This past weekend, we were invited out to a golf clinic in Toronto Ontario, hosted by one of the top golf instructors in the world, Hank Haney. Currently touring across Canada and the USA with a series of golf clinics, Hank is recruiting young athletes for the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA). Apart from the obvious of getting instruction from one of the best in the business, we wanted to catch up with Hank and get an up close and personal look at the work he's doing at his academy and what sets them apart from other instructional golf programs.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the Hank Haney IJGA is currently the only academy in the world to combine training, competition and academics for serious junior golfers. It's gaining global recognition, with students currently attending from more than 25 countries around the world. Based in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the Hank Haney IJGA is home to about 150 full time students who remain focused on perfecting their game and preparing for post secondary education. Here's a look at the Hank Haney IJGA intro video:
Eat Sleep Golf representative, Jonathan Carr, was on scene at last weekends clinic to get the inside scoop and to capture Hanks vision, goals and plans for the academy.
So what prompted one of the best instructors in the industry to transition away from working with PGA Tour superstars and focus on junior golfers? We asked Hank exactly that... "Kids are the future of the game" Hank explained, "and to be able to see them grow, develop and learn life skills, that is what it's all about." Hanks passion for golf and for the next generation of golfers was evident as he continued, "It brings a lot of satisfaction; it's about more than just golf, it's about developing young people."
And developing young people is exactly what the Hank Haney IJGA does best, both on and off the course. The academy has some impressive statistics, with a proven track record that demonstrates it's effectiveness for developing a great foundation of golf fundamentals and the importance of a good education. Here's a couple stats that I find particularly impressive:
- There are currently two former students of the Hank Haney IJGA in the Top 30 LPGA Tour Money List (ShanShan Feng & In-Kyung Kim).
- 94% of Hank Haney IJGA graduates have received a college golf scholarship
The junior level is such an important stage, as golfers try to fine tune their game and build a foundation for making the transition into the college/university scene and hopefully beyond that. In such a competitive industry such as golf, what is it that separates those who will go on to play professionally and those who will simply remain good golfers? We asked Hank to weigh in on this topic and what types of things he looks for and what he hopes to instill in his students. In short "work ethic and perseverance" was his response. He went on to explain that if the number one golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, spent 110 days a year with Hank, it goes to show that everyone has things to work on and needs some help doing it.
Hank also attributes much of his students success to their own God given ability. The game of golf is a power game now, he explains, and the importance of hitting it long has never been more important. With all his students, both juniors and pros, Hank uses the same formula: diagnose mistakes and set an improvement plan, one step at a time in order to improve. Goals without a plan for achieving them are nothing but a dream. It's important to layout a plan and to accomplish it one small step at a time; and that exactly what The Hank Haney IJGA works on with each of their students, identify their goals and more importantly, implement a plan for accomplishing them. In the end, it's in the students hands, God given ability is great, but when it's all said and done, those who work the hardest and remain committed will surpass the naturally talented.
Speaking of hard work, are there specific elements of the game that all golfers need to work on? Hank discussed with us his recommendations with all his students which includes three main areas of focus: short game wedges, long game and putting. He recommends that golfers dedicate a third of their practice time to each of those areas. There aren't enough hours in the day to practice everything, but those who make the most of it, remain diligent and hard working will be the most successful.
The program at the Hank Haney IJGA goes more in dept into all facets of the game and also includes strength training, mental training, swing instruction, nutrition and more. After reviewing the programs and schedules, I'd have to say I've never seen a better designed program for junior golfers who are serious about their game and are looking for getting the best shot at making it to the next level.
So, if you or someone you know are planning for a future in professional golf, the Hank Haney IJGA is arguably the best place in the world to pursue that goal. For more information about the Hank Haney IJGA please visit them online at: www.ijga.com