1st Assistant Golf Professional
For Arrowhead Golf Club Assistant Golf Professional Andrew Ogata, golf is about the one shot that keeps you coming back. “It’s the only game you can never be perfect at,” Andrew says. “There’s days where you don’t miss a shot and get everything you want to,” and then there are frustrating days.
Golf is also about the teaching experience and the learning process, the success after a series of lessons, even when one may not expect it. One of Andrew’s most memorable students was Luke, who participated in PGA Junior League Golf, a team format competition with children of all skill levels, ages 9 to 13. “Luke was probably my smallest kid on the team. He’s on a green and he’s got this 40-foot putt. I pull him aside and say, ‘Luke, knock this in, bud,’ and he says, ‘Coach, I can’t. I’m not a good putter.’ I say, ‘No, you can do it.’ “Sure enough, [he] putts it, [it] rolls up the hill—it was not an easy putt to make—and he drained it. That look on his face is one of the reasons why we do what we do,” Andrew says.
Individual lessons are always different, each student unique. “You never know what you’re going to work on that day,” says Andrew. “I love doing the individual lessons because it keeps you on your toes as an instructor.” Junior and adult group lessons are “definitely more structured.” “We’ve got to plan what we’re doing each day, a timeline of when we’re transitioning into something else. They’re all fun,” he says.
Andrew is a left-handed golfer. But when he started teaching three years ago, former Head Golf Professional Billy Klemz had Andrew take his adult group lesson—right-handed. “It was to get an idea of what it felt like as a beginner,” he says. “These are the growing pains [students] go through. That was one of the best teaching tools anybody could’ve ever given me. You don’t know how the swing feels and you’re trying to explain it to somebody and you have no idea. It’s a whole new language to learn.”
Andrew started at Arrowhead as a cart attendant seven years ago, but he’s been playing golf since he could walk. “My dad played, my grandpa played, so for me it was a nice way to hang out with them,” he says. “Then I played through high school, and it’s always been a part of my life somehow.”
Yet golf can be a frustrating part of people’s lives, without the proper mindset. “It’s a difficult game as it is, but you’re playing a sport where the ball doesn’t move,” he says. “You get to tee it up. Nobody’s throwing a slider or a curveball, and the ball stays still. And yet this game is so difficult and frustrating.” The best thing to do with golf, Andrew says, is “keep it simple: it’s a hard game, and the last thing you want to do is throw another curveball into it.”
To book a lesson with Andrew, please call 630.653.5800 or stop in at the Arrowhead Golf Club Pro Shop, 26W151 Butterfield Road, Wheaton.
Assistant Golf Professional
Golf makes Arrowhead Golf Club Assistant Golf Professional Matt Nations, “more of a patient person.” “There are so many things you can’t control,” he says. “You could hit a perfect shot and get a bad bounce. You take it in stride and accept what’s happening out there.”
But individual and group lessons can help any golfer, from seasoned 300-yard sluggers to putting specialists to people picking up a club for the first time. “Everybody [has] different techniques, everybody [has] a different personality,” Matt says. “It’s like an interview. You get a feel for the person, how they accept your advice, and how that translates. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s a matter of time commitment.”
One skill in which Matt believes any golfer can succeed, given enough practice, is putting. “Not everybody can hit [their] tee-shot 300 yards or hit [their] irons perfectly, but everybody can be a good putter,” he says. “It’s like practicing handwriting. Put enough time into it, and you can be the world’s greatest putter.” Tiger Woods is a great putter, and was also an influence on Matt and a reason to watch golf. “If he was playing well, you’d be watching golf, and if he wasn’t, you weren’t,” Matt says. “He’s just like a magnet. On the course, he was so dominant, [and] it’s hard to not appreciate that.”
Matt started golf when he was eleven, playing with his brother. During the summer, “we’d go three or four times a week to the club our parents belonged to, just me and him, and we’d be our own coaches. I’d help him, he’d help me.” For a few years, Matt worked at a golf retail store as a club fitter, but has since made the leap into Arrowhead.
Though some veteran golfers would prefer the sport remain the same, Matt thinks golf will change to attract younger generations to the game, particularly by cutting the time required to play a round and by implementing new technology. “Instead of nine holes, you’re going to play three 3-par holes,” Matt says, and golfers will be able to see “points leaders.” Eventually, Matt envisions a screen at every tee box with an interactive diagram of each hole, displaying the best drives, chips, and putts that day, week, month, and year. While the facade of golf may change, the core of it—having fun, developing athletic skills, improving physical and mental health, and, perhaps, learning personal lessons—may not.
“I know I’ll never be as good as I think I should be,” he says. “It teaches me to stay within my limits, on and off the course.”
To book a lesson with Matt, please call 630.653.5800 or stop in at the Arrowhead Golf Club Pro Shop, 26W151 Butterfield Road, Wheaton.