We had the chance to interview Julio Nutt in the past PGA Show and we certainly learned quite a bit on junior coaching, especially regarding subjects such as:
- Student-instructor relationships and its importance
- Experience and learning from others as a golf instructor
- A couple of current challenges we face today in junior golf
- How WJG is centralizing the best information and resources regarding junior golf!
Q/ You had a successful career in business and now work in one of the top instructional facilities in the U.S., what does it takes to succeed as a golf professional, especially nowadays with so much competition?
“A lot of skills, not only on the instruction side but in the human relations side as well. You need to be able to create rapport with your students, meaning you need to learn where are they coming from and how do they learn. You need to connect with them in a sense that you need to read if the person is more visual, auditory or kinesthetic. For example, if you have a student that comes and its talking very fast to you and it is a type A person and you are a type B person and talking to them really slow you are just not going to connect. The first thing as an instructor that you need to build with your student is definitely that connection, that rapport and trust.”
Q/ From your teaching experience, what are some of the basic differences from teaching a junior golfer vs. teaching an adult?
“The difference is that when I have a kid in front of me you have to assess the level of maturity that the kid has, because when you go by age, age is basically meaningless. I have seen kids that are 9 years old that think and process information like if they were fifteen or sixteen and I have seen kids that are fourteen that think and process information like if they were eight. I am not saying one is better than the other, I am just saying it is different. There are billions of human beings on this planet and not everyone starts crawling and walking at the same time. So when I say a fourteen year-old focuses like a nine year-old I am just saying his process of maturity is different and it happens the same way with the physical side, with coordination, motor skills and balance. So those are two key components that I have to evaluate before I think in the type of lesson and process I am going to give this kid.
With adults is the same, because it is not the same teaching an engineer, or a doctor, because the way their brains process information is different. Therefore, for an instructor the ability of reading the student and adapting to them is key.”
Q/ Why is keeping an open mind as an up and coming golf professional is so important? What benefits will this bring you on the long run?
“It is key, if you get to a point as an instructor where you think you know all that you need to know, then you are in big trouble. Golf is a never-ending study or science, for example this week I am going to spend 2 hours in the show and 25 hours in seminars, so basically my trip here to Orlando is to learn from others. I spent the last few days with some of the top minds and some of the people who have been doing what I do for many more years than me, so all I want to do is to pick their brains and learn from them. I had the chance to have dinner a couple of nights ago with Cameron McCormick (Jordan Spieth’s Coach) and I think I asked him over 30 questions that evening. I had the chance at the Top100 summit to sit next to Mike Bender who teaches Zach Johnson and the same thing. But, again, teaching is like anything else in life, is about experience, because once you have seen patterns many times through the years, you get better and faster at recognizing flaws and certain aspects that keep repeating themselves with many golfers. And after you see the same pattern 55 or 100 times you know exactly what you need to do at you are going to fix the problem in half an hour instead of in 3 lessons. So, there is no way to bypass experience not only in teaching but in anything.”
Q/ What is missing in junior golf presently?
“What I have seen in many tournaments and heard from many parents is pace of play. Six-hour rounds in junior tournaments are not healthy for the game; another thing that could be missing is the level or the toughness on the courses. We have to make sure the kids play courses and distances that make the game fun for them.
I have seen many examples where they are going to play a tournament and it is supposed to be an important tournament, so whoever sets up the course thinks that bad scores make the course look better. In consequence, they are having kids play there that are learning the process, and instead of placing the pins in the middle of the greens and making the course easier for them, they are setting them up tough for them and kids get frustrated with the high scores they shoot. They end up saying: ‘I am not good for this’, ‘I don’t want to try the game’, and that’s not the spirit of bringing the kids into the game.
We should make it fun and easy to make a pleasant experience. Yes, it has to be competitive and challenging to certain degree but there has to be a special yardage for them because they are not top pros playing in the U.S Open.”
Q/ In what ways does WorldJuniorGolf will contribute to the development of junior golf in the future?
“That’s huge! There is a very large void out there for a place with all the information. I talk to parents all the time specially from Latin-American countries and the questions are always the same:
- ‘What should I do, I am not a golfer?’
- ‘I don’t know much about golf, but my son/daughter loves it and I am lost?’
- ‘What are the steps I need to follow?’
- ‘Where should I take him?’
- ‘How should he train?’
- ‘What should he do and what shouldn’t he be doing?’
I think this is definitely going to help a lot, once they find out about the website and once they say ‘Ok, there is just one place where I can find all the information that I need’ or ‘there is one place that shows me where is the information’. This is going to be huge and I can envision many people coming into WorldJuniorGolf.com and recommending each other about it.”
By: World Junior Golf