Two short years.
From novice to No. 1.
In 2015, LPGA T&CP Hall-of-Famer Dana Rader picked up a new student. Nothing out of the ordinary. It was 9-year-old Cindy Song of Charlotte, North Carolina.
“In two years she climbed to No. 1 in the U.S. Kids and just qualified for the Drive, Chip & Putt at Augusta,” said a super proud teacher. “It’s pretty neat to see your students embrace the game and succeed.”
There is also the story of JD Hughes. He came to Rader when he was 12 years old and was a high handicapper. He worked tirelessly for six years and earned a scholarship to play college golf at Penn State. This past summer, he won the Pennsylvania State Amateur Championship and has become one of the top players for Penn State.
These are the stories that Rader loves to share. It’s no surprise that the LPGA T&CP lifer was named to the “Top 50 Teachers in America” list put out by Golf Digest in October.
“It’s about communication and being student-centered,” explained Rader. “The LPGA has been incredible for me, I still use stuff that they taught me years ago. I got a lot of mentoring from LPGA folks who taught me how to do programs and conduct golf schools and how to grow my business. The LPGA is a big reason why I’m on any list.”
Rader lists Peggy Kirk Bell, Annette Thompson, Sheri Graham and DeDe Owens among many others as her mentors when she started teaching 37 years ago. In November of 2016, Rader was inducted into the T&CP Hall-of-Fame.
“That kind of summarizes your career, it’s the pinnacle,” said Rader. “Every golf professional wants to be in their hall of fame because it’s a culmination of your life’s work. It’s not just about being a good teacher, but it’s also about the service that you give back to your association. It’s about your service to the golf world.”
When Rader was in her late teenage years, she wanted to play on the LPGA Tour against the world's best. At the same time, she was also creating sports camps in her mind and jotting down camp concepts and outlines on paper.
“Even though I wanted to play professionally, deep down I knew that wasn’t the route I was going to go,” explained Rader. “I always liked the business side of sports and the teaching side.”
She was destined for this and has used a simple philosophy over the years. It’s all about the student.
“I’m always aware of what the student wants to do and what their goals are,” said Rader. “I’m all about staying in the student’s world, getting feedback from them and making sure I don’t talk over their head. When I start seeing changes in the swing, I know they are understanding.”
Rader’s clients run the gamut. They generally start at 8 or 9 years old, but she recently had a lesson with an 80-year-old woman.
“She took eight hours of instruction over two days and has a beautiful golf swing,” said Rader. “She’s a beautiful person and was still taking notes and trying to learn everything she could over two days. She just wants to keep playing and she wants to hit the ball further.”
Don’t we all?
It’s been Rader’s life work to grow the game of golf and also help anyone – no matter the age – shave a stroke or two off the scorecard.
She has done hall-of-fame worthy work.