By Rick Woelfel, Women’s Golf Report
On December 3, 2012, Dana Rader was elected to a second three-year term as President of the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) Division, the LPGA’s instructional arm.
Rader, who oversees the Dana Rader Golf School at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, North Carolina, first assumed her post in 2010.
In an exclusive interview with Women’s Golf Report’s Rick Woelfel, Rader talked about the impact the T&CP has had over the past three years and what she hopes to accomplish in 2013 and beyond.
This installment is Part One of two.
WGR: What made you decide to seek another term as President of the T&CP
Rader: There were three reasons for deciding whether I would or wouldn’t run again. The first was, I wouldn’t run again if I wasn’t doing the job and wasn’t the person for the job. I would have stepped down and let somebody else do it.
The second reason to run or not to run was that I had accomplished what I needed to accomplish, I left it better than it was, and that I was feeling good and somebody could step in and continue on.
The third factor was that I had done what I wanted to do, but wanted it to be completed, that I felt that I needed to complete everything at a higher level.
Obviously the third reason was the reason I ran. We accomplished a lot but there still was a lot left to do. I felt I had the skills to do this along with a great team that we had cultivated. So I felt three more years was the right decision.
WGR: Looking back on the past three years, what are the accomplishments you’re most proud of?
Rader: Several things. First and foremost we’ve grown our membership. For the past 15 or 20 years our membership had been kind of flat. It was just over 1,200 when I started (as President), now it’s over 1,500.
We expanded into a foreign country with T&CP Korea. By the end of this year we’ll have a hundred new members coming out of Korea. That was an important initiative in that we see ourselves as a global association so I’m proud about that.
There’s been ongoing work for the past three years on revising, updating and changing our national education program, all three of our core programs. That should be completed by mid-July. It’s been a very in-depth undertaking and I think is going to make us even better.
We have created new programs, we launched our first Teaching and Coaching Summit. We held it in 2011 in Orlando and it sold out. We’re going to be having our next one this year in Denver Colorado in August in conjunction with the Solheim Cup.
So we feel that we’ve increased our member value, we’ve increased membership, not only in our own country, but now in foreign countries.
That was a big thing, increasing our member value as far as making our education better. Now we’re starting to update and in many ways recreate our continuing education program.
WGR: How does all you’ve done over the past three years set up the next three?
Rader: The next three years are really about branding.
The first thing we did was make sure our infrastructure was strong in terms of financial stability. We wanted our education program to be the very best that it could be. We launched a mission statement the very first year I was President, and that was to be the leaders of golf education and the development of golf professionals worldwide. That mission has charged us with all the work we’re doing right now going forward.
When we put together our mission statement we wanted to make sure all the things we needed to accomplish were in place. The infrastructure is in place, education is in place and getting better.
We wanted to make sure, as we have all those parts in place, that our brand is ready to be recognized. Not that it hasn’t been in the past, but we felt that we needed to make the association stronger in its education and increase our membership. Now it’s time to get the T&CP the kind of credit and visibility that it has so long deserved.
Within the next year and into 2014 we’ll be running commercials on Golf Channel. We’ll be beginning a lot of grassroots programming that will give us higher visibility. Branding is really a big piece of what we’ll be doing the next three years, really getting our name out there and growing the association.
WGR: Has visibility historically been a problem for the T&CP in terms of being overshadowed by the LPGA Tour?
Rader: I don’t look at it that way. When I tell someone I’m an LPGA member they’re immediately going to think I’m associated with the tour.
I don’t take that as a negative, but I do think it is important that our association has the kind of recognition it needs to have.
There is one big umbrella. Under that umbrella is the LPGA Tour, the LPGA Foundation, and the LPGA teaching and club professionals.
Under that umbrella it is about professional athletes and entertainment, it is about growing the game of golf, the LPGA Foundation, the Junior Girls Golf Club, raising awareness for junior girls. Then the T&CP is raising the awareness of teaching professionals and club professionals globally.
Those three are all about growing the game of golf and that’s really what the entire association is about, showcasing the tour, the elite players, and the opportunities that might be there for a little girl who wants to play professionally someday, or some little girl that wants to teach golf and become a club professional someday.
And I don’t think enough of that awareness for young girls is out there. That is something we need to do more of, get into colleges and high schools, as a way of showing young girls it’s possible to have a career in golf.
What are some of the things the LPGA has been doing to grow the game?
Our job as leaders is to properly equip young professionals, people who have been in the business with tools that available, from education to communication.
That is something that as teaching and club professionals we do very well. We don’t just teach the swing. We teach the student and it’s about all the elements, the social aspect of golf, the physical aspect of golf. It’s the mental aspect of golf.
Traditionally, it’s just been about teaching the mechanics, and something we do really well is understanding learning styles and understanding the student.
If people hit the ball better and play better they have a better experience. So growing the game has to be, first of all, equipping and better educating your teachers and club professionals.
Secondly, in my humble opinion, juniors are absolutely where the growth of the game is. Not just having junior programs that are babysitting programs, but having junior programs that are fun, where they’re not standing out on a line learning grip, stance, posture and alignment, but programs where they’re having games, they’re associating golf with fun, rather than associating golf with being in school. Junior programs have to be exciting and fun, and you have to keep them active.
One of the fastest-growing segments in kids’ golf is kids under the age of five. Those kids will play the game, but they have got to learn the game first by having some fun with it.
We’re doing a great program with our LPGA Junior Girls Golf Club. We have sites around the country. We have programs at tour events, where kids can come and experience watching LPGA Tour players play and coming to clinics there and having T&CP members there to assist with the clinics.
Every one of our members is doing a phenomenal job in the area of not just only junior golf, but of teaching the game and getting people playing the game again.
Topics: Teaching and Club Professionals