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Student and Alumni Newsletter October 2015

Oct 19, 2015


5 Great New Irons That Are Turning Golfers' Heads

Even those who aren't golf equipment nuts will admit that it is an incredibly vibrant industry-within-an-industry. Every week, there seems to be hot new woods, wedges, putters or irons coming out of Carlsbad, Phoenix and anywhere else steel, titanium and tungsten are forged and cast.

At Golf Academy of America, we stay on top of all cutting-edge equipment; the spring and summer of 2015 were particularly interesting if you found yourself in the market for new irons.

When choosing your next set of irons, you might consider one of the following:



PING recently unveiled two new sets of irons that, given PING's nearly-impeccable track record of quality control, will find their way into thousands of bags through this upcoming fall. There's the new iE1 iron series, which will serve as a replacement for the i25 line of irons that have found popularity among recreational players and touring pros alike. Adherents to that line will find the new breed has a thinner topline, a wider sole and less offset than its predecessor. This promotes workability for mid- and lower-handicap players. MSRP: $135 per club steel; $150 graphite

For those looking for more forgiveness and straighter, more reliable ball flight, PING's new G Max irons may just be the ticket. With particularly springy faces and stronger lofts in line with those offered by most other major manufacturers, these irons should bring at least a half club more distance to their new owners. Take note that the G Max line's head shapes will be in between those of PING's previous G series and Karsten super-game-improvement line. MSRP: $121.25 steel; $136.25 graphite.



Whereas PING has largely eschewed forged irons (except for its high-end Anser line), Mizuno is beloved by a wide range of players for its forged irons, including its traditional muscle-back blades. Starting Sept. 18, two new offerings from the Japanese company will be receiving a lot of play, both on Tour and at the nearest course. Both irons are geared toward avid middle- and low-handicap golfers, but to different degrees.

The MP-25 irons model is a cavity back made with Mizuno's prized "grain-flow-forging" process. Boron is introduced into the material, which Mizuno claims makes the metal both thinner and stronger. The longer MP-25 irons also have a "Micro Slot" feature that purports to increase ball speed across the face of the club. MSRP: 3-PW, $999 steel, $1,099 graphite.

For the purist and the competitive player, the MP-5 is Mizuno's latest iteration of a muscle-back blade. With minimal offset, a thin topline and a compact shape, the MP-5 should provide the feel and shot-shaping ability Mizuno lovers have come to expect, with some added forgiveness owed to the "channel back" construction of the club. MSRP: 3-PW, $999 steel, $1,099 graphite.

Parsons Xtreme Golf

Parsons Xtreme Golf

Perhaps the most exciting new irons in golf come from outside the realm of the big equipment manufacturers. If you haven't heard of Parsons Xtreme Golf — PXG, for short — it's understandable. The outfit, helmed by founder and avowed golf nut Bob Parsons, is pretty much brand-new. Despite this status, they have already assembled a stable of pros that includes the PGA Tour's Ryan Moore and Rocco Mediate from the Champions Tour.

So far, PXG has only released one set of irons — the 0311s. However, their resemblance to muscle-back blades might turn off potential higher-handicap buyers. But the company's design team believes that the technology that goes into the 0311 line, and the custom-fitting capabilities inherent to their design, means that any player can play — and play better — with them. The PXG difference has to do with the fact that the hollow interior of each iron head is filled with a thermoplastic elastomer, which yields a quieter sound and softer feel. This also enables the faces of the 0311 irons to be thinner, which leads to more distance, even on off-center contact. Be advised that these high-tech irons are pricy when compared to their more mass-produced competitors. MSRP: from $300 per club.


4 GAA Teams Named Top in the Nation in NCCGA Fall 2015 Rankings


The fall tournament season has been an exciting one at Golf Academy of America. After big wins in regional tournaments for the National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA), four Golf Academy of America teams were among the best in the nation when the NCCGA released its fall 2015 rankings on Oct. 7.

Of the 150-plus college club teams, here is how Golf Academy of America lined up in the NCCGA Rankings:

  • 1. Golf Academy of America - Dallas
  • 7. Golf Academy of America - Phoenix
  • 10. Golf Academy of America - Myrtle Beach
  • 14. Golf Academy of America - Orlando

The entire Golf Academy of America family is very proud of our students and their performance in the regional tournaments that helped achieve these top national marks.

So, what got each team onto the big board?

The first place finish at the Texas Regional 1 tournament, which included beating the defending National Champions of Baylor, secured the nation's top spot for Golf Academy of America's Dallas team. The Texas Region is one of the most competitive in the NCCGA, but the team's top finish was bolstered by the play of Cory Pieper, ranked No. 1 individual player in the nation.

“Winning the first Texas Regional tournament is an accomplishment that has brought the players on the team and the other students together at the Dallas campus. It's something they are all really proud of,” noted Dallas campus director Mike McDonald. The team intends on competing in the National Tournament this November, but will first have to play for a top-two spot in the Texas Regional 2 tournament to secure their national invitation.

The Golf Academy of America team in Phoenix secured a spot in the country's top-ten after a first place finish at the Desert Regional 1 tournament. Outperforming teams from Arizona State and the University of New Mexico, the team was led by strong individual play. Students Michael Wood took first and Jacob McKinny and Devon Montoya tied for second on the individual leaderboard. All three are now in the top 50 for NCCGA individual player rankings.

Golf Academy of America's Myrtle Beach team placed 2nd in the Southeast Regional 1 tournament to secure the No. 10 spot in the national rankings. Myrtle Beach edged out teams from Clemson and the College of Charleston in their runner-up finish with strong individual play by Eric Eaton, now ranked 20th in the nation.

Players from the Golf Academy of America's Orlando campus had a tough challenge entering the North Florida Regional 1 tournament as they were up against the Spring 2015 National Champions from the University of Florida. Perseverance and a solid effort by all eight members of the Orlando team positioned them for a 3rd place tournament finish and a No. 14 national ranking. The team looks to build upon this success and climb the rankings as they head to Gainesville for Regionals 2 tournament.

It's no surprise how well the teams from Golf Academy of America have been performing at the regional and national levels. Students come to campus each day with a passion for golf and a willingness to sharpen their golf game. The teams have been prepared for the rigors of the NCCGA through the weekly tournaments and annual competitions included in their golf curriculum.

Will the Golf Academy of America club teams rise in the rankings? Follow our updates on Facebook, join the conversation on Twitter, and keep up with us on Instagram!


Our PGA Professionals Name Their Favorite Golf Training Aids

Our five campuses are home not only to experienced faculty, but also to some of the latest golf technology. The equipment is used to improve the playing abilities of the student body and to educate them on the golf swing so that they, in turn, can pass their expertise on to others. From simple tools to advanced software, we asked four of our Golf Academy of America instructors to tell us about their favorite training aids to improve your golf game, and here's what they had to say:

Tim Eberlein, Phoenix Campus Director


  • Trackman – The technology and information this system provides is very beneficial for an instructor. Trackman provides instant feedback to the instructor and student on swing, as well as video. It will track over 24 different analysis points. Trackman is perfectly suited for custom club fitting, as well as statistical analysis of club path, spin rates and launch angles, in addition to numerous other factors.
  • V1 Video Analysis Software – This video system allows the instructor to view a student's swing from three positions, watch in normal speed or slow motion, and allows the ability to pause at certain points for analysis. The student's swing can be compared to a golf professional's swing and the entire lesson can be saved for the student to view from home.

Brad Kirkman, Myrtle Beach Campus Instructor and National Director of Golf Instruction

Eyeline Putting Mirror

  • Eyeline Putting Mirror – This device helps with alignment and set up, enabling the user to check eyeline, shoulder alignment and putter face alignment.
  • Impact Ball – Simply put the ball between your forearms and swing away. The act of keeping the ball between your forearms cures many issues with your arms and body.
  • EZ Plane Swing Trainer – This device is a dual-end flashlight held around the grip to show your shaft plane throughout the swing.
  • Balance Rod – Simply stand on the rod and you will be able to feel where your weight is distributed throughout the swing.
  • DST Club – This club is made with a curved shaft so that in order to generate a proper strike, your hands must be ahead of the clubhead at impact. This encourages forward shaft lean and leads to crisper contact.

Brad Turner, Orlando Campus Director

Eyeline Putting Mirror

  • Fiberglass Alignment Sticks – You can buy these at your local hardware store or golf retail outlet. They have multiple uses, such as general alignment, swing path, swing plane, ball flight, etc.
  • Swing glove (Rick Smith design) – Improves left wrist position throughout the swing. It helps the golfer avoid scooping at impact, which makes it particularly effective for the wedge game.
  • Swing Extender – This aid helps train the player to widen his or her arc on the backswing, leading to greater power.
  • Balance Rod – Simply stand on the rod and you will be able to feel where your weight is distributed throughout the swing.
  • Chalk Line – Another incredibly simple and inexpensive tool that can be found at the hardware store, this is meant to be set up on a short, straight putt on a putting green to help the player visualize the proper line to the hole, as well as putter path.

Rich Iorio, – San Diego Campus Director

Foot Wedge

  • Tour Striker – Designed by top instructor Martin Chuck, this special club has a small face that is higher up than normal golf clubs. It forces players actually hit down on the ball in order to make successful contact.
  • Foot Wedge – No, it's not the one you're thinking of. This Foot Wedge helps reduce swaying and centers your swing by helping keep the player's weight on the insides of his or her feet. It is also useful for chipping and pitching.
  • Smash Bag/Impact Bag – These circular impact bags lie on the ground. They have many different uses, but the main one is to imitate impact without the player needing to make a full swing. The idea is to improve the player's impact position by promoting a forward leaning shaft.
  • Form Grip/Grip Trainers – These pre-formed training grips affix permanently to a club or dowel to train a player how to place his or her hands on the club. DaBat – This training aid is made of aluminum and shaped like a miniature baseball bat. This aid teaches proper forearm rotation/release through impact.

Featured Class: Sports Psychology

Featured Class: Sports Psychology

There's plenty to learn about golf when you're not on the green. That's why our rigorous academic program ensures that graduates have left no stone unturned — on or off the golf course.

In the sports psychology class at Golf Academy of America, students learn to analyze the psychological aspects of playing, teaching, coaching and training golfers of all ages and abilities. The class meets for one hour and 50 minutes, once a week, for 15 weeks.

Scott DeVaux, a Class A member of the PGA of America, teaches sports psychology the Myrtle Beach campus, where he has been on faculty since 2006. He was a 2006 Carolinas PGA Section Teacher of the Year nominee and was named Carolinas Section Junior Golf Leader that same year.

DeVaux says that sports psychology is a challenging yet rewarding course for Golf Academy of America students.

"I especially feel anyone who wants to be a golf instructor or a coach should be mandated to take at least one sport psychology course," he says. "A huge part of teaching and coaching golf — or any sport, for that matter — is preparing athletes mentally for the game."

Topics covered in the course include motivation, goal setting, self-confidence and coping skills for stress and anxiety. DeVaux firmly believes that by trying to relate these topics to situations that occur when the student plays, or to how they can use these skills in a golf environment, they can be better prepared for challenges that may arise.

The students absolutely concur. Among the benefits of the class, they cite gaining the awareness and ability to control actions on and off the course, in addition to understanding how emotions play a role in the game and how different personality types handle those emotions, which is especially critical for those wanting to teach the game to others.

What Students Can Learn in Sports Psychology Class at Golf Academy of America:

  • Motivational theory as it applies to sport
  • Self-efficacy and confidence, and their impact on performance
  • The relationship between attention/concentration and performance
  • The Inverted "U" hypothesis as it applies to anxiety and intensity management
  • The goal setting process, and how goal setting can help with motivation and overall performance
  • Beneficial tools to use for coping strategies and psychological skills training (self-talk, relaxation techniques, imagery, etc.)
  • Aspects of an effective leader and leadership theory
  • Characteristics of staleness/burnout and how to prevent it


Golf Academy of America graduate and U.S. Marine Eric Jordan makes transition to assistant golf pro

Eric Jordan

In many ways, golf is a deceptive game. To the outsider, it seems pretty straightforward — after all, how hard can it be to hit a ball that isn't even moving as in baseball or racket sports? Those people are mistaken. Playing golf competently is difficult, but starting from scratch in the industry, moving through the ranks and forging a promising career is an arduous task. Success in the golf industry requires immense passion for the game and equally demands a large measure of raw work ethic.

Sounds like the perfect second act for a U.S. Marine, doesn't it?

It's no wonder that 26-year old Eric Jordan, an alumnus of the Myrtle Beach campus currently finds himself in a rewarding position near one of golf's great destinations: Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Jordan is an assistant golf professional at Knollwood Fairways & Driving Range in Southern Pines. Knollwood Fairways isn't mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Pinehurst No. 2, Pine Needles and Mid Pines — it's a blue-collar golf facility through and through, and Jordan loves working there. It's a nine-hole, par-35 layout that measures a sporty 2,500 yards from the longest set of tees.

Whereas some larger facilities tend to pigeonhole their employees, Jordan's job at Knollwood Fairways is more immersive.

"I teach, help with clinics, fit clubs, do club repair and help customers," he says. And that's just the way he likes it.

"I knew I wanted to be a real golf pro," says Jordan. "And when I say that, I mean I didn't want to be the guy who stood behind the counter and folded sweaters and took in green fees. I want to teach people, fit clubs, do club repairs. At the job I have now, I do all of those things."

But it required a lot of sweat equity after graduation just to get Jordan to where he is now. His first post-grad position was with outside operations at the popular Tobacco Road Golf Club, located just north of Pinehurst in Sanford, North Carolina. There, Jordan's fascination with golf cart fleet management came in handy, among numerous other skills he acquired in his 16 months at Golf Academy of America.

His experience since then has reinforced what he has known all along: That no matter what you do, hard work pays off. When asked what advice he would give current and future students, Jordan first recommends beginning one's job search during the third of four semesters.

"Do not wait until graduation to find a job; be proactive," he says. "Also, be realistic and know that you may not land your dream job right out of college. You may have to pull your time running carts for 30 hours a week, but stick to it."