Special Olympics Golf
EGTF Pro, Jeff Swanson
Things have been great since I got back from England. I officially set up shop here in St. Anton as “Golfschule Arlberg” and as you see on the picture I advertise as an EGTF Training Center. My lesson book is running at about 25 hours per week now and at my rate of €50 per hour I am very happy with the added income I am now generating. I have bought a Casio EX-.FH 100 (cheaper version of the F1, only €250, works great, good slow motion).
I had a great experience last July when an elderly man and his wife showed up for one of the introductory golf lessons paid for by the Tourist office (8-10 hours a week). He asked me about a private lesson for the next day for him and his wife and during the lesson we got to talking and it turns out that he is a lifelong resident of St. Andrews, Scotland and hadn’t had a lesson since he was 14 years old and that was 64 years ago. I felt great that he asked for a private lesson and he was really pleased with it. I invited him and his wife to a beer and I was able to get a few good stories out of him about St. Andrews.
The Special Olympics Golf that I am doing is going great. I am now the Austrian National Coach. We had our National Summer Games in June 2010 and my Students came home with a Gold and Silver Medal in the Unified Golf Division (Fourball, Special Olympian with a Unified Partner). Based on these results we got invited to participate in Athens, Greece at the World Special Olympics Summer Games in June 2011. My daughter, Katharina, 18 years old with Down syndrome, will be competing in the Individual 9 Hole Competition and the other Girl will be in Unified Golf. Check it out at http://www.athens2011.com/. It is the largest sporting event in the world in 2011 with about 7500 athletes. The golf competition has 5 divisions with a total of 135 Golfers from 26 countries
Special Olympics Europe has asked me to direct an international 3 day coaching seminar at the end of May 2011 at a resort near Lisbon, Portugal and I am really looking forward to that.
The club that I am Managing, GC Arlberg, (in addition to teaching) is about to expand to 9 Holes and my goal now is to have the Practice facilities completely separate from the Course. As it is now I have the first hole fairway running through the Driving Range and it causes enough problems already for everybody with just our 6-Hole course.
Just today the PGA Pro at the club that I work at with the Special Olympians asked me if I had an interest in doing some courses for him this summer. I said that of course I was interested but I have to have the time for that. I think I will be too busy this summer with the growth of my Golf School and the expansion of our course to 9 Holes. I will have to see about that one.
An interesting thing happened when I wanted to change my status from Amateur to Pro with the Austrian Golf Association. They were not immediately ready to recognise me as “Pro” because I was not PGA. I quoted the rule book and there is no mention of the PGA as sole provider of Golf Lessons and a Pro is basically anyone who would accept money for lessons. I said to them that if they had a problem we could write a letter to the R and A asking their opinion. I think they didn’t want to be embarrassed and after that they did accept me as status of Pro on their computer similar to all of the PGA guys I know. There was one sentence in their response that went to they effect that “I would not be recognized by the PGA as a PGA Pro” and I responded that “I hope not because I haven’t done any of their courses” and that I am fully satisfied with my Diploma from the EGTF. It isn’t really a matter of the Austrian governing golf association to determine who is Pro or not but they do have a strong tie in with the Austrian PGA. You would be able to argue “restraint of trade” if they really created a big problem.
Typical Golf Teacher Problem: I don’t have time to play as much anymore. Seriously, my teaching season here is about 16 weeks and after mid-September I will be playing again. And you know what, having taken the course with you I have gained a lot of respect from the locals here and it is really a lot of fun teaching and I am growing into the role of the “local Pro”. There are a lot of side benefits. I got free greenfees at all the courses I went to play except for one. Last week I played in a tournament at my last club that I was a member and played a superb round of one over par. My old friends were very impressed and I was thrilled with being able to show them that as a Pro I can actually also play a decent game. My best round in 3 years.
EGTF Golf Professional
St. Anton am Arlberg