This month we interview Derek Siesser, winner of the 2019 PNW PGA Player Development Award. He has emerged as a leader in teaching the game and growing the game. He has accomplished this by investing in teaching technology including video and True 3D motion capture, designing creative programs to teach lessons, mentoring fellow professionals and helping to mold the long-range vision of PGA Junior League Golf in the Inland Northwest.

Hometown: Maple Valley, WA

PGA Professional since: Earned membership in 2010

Tell us a little bit about your career. Who or what inspired you to become a Golf Professional?

As a collegiate golfer, I loved to practice and tinker with my swing. I would spend hours on the range, trying different things, video taping my swing and analyzing. I just loved the science part of the golf swing and trying to “Macgyver” new techniques and training devices. As a senior in school, I did an internship with mentor Joe Sievers. Joe was the perfect mix of scientific instruction and personal connection to his students, it was what I wanted to do. I was also working at Meridian Valley CC at the time and loved the culture that Greg Manley had created. He, Robyn Lorain and Brian Thornton created an environment for a young professional to learn and thrive, something i’m grateful for. I’ve had a few other stops along the way, Overlake, The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge, The Creek at Qualchan and now Indian Canyon. I’m fortune to have been around professionals who desire to grow others every step of the way. Mark Gardner, Ron Hoetmer, Marcus King, Dan Harrington and Doug Phares in addition to those I listed above are all professionals who have had significant impacts on my career and ambition as a professional.

You have been the driving force in developing PGA Jr. League Golf in the Inland Empire Chapter. Do you have any tips for those looking to adopt or grow PGA JLG at their facility?

Don’t be afraid to start small. One of the most common things I see other professionals do is not be willing to start small and go through the process of organic growth. Be content with hitting a single instead of a home run. If you only get 6 players your first year, so what… be dedicated to making a great experience for them. Your initial clients are the ones that are the most excited about your program. If you make it great for them, they will tell others how great the program is and help you grow exponentially. The program is a proven game changer, but it doesn’t happen over night. Commit to it and you will not regret it.

What role do you feel technology has in teaching golf?

The benefit of using technology is that it gives us the ability to quantify the golf swing and improvement. People want data to track things in 2019 and beyond, this gives it to them. It also adds a level of entertainment to the instruction process. When people spend money on golf lessons and golf in general, they want to be entertained. The more I can provide them in terms of entertainment, the more likely they are to enjoy their experience and return.

Can you tell us about your “gym membership model” for teaching golf?

I hate the idea we promote in golf instruction that 3 or 5 lessons are going to help players achieve their goals. Rarely does that happen. Improving your golf swing is like losing weight or getting fit, it’s a constant process and evolves over time. I wanted to create a model that allows students to commit to the process of improvement over a long period of time and helps them get the most out of their instruction. Students who sign up get unlimited lessons each month, they can take two or they can get six or more in depending on the schedule. This program has been successful in retaining clients long term and for getting the most improvement from my students.

Congratulations, Derek Siesser!