The biggest problem faced by most PGA professionals is that they spend most of their time teaching the game rather than playing it.
PGA professional Matt Mitchell says that is nonsense.
Mitchell, a well-known teaching pro at The Downs golf practice facility off Race Track Road, is a long-time teacher who made it to the big time when one of his students, LPGA star Brittany Lincicome, rose up the money list.
Lincicome still texts Mitchell for advice as she crosses the world, but Mitchell’s clientele is large. Despite all the time he spends teaching, Mitchell said any pro can find the time to play the game.
“I love this game too much to not be able to play,” Mitchell said. “I love teaching and I love the golf swing so much. It is great to teach, but you can always find time to play. I can’t play every day, but I am still competitive and I can do both.”
It might be tough, but Mitchell said he knows how to find time. He and his wife have two young children, so Mitchell, 55, has a lot on his plate. He’s been named one of the top 50 golf instructors in America by Golf Range Magazine, and he’s won several senior championships in Florida. He also plans to try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open this year.
So how does he find the balance between two young children, a thriving teaching business, and a playing hobby?
“I don’t know how to get it all done,” Mitchell said. “Things became different when we had our children, and they are more important to me than golf, but you still find the time.”
Mitchell started learning the game at a young age. Legendary golfer Ben Hogan wrote what is considered the ultimate instruction book, “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.” It’s practically required reading for anyone with aspirations at a successful golf career. Mitchell had devoured it by age 13 and has kept reading and tweaking people’s swings as well as his own ever since.
“People can get misinformed by trying to learn too much,” Mitchell said. “I teach to people’s strengths. I see what people do well and work from there. A lot of times I can see a person hit a ball well, even with an imperfect swing, but if they hit it well, I’m not going to change them. I work with what they do best.”
He encourages people not to expect too much when they sign up for a lesson, which he feels is just the start of a long process in learning a game that few ever master. Additionally, Mitchell feels that his teaching method is a little bit different.
“I take a holistic approach to teaching,” Mitchell said. “When you teach, you can’t always help people get rid of old habits, so you don’t try. You try to teach new habits that eventually overlap the old habits. It’s like a person who smokes cigarettes. They will always have the habit, but they can teach themselves to overlap that with new habits. It works.”
Golf is always going to be a passion for Mitchell who insists he can be a new dad, a teacher and a player all at the same time.