Rob Krajewski Glen Oak Golf Club
I have been working in the golf industry since I was 16 years old and have been a Professional since 2006. After college I chased the dream of playing, only to end up like many other aspiring playing professionals. Once my playing career ended I started working towards my PGA membership, which I earned in 2017. My passion in this game, other than playing, is to help others get the most out of their game. With the hopes of letting them experience the joys of golf like I have been able to. I have been in my position at Glen Oak for 2 seasons thoroughly enjoy what I do. Glen Oak Golf Club is located 25 minutes from downtown Buffalo, New York. It is a Robert Trent Jones designed golf course, that offers a test for players of all abilities.
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
My career in golf starter when I was 4 years old. My Grandma would take me to either putt-putt or the driving range after pre-school. I always wanted to be doing something with sports. I got my first set of clubs when I was 8 years old and continued to play casually until I was about 12. This is when I decided that I had wanted to try out for the high school team as an 8th grader. Knowing that I needed some guidance, I started taking lessons. I never turned back from then on.
I was playing both baseball and golf throughout high school, but I knew golf was the sport that I wanted to pursue after high school. I played for Canisius College (small D1 school in Buffalo, NY) for 4 years while majoring in Physical Education and Health. This was a fall back plan in case golf did not work out. Growing up around golf, I knew that I wanted to do something related to the game throughout my life. I helped out with some junior clinics at a driving range I worked at when I was younger and that’s where I was first introduced to teaching.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
The game of golf is always evolving. Coaches need to evolve with the game. The PGA Teaching and Coaching summit held during the PGA show is a great way to stay up to date on new trends in the golf swing. I use the word trend because the game of golf, especially the swing is full of trends. Some trends stick around, where others come and go. Ultimately it comes down to the coaches ability to present the material in a way that is conducive the students improvement. Technology has become such an important part of coaching, that if you aren’t using it, you’re losing students to a coach who is.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
Launch monitor technology is always something to get excited about. We are seeing more and more companies developing newer, smaller, more affordable units that players can take with them to the range when they practice. Not everyone can afford a GC Quad (Foresight Sports) or a TrackMan, but companies like FlightScope and offering high end units at a much more affordable prices. Rapsodo is a newer company that is quickly growing in popularity. If you are truly dedicated to improving your game, you need a way to measure your progress. Why guess, when you can measure?
Secondly, golf fitness and how it can improve you game is something that just recently I’ve really started to get into. I was able to go through the Titleist Performance Institutes certification program and the information provided is amazing. As an instructor, it is important to know your students physical capabilities and how that can impact their ability to swing a club. If a player wants to swing like a certain tour pro, then they better have the same physical capabilities of that pro. I am in the corner though, that as golfers we need to be careful about how we train and why we train. Unless you are a tour pro who is spending all their time on their game, we need to be sure that we train our bodies properly to perform at our own peak potential. If we over train we are running the risk of potentially doing more harm to our game than good. I am most interested to see how a certain tour pros body holds up over the next 3-5 years given the extensive training he has done.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
Right now I cover all aspects of the game in general. I help players with whatever they want to work on. I have a strong interest in short game, especially putting. I always try to spend a little time with a player talking about their putting, even if we are focusing mainly on the full swing. Putting is such a unique aspect of the game in that it really just comes down a players ability to get the ball in the hole. If they can repeat the same motion over and over then method doesn’t really matter. I touch briefly on the actual mechanics of the stroke and set-up, but mainly I focus a lot on the theory of putting and helping a player understand how to make more putts. Understanding how the ball rolls, how much skid they create, reading greens, hitting their target speed, understanding uphill vs downhill (you’d be surprise at how many players get that part wrong) are just a few of the key areas that I go over with players to help them understand what they need to do to make more putts.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
I think my ability to play the game well is something that sets me apart from other professionals. I think the saying goes “Those who teach, can’t do, and those who can do, can’t teach”. My ability to do both builds my credibility as a PGA Professional. If a player is looking to improve their game and they have a choice to pick from an instructor who struggles to break 80 in their own game versus a pro who is able to shoot at or below par, that student will probably pick the latter. Now this may not always be the case. I’ve know players who can shoot really low scores, but if they had to teach someone how to do it they couldn’t. Vice versa, I know guys that know the swing very well, but they are so busy with appointments that they never get a chance to work on their own games, which leads to some inconsistencies on the course. I am going to continue to try to stay on top of both in my career. If I come across a new technique in chipping or another aspect of the game, I would like to see if/how I can implement it in my game.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Glen Oak Golf Club is continuing to grow as a facility. A local PGA Professional purchased the course 3 seasons ago and has very big plans to turn the entire facility into the main golf hub in our Western New York area. Right now we are just a seasonal golf operation, with the clubhouse that operates 12 months for weddings, banquets and other gatherings of the sort. Glen Oak has plans to add onto the existing building a new indoor golf operation that will allow us to operate the golf side 12 months as well. With the addition of indoor simulators and the potential for a player development academy, it is very exciting to be apart of something that Western New York does not currently have.
As for myself, my continued pursuit of playing has earned me a birth into the 2021 PGA Professional Championship at the PGA Golf Club, down in Port St. Lucie, Florida. This will be my second trip to our national championship and if I am able to get/keep my game in shape for April I have the chance of earning a spot in the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. The field is comprised of 312 PGA Professionals from all of the PGA sections across the country. To earn a spot in the PGA Championship I have to finish in the top 20. If all goes to plan, this would be my first PGA Championship.
What has been your most challenging experience with a student and how did you handle it? How did you overcome it?
My most challenging experience with a student is not just with one student, but with multiple. I’m sure I am not the only swing instructor who has run into this student before, but it is the “know it all” student. I don’t mean “know it all” in a bad way, but it is the student who reads every article, watches every YouTube video and knows all the drills and swing faults. When I run into a student like this I will give the cup of tea story…A Man was seeking the true enlightenment and had been to every religious temple around the world and has read every religious document known. He arrives at a Buddhist temple and sits down with a Monk, upon sitting down and speaking with the Monk, the Monk offers the Man a cup of tea. The Man graciously accepts and the Monk begins to fill the cup up, the cup is soon over flowing with tea and the Man stops what he is saying and tells the Monk that the cup is overflowing. At this point the Monk tells the Man that the cup is He and the Tea is what he knows. He must empty his mind to find true enlightenment…I know this story has been portrayed many different ways, but a lot of golfers out there and just like that. They know a lot about the game, but they don’t know how it applies to them. After each lesson I have my students write down three main takeaways or areas of focus for their game. I tell them that these are the only three things to focus on. Once a student is able to hit the refresh button, the game and swing becomes much simpler.
Do you actively play competitive golf? Any recent bragworthy performances you’d like to share?
If you’ve been reading up to this point then you already know this answer. Absolutely do I still play competitively. It’s part of the reason why I became a PGA Professional. My 2020 season was full of up and downs (pun intended). Due to the pandemic we weren’t able to start our competitive schedule until June. Highlights from my season include winning our section championship, along with a couple of other small pro-ams. Scoring average was right around 72 for the season. Unfortunately I was just beaten out for Player of the Year over the last couple events. An untimely funk kicked in for the last couple events that cost me the title. That is just more motivation to kick my game up another level next season!
Is there a highlight from your career in golf that stands out above the rest?
It is hard to put the spotlight on just one highlight. I’ve been lucky enough to compete in multiple national championships as a PGA Professional (1 PGA Professional Championship and 4 National Assistant Championships) to date. I’ve won a number of different events over the years and have enjoyed competing with some of our nations best. It hasn’t happened yet, but if/when it does, having the chance to compete in the PGA Championship would definitely be the career highlight. It would be a great experience and very fun to watch and see how good the best players in the world truly are.
Any advice for someone considering pursuing a career as a golf teaching professional?
With the game of golf experiencing a growth spurt right now, lots of players are looking to improve their games. If you’re looking to get into teaching the game of golf, surround yourself by those that you admire in that position. Take whatever opportunity you can and learn as much as you can about whatever you can. Become a PGA Professional, having that PGA associated with your name will let potential students know that you are one of the leading experts in the game. Read books, watch videos take lessons yourself, anything you can do that will help you develop your own style of coaching build your library of information. No two students swing alike and one student may find success using a different swing model than an other. If you have the ability to coach both of those students then that is going to make you that much more valuable as a coach.
Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. It is only a brief introduction, but my passion for the game of golf grows everyday. I want to be able to help players enjoy this game as much as I do and possibly get to experience some of the great stories this game has to offer. All players have the ability to be the best that they want to be. It all comes down to how much work they are willing to put into it. The more you put into your game, the more you are going to get out of it. If you are not willing to put the work in, they why expect to get a lot out of it? This game doesn’t need to be confusing or difficult, find an instructor that you get along with and you understand what they are saying. Just because an instructor is using complex words and sounds like good information, if it is not making sense to you, then it may be time to find a new instructor. Do what’s best for your game. Only you know what’s best, so get out there and go make some birdies!