Scott Hogan and the Changing Face of Golf Instruction

Our guest once again on The Chicago Golf Report podcast is Scott Hogan, who is a PGA Certified Professional in Teaching and Coaching, a designation earned by 3% of all PGA Professionals. He is also TPI certified and is certified in several areas of golf biomechanics. Scott offers a wide variety of instructional, strategy and product review content on his popular YouTube channel as well as his website. You can also follow Scott on his social media channels:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therealshg
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@scotthogangolf
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/notbenhogansson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scotthogangolf
Snapchat: ScottHoganGolf

In this discussion we learn about:

  • The non-negotiables in the game of golf.
  • Why golf is still an old-school game.
  • How Scott selects products to test and then present to his audience.
  • Why launch monitors and golf simulators have become so popular.
  • Which launch monitor that Scott uses the most and why.
  • What will golf instruction will look like in 10 years.

The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

[Walter Lis] How did you become an in an instructor and get to where you’re at?

[Scott Hogan] I started playing golf when I was really young, when I was like six, seven years old. I played other sports and all that too.

Golf really took to me though because there was a lot of individuality to it. I can do it my way as long as I’m shooting better scores.

And if, if my goal was to compete, how can I basically do it on my own. I guess I tend to be that way.

And golf really stuck with me. That got me playing as I got older.

I then needed to find a job, so decided I’m gonna work at a golf course. With the business mindset and I started teaching because it felt natural.

At that point, I could play, but I didn’t know how to teach. The first few years of teaching were definitely interesting.

I then ended up in Arizona where I got a chance to work. I initially went out there just to go for the winter, but I ended up meeting a guy named Mike Malaska, who I think a lot of people know.

He has his own YouTube channel and he really got me thinking this is something that you could actually do as a legitimate career.

For me it’s important that you see growth and you have opportunities to get better and improve. So instruction really took to me because I do enjoy helping people play the game.

I want the game to grow. And for me personally, I enjoy getting better as a teacher, my communication skills, all that type of stuff.

That’s really where coaching started. After a few years I came back to Chicago and started my own business. There are a lot of ups and downs that go with having your own business, so you learn a lot about things you can’t control, what you can’t control.

I think that relates a lot to golf. And it makes sense to me that’s where I’ve gravitated in my career.

[Walter Lis] So now you’re an instructor in Oak Lawn where you teach people at Stony Creek Golf Course. You also do online teaching, correct?

[Scott Hogan] I teach at Oak Lawn, that’s where I’m the director instruction at Stony Creek Golf Course. And then, the online thing has grown. I actually teach it here in Lockport in the winter as well.

This is actually my studio in my garage. I made it to film, but it actually works for teaching there too. Five years ago I was listening to Michael Breed talk and he actually said something that back then I thought he was crazy, but he said he expects within the next five years that every lesson he teaches will be online.

At the time you’re like, no way. It’s always gonna be in person. But then, as technology and things have come along, we got some exciting new things that really make coaching online easier.

And to be honest it can be a really good way to do it. I personally work with coaches that I’ve never met in person for my own games.

I could see the benefit of, hey, I wanna do it in person as well. But online is not as foreign or scary as I think it used to be.

[Walter Lis] You said something that really resonated. The idea of doing it on my own. You wanted to learn, you wanted to grow your ability in the game.

I think that’s the question that all golfers face. How much can I do on my own? How much can I improve my game?

From my own perspective, I’ve really struggled to improve my golf game on my own. I’ve figured out that I really need someone to help me with getting all this correct. Do you think that’s the norm for people, or do you for the average golfer, we can improve ourselves up to a point?

[Scott Hogan] I think it depends. I think what most people do is they just throw things at the wall. I’m gonna try this today and I’m gonna try this tomorrow.

I think in the golf game, you just have to have an idea of how to make it go where you want it to go. Even if it’s not the prettiest shot or whatever it is, you need some understanding of what that’s doing. There are certain things and tools that we have available to us to put together that plan.

That’s part of why my YouTube channel came about. I was recognizing that there are all these tools that are available to people.

You have people know what they’re talking about and what they’re looking for, and how to explain it to them.

I just did a video actually this week of like my own plan. I’m trying to show people my plan for my own game.

But you definitely want to have a plan. Really, you’re look looking for confidence. There’s something to be said for “Hey, I actually believe that this is going to help me.”

So when you get that second opinion and you get that, somebody coming in and saying, Hey, this is what you gotta do, that helps my belief that yeah, this is gonna work. And I think that’s a big, underrated part of getting better.

[Walter Lis] Do you do all the editing and technology work yourself? Is that something that you’re interested in? How did that come about?

[Scott Hogan] Yeah, there’s a reason my beard is getting very gray. I’m not 40 yet, and it’s getting very gray.

There’s a lot of hours of working on all this stuff. I do it all myself. I really enjoy it and its something I started doing.

I have two older brothers. One works for a television show as a graphics designer, like he does graphics for the show.

I wanted to make like a graphic for my video. And he goes and gets on the keyboard and he gets it done really fast. That was like an eye-opening moment.

I’ve done a lot of online courses. Then it’s a lot of trial and error. I’m always messing with stuff and trying stuff out. I’m trying a new setup actually right now.

It’s been fun though. Even though it sounds like a lot of work it’s a lot of fun though. It’s a new challenge for me. There’s something always to get better at, so I always enjoy that.

[Walter Lis] In addition to a professional is you’re also a curator. You do a very good job of selecting products, testing them and then presenting them to your audience.

[Scott Hogan] My goal is never to make a video that just trashes people because, I don’t want to do that. So I usually get it myself and then try it.

And then if it’s good and I think there’s uses for it, I will make the video and let people know about it. I don’t reach out beforehand.

I think people are starting to realize, “Hey, I can do that at home.” And people need to be able to play golf when it’s a little bit more convenient or practice golf when it’s a little bit more convenient.

I think people are always gravitating towards these tools that are out there and saying, “Hey, what are these things? What is this device? What’s this new toy?”

[Walter Lis] The golf simulator business is currently booming. Do you think there’s a point in time where we all have a simulator in our home?

[Scott Hogan] I think there will be a point where it’s available if you want it. And there’s so many options out there.

I do think it’s where if you’re serious about it and you want to be able to hit a lot and hit at home you can do it. And they’re also getting so good.

The one I use all the time, is the FlightScope Mevo+. I’ve also used a lot of them.

I don’t think it’ll ever get to a point where it fully replaces golf. But, I think courses and driving ranges have to get more creative, because why go to the range and just whack balls?

That’s why I think you’re seeing more Toptracer ranges where they have a reason to come to the range. Otherwise, people aren’t gonna come as often.

[Walter Lis] Have you seen an impact in terms of the interest people have in taking instruction over the winter? Has having all of these indoor golf options impacted you in terms of people wanting to take lessons?

[Scott Hogan] Yeah, people still want to take instruction in the winter depending on who it is. I work with a lot of juniors, so they’re always looking to get better.

What people are looking for a lot of is an explanation of what they have. So if they have like a FlightScope Mevo+ where it’s got club path, it’s got angle attack, it’s got horizontal launch, it’s got a bunch of numbers and people don’t really understand what they’re looking at.

They don’t have a full picture of what’s going on in their swing that would make these things work. But it’s a better option to work in the winter because you can get all the stuff you need.

[Walter Lis] You offer online video courses, video training where people can work with you. You also have an online swing bootcamp. Can you talk a little bit about the various things that you offer?

[Scott Hogan] That program is a monthly program and what I try to tell people about that program is, you get to send your swing in and ask questions as much as you want throughout the month. It’s basically the program I wish I had growing up where it’s like, “Hey, you take a lesson, and you have a question.”

I would always go take lessons. I’d leave, I’d always feel good, then I’d leave. Go practice and you’re like, wait, this something’s not right.

And then you must wait till you go to the next lesson to ask about it and talk about it. Because we have online and that makes this possible where we can just send a quick note, send a quick follow-up video.

[Walter Lis] Final question. Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now? Knowing that the landscape change is so dramatically, what do you see as where would you like to be at in 10 years?

[Scott Hogan] I love teaching, so I don’t see that going away. But I’ve also really grown to love this whole video making videos and all that stuff. I don’t see that going away either.

The thing I like to do, and I’ve started doing it a little bit on my channel, I like to go learn and get better at teaching and stuff, but
I do like to go showcase the great things going on.

There are people that are doing a really good job and I like to showcase those people and what they’re doing and what they’re about. We call it our instructor series.

[Walter Lis] That brings up one last bonus question for you. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the popularity of golf social media influencers like the Good Good Guys.

[Scott Hogan] They have big teams with three or four people behind the scenes that are filming and doing all the work. It’s not as easy as I think people.

You’ve got to make good stuff. You can’t just slap stuff together anymore. It’s gotten very high quality.

I talk with a lot of pros that ask me about it, and if you’re not willing to devote realistically, four or five hours a week to doing it at least, you’re probably not going to see anything from it. You probably could do better elsewhere.

I think it’s an interesting shift. I think you’re seeing that amongst the legacy media. They’re getting on board with that. I think that’s why you’re seeing some shakeups of the announcing crews as well.

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Walter Lis

Walter Lis is the managing editor of Chicago Golf Report, which launched in 2010.

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