Todd Fowler - Golf Galaxy
I’ve been teaching at Golf Galaxy in Davenport, Iowa for the past 16 months after 27 years at the golf course/club level. Golf Galaxy is a golf shop owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods and provides full service to athletes looking for equipment, apparel and accessories for game as well as repair services, fitting services and instruction. We use indoor hitting bays with either Foresight or Trackman simulators and other available technologies.
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
I started playing at about 6 and played in my first 9 hole tournament when I was 9. My father was a Hall of Fame high school golf coach so it was pretty natural for us to spend lots of time at the course growing up. I also played baseball, basketball and hockey and believe that those experiences made me a better golfer. After a prep and college career, I had hoped to continue playing but needed to improve significantly to do that so I started working as an assistant pro and eventually switched my goals to being a successful PGA Golf Professional at the course or club level.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
I play in several Iowa PGA events every season and like to ‘hang out’ with other teaching professionals to pick their brains. It’s always important to attend any teaching clinics or seminars available but I’m also very in touch with classic teachings from the past that established the fundamental foundations of the swings we use today. Other sports’ coaches and teachers are also excellent resources as they open up different perspectives and ideas that can be used to help golfers. Many of our students focused on another sport in their youth and it’s very easy to communicate with them if you are familiar with a common approach.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
I’m actually more concerned about a couple of things. Distance is one for many reasons. It seems to me that pros that have gotten really muscular are getting injured frequently. I also am concerned that many amateur players are more concerned with length than technique, fundamentals and game management. I’m also very concerned that in the race to get greens faster and faster, that we’re losing great hole locations on our greens and changing the strategy of golf.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
I may stand out a little bit when it comes to putting a golf game together for a player with the strengths and weaknesses they have. Some people consider this game management but it involves more than just deciding whether to go for it or lay up. I like to break down all of the small details so a player can have confidence in what they are doing and if the weaker parts of their game can get stronger, then the game plan can get even better.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
To say I could ever set myself apart from anyone in a profession of absolute experts sounds outright silly to me. We all have areas of higher focus and strength and it’s so important to facilities and players to find the right person for the job required. If a golfer was looking for an instructor that wanted to take the things they are strong at and build on them, then I’m a good match to be your instructor. I also love to ‘coach’ players more than worry on technique perfection. I try really hard to share my experience as a 43 year competitive golfer to help them score better as well as strike the ball better.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
It’s just very exciting for me to be playing and competing more again. I went through an 8 year stretch where I hardly played at all and that doesn’t work for me. I love the game and the more and better I play gets me more excited and passionate to help others play well. This was one of my best seasons yet at 52 years old and am just getting better!
What has been your most challenging experience with a student and how did you handle it? How did you overcome it?
One particular incident doesn’t come to mind but it can be frustrating for athletes to hear the truth about how they play or what they need to do to get better. It’s an honest conversation that always needs to be had and sometimes it means that a student and a teacher may not be a good partnership. That is okay and if I truly care about them getting better, the best thing may be to help a player find another coach or another coach for a certain part of the game (i.e. putting, short game etc.).
Do you actively play competitive golf? Any recent bragworthy performances you’d like to share?
I sure do!! I strongly believe that what separates us from other customer service industries is our ability to play, ability to teach and our knowledge of the rules of golf/tournament operations. If we do not cover these areas with some competence then our employers could find cheaper employees to be nice and helpful. The last two seasons I’ve played quite a bit and continue to improve both my scores and finishes in Iowa PGA and other events. I was an alternate for PGA Senior Club Pro Championship this year and have that and even higher goals for 2021!!
Is there a highlight from your career in golf that stands out above the rest?
Winning the 2015 Iowa PGA Professional of the Year Award. It’s our highest honor and the things we (I consider this award was won by my entire shop and course staff) did in tough situation was quite an accomplishment. I have been blessed to work with or for or be around a lot of well known and recognized people in golf and I hope winning POY made them proud and showed them how much I appreciated and learned from them.