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Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

Interview with PGA Professional Scott Shapin

Scott Shapin is a PGA professional at Tucson Country Club and is also one of a select few golf professionals in Tucson certified by the Titleist Performance Institute.  Scott was gracious enough to do an interview for us around his busy teaching schedule.  As fitness instructors, it is always valuable to share ideas with fellow TPI professionals who spend much of their time on the lesson tee.  For more information about Scott and his teaching programs please visit www.scottshapin.com.

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Scott, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.  We all know January is a busy time for golf pros in Arizona!  How did you get into the golf business?  

I learned to play golf at the age of 10 and fell in love with the game.   I wanted to be around it all the time.  My first job in golf was at the local driving range picking up balls, only I wasn’t the lucky guy driving the range cart that everyone likes to hit.  I was the kid that showed up at 6am in the morning, rolled under the locked fence and handpicked the areas of the range the range picker couldn’t reach.  In return, I was allowed to hit balls for free.  I did this for a summer and then decided to move up to caddying and outside services at a country club.  The benefits were much better, free golf!  I knew I wanted to be around golf for the rest of my life so I chose to go to Penn State which offered the Professional Golf Management Program.   I started my professional career at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  I worked there for five years.  In the fall of 2009 I moved out to Arizona and got a job at Tucson Country Club 

You currently work for one of the best professionals in the country, Michael Haywood, PGA and have worked for other respected pros in the past.  Tell us about your mentors and a few things you have learned from them.

I have had the opportunity to work for some of the finest PGA Professionals in the country and learned something from all of them.  I spent most of my time working for Bob Dolan at Columbia Country Club in Maryland, he taught me most of what I know about the golf business.  However, the one thing he always stressed was never forget why you got in to the business and that was because you love golf.  There are so many professionals/ management companies out there that don’t consider playing the game an important aspect of the business.  I find this especially important as a teacher.  It makes it easier to relate experiences to your students.  I would find it very difficult to take lessons from someone who never plays or can’t break 80.

What do you emphasize in your teaching?

The foundation of a good golf swing starts with three elements before the swing even takes place:  Grip, Aim, and Posture.  If these items are fundamentally sound it gives the student’s body the best opportunity to work properly throughout the golf swing.  The two keys I focus on during the swing are shaft plane and the squareness of the clubface at impact; as both influence the ball’s flight.

I often tell players that getting more fit helps their instructor help them.  From the perspective of a teaching professional on the practice tee, why should players commit to fitness?

Fitness is very important for several reasons.  First there is stamina; I always ask students how they are playing and how their scores break down.  A lot of times I find players play better on the front nine than the back nine, the reason for this is they get tired towards the end of the round and the swing breaks down.  It is important that the player can still make the same swing on 18 as they did on number 1.  Second there is power.  Everyone wants to hit the ball further.  Working on the swing to make it more efficient will helps only takes it so far.  If a player commits to fitness they can easily add distance.  Speed in the player’s downswing is generated from the transfer of energy through the body.  The two most important muscle groups that are used in the swing are the glutes and abdominals.  If a player can strengthen these areas it makes it easier to control the body’s movements and add speed.  

Can you talk about how the TPI screening methodology helps you as an instructor.

The TPI screening process allows me to figure out which parts of the body work better than others.  Without screening a person you could be asking them to try and achieve positions in their golf swing that their body will not allow them to reach.  Ultimately the student gets frustrated because they are trying to do something that they physically cannot do at this point. 

What is SNAG Golf and how does it help with junior development?

SNAG stands for Starting New at Golf.  It is a great way to teach golf to beginners, not just juniors.  The clubs are oversized and players hit velcro tennis balls.  The equipment is color coded which makes it easy to learn.   The SNAG program provides a structured learning environment.  My favorite thing about SNAG is it is so easy to experience success.  Golf can look intimidating because the ball and clubs are so small and the golf course is so big.  SNAG Golf shrinks everything down and makes it fun.

You have an impressive resume as a player.  What's going on with your game?  Any playing goals for 2011?

As a player I am always trying to get better.  This offseason I have made a conscious effort to commit to my own fitness.  I have already begun to see results.   When on the golf course I am more in tune of my body’s movements throughout the swing.  My goals are always the same year in and year out, be competitive.  I never like to feel that I am out of a tournament.  If I can give myself a chance to be near the top of the leaderboard then I am happy. 

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