Our guest this episode is PGA professional Geoff Lound. Geoff is the Head Teaching Professional at the Tourbound Academy in downtown Chicago, which is home to the RoboGolfPro, a revolutionary robotic swing trainer. Geoff is also an instructor at Glencoe Golf Club throughout the warm weather months. Visit Tourbound Golf Academy and Glencoe Golf Club for more information.
In the first of this two-part interview we talk about:
- What it was like to learn the game of golf in Australia
- How Geoff joined fellow Aussies Adam Scott and Aaron Baddeley in the United States
- Why playing collegiate golf at The University of Illinois changed his life
- What he learned from top Big Ten coaches like Mike Small and Pat Goss
- How the RoboGolfPro helps golfers feel the golf swing
- How golfers can manage their frustrations to improve their game
Interviewer: Walter Lis. Running Time: 23:34
Chicago Golf Report: So let’s begin if you can kind of give a little background of how you got into golf and the golf business and made your way here to Chicago?
Geoff Lound: Yeah, I guess maybe a common introduction to the game, my father was an avid golfer and enjoyed the game and I would go along and hit some balls at the driving range and caddy for him as a young kid. And then from there I just enjoyed all sports really growing up and I was lucky to get a bit of talent and I enjoyed to play as well of course and went from there.
So I guess at a young age growing up in Australia watching Greg Norman play quite well and I didn’t know what it meant but at 12 I was looking at becoming a professional golfer and then beyond that I continued to play other sports. About 14 I was starting to have a strong passion for it, and every opportunity I had I was on the golf course, practicing and competing. And then I just sort of went up the ranks and then from there I knew I always wanted to be around golf in some aspect, and certainly wanted to pursue a playing career. But I always loved to, even at a young age start to talk about the golf swing, and how to improve and hit different shots and I think that love for understanding the game has now answered to me in more recent years my love of coaching and helping others and again still loving the game.
Chicago Golf Report: So when you got to the United States how did that happen and how did you kind of stick and then transfer from playing the game into starting coaching.
Geoff Lound: Yeah, there was a young guy by the name of James McLean, another Australian who as a freshman at Minnesota won the NCAA Championships. So all of a sudden a lot of the coaches realized there’s probably more young golfers, boys and girls in Australia that might be I guess having some talent. And at the time Adam Scott and Aaron Baddeley were coming to I guess the world stage in amateur golf.
I was offered a position and accepted a scholarship at the University of Illinois. So that’s how I first came to the States and had a great time there and was under the guidance of for my last three years coach Mike Small. And it’s been great to see how the program’s progressed and I learned a lot from him and the program and the competition from traveling the States. I have a love here for the people I met and the country, and certainly you know the Illinois area and Chicago in particular.
So from there I’ve been through the PGA system and I took a contract through the Middle East in Abu Dhabi Golf Club, and now I’ve followed my love and now my wife back to Chicago and so I’ve been coaching here full-time in the last three years and planning to stay here with a young family just started. And so I guess that’s how I got into the industry and then now over to Chicago as a permanent home.
Chicago Golf Report: But before we get into the role of golf pro, can you talk a little bit about that experience of playing for Mike Small and a program like Illinois, because it seems somewhat ironic for a Midwest state like Illinois to have a program like Mike Small’s and then also to even have Northwestern here with Pat Goss and his team who seems that we have some really good collegiate teams. What was that like to play in that type of arena of the Big Ten.
Geoff Lound: Well it was great and I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I would have at the time as a kid I guess. But now I look back and I realize how much I did learn as a young man and certainly as a golfer and I used a lot of things I learned in my coaching now. For Pat Goss and Coach Small, they’ve done a wonderful job.
They’re great guys. They’re passionate about their coaching and wanting genuinely to get their players to play well and to get a good education. And I think that guidance and leadership encourages kids that already have some talent of course with a great start with their local coaches where they grew up and support from their parents.
Especially I obviously talk with Coach Small or even Pat, you know when I did come across them at an event. They’re just good guys and they knew what they’re talking about and they had good technical knowledge but they knew how to get the best out of their players and teach the correct methods to play. But certainly it provides the correct environment.
And sometimes as we know in golf confidence is key and I found that Coach Small was able to know when to push when we needed to be pushed and maybe pulled to the side and have a chat when things were just not feeling right. You know we were fortunate after a little bit of success and started to play some of the bigger schools in the south and then from that success again a little bit of confidence.
And you know continue the experience in the Midwest schools in particular in Illinois now are a consistent contender. So obviously that attracts some better players from out the country. I just saw that Coach Small has just recruited from some from the warmer States, so I think before he arrived it would have been a lot tougher to probably attract that. So again my coaching now I certainly still play a little bit and certainly still using a lot of stuff I learned from that experience.
Chicago Golf Report: You mentioned confidence quite a bit and I think it’s a great segue into talking about the RoboGolfPro, because of the fact that it’s such a unique training tool or unique coaching aid, something that you’re certified with. Can you talk a little bit about what is the RoboGolfPro and how do you go about using it in teaching to people to learn how to play the game.
Geoff Lound: Well for those who haven’t come across it yet or haven’t seen it even, this RoboGolfPro is a robotic swing trainer that the coach would program a golf club to be moved by six arms attached to a robot machine. And basically the student instead of interpreting what they may have read or what the coach has said, they hang onto the club and is moved through different positions and then a smooth consistent swing so the student can feel what they need to do in golf team.
For some people it’s a drastic change and some people it’s a subtle change but really important to make that change. So I guess the key thing is you get that feel from which you can go away and practice correctly. You know the old saying is perfect practice makes perfect, rather than just practice makes perfect.
And as far as confidence and having belief I guess you know, golf is frustrating flat out. And I say to my students, I don’t mind if you get frustrated but I don’t want you to be frustrated moving forward not knowing your plan.
A golf shot can be frustrating at the time but if someone knows exactly the feel and movement that they need to be doing as correctly diagnosed by the coach that with using the RoboGolfPro, they can be confident moving forward and closer and closer to the correct movement. Because the robot machine is very consistent obviously with every movement in the practice that we have on it, rather than – and still obviously effective, if I jump in a more traditional lesson before the RoboGolfPro. If I’m moving and guiding people, even for me I try to be as precise as I can be, but there is a little bit of that human error. You can get people very close, but might not get them there as fast or as accurately.
So in that very early cognitive stage of a change, so that when people are needing to understand and think about a different movement, if it’s needed in the golf swing it really helps them to get that correct movement and get them improving faster. So it’s been great.
I’ve had a lot of people flying in from all over the country and some people visiting from overseas, because it’s new, it’s exciting and some people just love the experience because it’s cool. But beyond that we want to be effective in having them go away as better golfers or at least have a better understanding of their golf swing. So it’s fun to see you know people enjoy the game a bit more and play better golf.
Chicago Golf Report: I believe, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, there are 12 locations for the RoboGolfPro in North America?
Geoff Lound: Yeah, it’s been great to see. It started out in Chicago, one of the first locations here in North America and Pebble Beach approached us and have a robot there. When you’ve got a course and an academy like Pebble Beach purchasing it for themselves obviously it has been great for the validation of the teaching effectiveness.
So beyond that other academies have now purchased it and there are some private purchases as well. Vaughn Taylor who’s been a great player in the past and I know he made the Ryder Cup there a few years ago and he’s recently purchased one for himself. And I think his improvement in the recent years, in the last couple of years has really help again probably for him again you know a little bit of improvement, a bit of clarity in what he needs to be doing and then a bit of belief.
So yeah it’s great to see the success of it, again being through all the initial stages of seeing it being launched here in the States and I think it’ll just be a matter of time where 12 turns into 24 and then more and more.