Ask millennials who work with a golf instructor about their swing metrics, and most can give a detailed overview of their spin rate, launch angle, ball speed, attack angle, smash factor and many more statistics. These numbers are often provided by launch monitors such as TrackMan and are a way of statistically quantify the results of the golf swing.
Today’s younger generation has grown up with the presence of technology and big data collection within their instruction. But despite these advances in swing metrics and performance tracking, most golfers quickly realize all this data doesn’t mean much without a trained professional to help process the information and build a development program for that individual player.
Edward Osborne Wilson is a biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and is considered the world’s leading expert on ants. Wilson is also famous for a quote that perfectly illustrates the importance of a trained golf instructor.
“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom” said Wilson. “The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.”
Today’s top instructors can seamlessly mesh the information provided by technology with a keen understanding of a golfer’s psychology and their ability to process and implement instruction based on their physical and mentally capabilities.
One of the best at utilizing new school technology and old school teaching knowledge along with a strong awareness of psychology is Jake Thurm, who is the Director of Instruction at Fresh Meadow Learning Center and Ruffled Feathers Golf Club. His ability to effectively bring technology and teaching together to positively impact golfers of all skill levels is why we are proud to name Jake as the Chicago Golf Report Instructor of the Year.
In addition to helping Chicago golfers, Thurm has worked with top PGA Tour professionals such as Kevin Streelman and James Hahn and is the Lead Instructor for the Midwest Region of USA Junior National Golf Team.
Jake’s impressive resume has generated significant acknowledgement from national publications such as Golf Digest, where’s he’s been named one of America’s Best Young Teachers the past three years, along with being recognized as one of the best teachers in the State of Illinois.
Jake Thurm is Chicago golf success story, having grown up in Chicagoland and staying firmly entrenched here throughout his professional career. Before he ascended into the ranks of the elite PGA Tour golf instructors, Thurm got his start playing golf as a student at Downers Grove South. He later went on to play Junior College golf at the College of DuPage and finished his college golf career at Millikin University.
Jake started his career in golf instruction under the tutelage of Dr. Jim Suttie, one of the top golf instructors in the country for the past 30+ years. Suttie quickly recognized the persistence and passion Thurm had for golf instruction.
“Jake really wanted to be a teacher” said Dr. Jim Suttie. “I could see that from how he came around all the time. Basically, what I did was encourage him because I thought he had a lot of talent as a teacher and he understands how to relate with people and how to communicate.”
Jake graduated from Millikin University with a bachelor of science degree in clinical psychology. Before starting his career in golf, Thurm worked for the Department of Children and Family Services in Decatur and Chicago as a child abuse investigator and was also respite worker with mentally ill children in DuPage County. It’s this diverse background and a strong sense of empathy along with an intense desire to learn that helped develop his unique skill set as a golf instructor.
“Jake is very good at the communication process, the learning process and the analytical process” said Dr. Suttie. “I think teachers must be good at all three. He always enjoyed video and learning of the different swing types and where the power originates from. It was natural for him and I like to encourage people like Jake who have natural ability. He’s done a great job.”
In addition to teaching at Fresh Meadow and Ruffled Feathers, Thurm works with his students during the cold weather months at the Athletico Golf Performance Center in Oak Brook. One of the tools he uses year-round is the BodiTrak Golf Pressure System, which helps measure ground force pressure. Thurm is on the Tour Advisory Board and has given presentations around the world to help other golf instructors understand how to leverage BodiTrak to help their students.
“I actually think that technology in a lot of ways, is so beneficial to the student” said Thurm. “But I think in a way that the reason it’s beneficial to the teacher is that it saves the student from the teacher’s opinion or influence.”
“Now, there still is coaching. That would be the interpretation of data, but the influence of those numbers is where we still do get into coaching. But the neat thing is that the issue isn’t up for debate.”
In addition to his golf coaching and instruction, Thurm’s latest project is a new venture with Jim McLean and Terry Hashimoto called Swing Balance, where he is a co-founder and Head of Instruction Technology. The company produces a line of balance tools designed to help improve power and balance in golf and in all sports.
As a lead instructor and National Advisory Board Member for the USA Junior National Golf Team, Thurm is currently working with some of the top junior golfers in the Midwest. While working these young players, his clients on the PGA Tour and everyday Chicago golfers, Jake will continue to help break down barriers to improvement, while providing the right information at the right time… and lower scores.