coastal landscapes through multiple microclimates on foot or horseback. The member-owned community is situated on a 20,000 acre preserve with two private clubs featuring equestrian, golf and outdoor recreational activities, offering ample opportunities for members to play year-round.
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
From age 3-16 I was an elite gymnast. I competed in the Junior Olympics where I placed runner-up qualifying me to train for the Olympics. However, that year’s boycott ended my journey as a gymnast. As one could imagine I was devastated and disappointed. I then started playing a multitude of sports including softball which I excelled in. I was selected to participate on the All-Star Team that represented Florida. We ended up winning the World tournament. I was recognized and awarded for achieving the highest batting average during the world tournament. Due to my petite stature and being left-handed, opponents often assumed I could not hit very far. However, I was able to direct the softball anywhere the coach signaled. As lead-off batter, nobody knew where I was going to hit the ball next.
After my senior year of high school my Grandpa suggested I play golf because softball was a dead end other than a co-ed league. My Grandpa thought because I was a great leadoff batter golf would be perfect for me and a career for the rest of my life. As it turned out, Jack Nicklaus’s daughter was on my softball team. One day my Grandpa spoke with Jack at the game to see where the best place would be for me to start a few golf lessons. Jack suggested at his club, The Loxahatchee Club, in Jupiter FL. I took a few lessons and the professional was so impressed with my talent that he made me enter the local golf tournament. He said to stay out of the water and sand and count every stroke. Unaware of the results, I ended up taking second in the county and received a scholarship to Lynn University. Shortly thereafter I started working in the bag-room at Frenchman’s Creek. Little did I know my journey in golf had begun. After 2 years going to college and working, I decided to turn pro and sign up with the PGA to start the process of becoming a golf professional.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
I stay current with the latest developments and technology by continuously learning from the PGA and LPGA workshops and summits. I regularly attend the PGA Golf Show which has many educational opportunities keeping me current on latest developments in teaching. I like to learn from other top instructors’ methods so when I do get a student trying to fit into that method, I can help them understand more of what they can and can’t do within that method. I believe no one swing fits all, but each person has his or her own perfect golf swing.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
The Impact of COVID-19 on Golf
While no sport is immune to the effects of COVID-19, golf is well-positioned to weather the Pandemic through social distancing norms and the wide range of safety precautions put in place. Couple this with less opportunity for outdoor activities, the pandemic has attracted new participants to the golfing community. Throughout these trying times, golf has experienced increased viewership from the restructured tour schedules and a greater social media presence. Once a vaccine is developed, safety protocols are lifted, and economic conditions improve, the golf industry should be well-positioned to capitalize on the increased demand from new golfers.
Quicker Events and Courses
One of the more noticeable trends in golf is that there is a bigger push to move to short events; playing only 9 holes instead of a full round. More people are being drawn to shorter courses and the opportunity to play less holes because of work and family requirements. This allows golfers to get onto the course quicker, and shorter courses are increasing in popularity. Golfers can expect more 6- and 9-hole courses to complement the traditional golf courses. I feel this will make it more accessible to the everyday golfer and will give the chance for designers to build courses that appeal to broader segments of the population.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
There are as many teaching styles as there are ways to learn the game. My approach starts from the putting green and works back from there. I highlight the special stroke technique involved and guide students through an effective regimen starting with the putter. It is my belief that once the basic pendulum stroke has been mastered, by simply extending that motion and cultivating wrist action, one can begin good chipping technique. Furthermore, using the same feel by way of subtle wrist action and lengthening the swing, fundamentals of pitching come into play. While there are one or two notable adjustments to be made to the set-up, the golfer eventually comes to a full swing. The basic principles underpinning good technique remain the same.
Aside from stroke technique, I also spend significant time maximizing the body, mind, and spiritual connections. While it is very important to incorporate flexibility, strength, balance, and core conditioning into the daily routine; breathing awareness, focus, relaxation, and visualization techniques are equally emphasized in preparation for play. Taking the golfer’s mental and physical attributes to the next level also involve spiritual life lessons. For example, letting go of outcomes, fear of navigating the course, commitment to the shot, and losing responsibility are integral parts on my teachings. All these elements are essential for better golf performance.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
I feel each person should be approached as an individual. Each individual is unique with their own swing issues, expectations, learning styles, and physical limitations. . I focus on customizing each student’s swing to fit his body strengths and desired ball flight. These can vary greatly from one person to another. In setting me apart, most students would say that I care and want to see each individual reach their truest potential. I always believed that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Being left-handed, I naturally become a mirror to the students which makes it easier for them to visualize the correct movements by following me along step by step.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
For me personally, I look forward to playing more golf and competing. Getting out and enjoying the course is something I never really had time do throughout my teaching career. Reflecting on my coaching career, I feel it has made me a better player. Knowing the golf swing inside and out plus my keen awareness of the mental side of golf have definitely improved my entire game.
As a golf professional, I plan to continue my daily focus on teaching and making a difference in people’s lives. Earning recognition as a Master Professional is on the horizon and would complete my journey as a golf professional.
What has been your most challenging experience with a student and how did you handle it? How did you overcome it?
My first week on the job I had a student who had taken lessons for two hours every Friday with the previous instructor. This gentleman then booked me every Friday once I came on board. My first Friday he wanted a playing lesson. His first few shots caught my attention as he took really deep divots. The expression on my face was how can anyone that took that many lessons still have a really steep swing producing that deep of a divot? He looked at me and said, “Aren’t you going to replace my divots? that’s what I am paying you for.” I asked if he was kidding. He said, “No,” and proceeded to throw the divot at my chest. The dirt hit me all over, but did not elicit a response. I then continued the lesson and later told my boss. He said that’s what they are paying you for. I handled the situation with grace and came to the conclusion that people come to us for different reasons and sometimes it has nothing to do with their golf swing it becomes a therapy session. In the end we don’t really teach golf we teach people.
Do you actively play competitive golf? Any recent bragworthy performances you’d like to share?
I normally do not play competitively, but had the opportunity play in the men’s interclub league as the representing professional for our club. I needed to get permission from the tournament committee to play because I was the only female playing in the men’s interclub. We traveled from course to course around our region and I was able to win my matches, contributing to our overall team score. I also recently played in the PGA section match play event, also the only female competing against the male professionals. I was able to advance to the quarterfinals, falling just shy of the semi’s due to highly competitive play.
Is there a highlight from your career in golf that stands out above the rest?
My career has been a series of highlights earning recognition from a variety of sources throughout. Early on I was an initial member of the new facility launch team at Faldo Golf Institute by JW Marriott, member of the brand development team, and opened up two Faldo Golf Institutes as Director of Instruction. While there I earned the JW Marriott Leadership Award for achieving the highest guest satisfaction rate nationwide and the Crystal Achievement Award for nationwide public relations excellence.
As a golf instructor, I was recognized by the New Jersey PGA for the highest volume of instruction in the Northeast. In addition, I was awarded as one of the Top 50 Teachers in the Country by Golf for Women’s Magazine, a Top 100 Teacher in the Northeast by Golf Magazine, and a Top 50 Teacher by US Kids.
Any advice for someone considering pursuing a career as a golf teaching professional?
Do you work well with others? Good communication skills are a must with this career path. It’s important to put complicated concepts into terms that a struggling beginner will be able to easily understand. If you love what you are doing you will never work a day in your life. It definitely pertains to being a teaching professional.
Once the decision is made it is important to take advantage of any special training, course work, camps and receive instruction from seasoned golf professionals. Working at well-known clubs that train their staff to move onward and upward as well as networking is an added bonus. My motivation and interest came by learning from the top professionals in the world. Nick Faldo and Jim McLean were instrumental in jump starting my teaching career. Working in the golf schools and side-by-side with the best professionals in the world has provided a level of teaching expertise I never could have imagined.
Teaching is a process of becoming that continues throughout life, never completely achieved, never completely denied.
This is the challenge and the fun of being a teacher—there is no ultimate end to the process.
Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
I have been fortunate to put into practice the many life lessons that I have learned. I try to be a reflection for others to learn and ideals to live by. Here are a few of the mantras and principles that resonate with me:
• Enjoy your journey. Golf and life are not destinations, but rather never-ending journeys. As such, you soon discover that you can never fail, but simply get back on track; in alignment so to speak.
• Live in the moment by finding things to be grateful for. Doing this has the added benefit of quieting our mind chatter, allowing the body to naturally perform better.
• Believe in yourself! Whatever you believe is right. If you believe you can win, you will. If you believe you can’t win or hit a certain shot, you won’t. Play golf from the inside out.
• Find a golf coach or swing instructor who you can trust and believes in you and stick with them.