Dennis Sales Golf & The New Era of Golf Coaching

Dennis Sales Golf & The New Era of Golf CoachingI don’t even know where to begin… this guy has so many talents I don’t even know where to start. This guy is a friend first. Granted, we always end up talking about golf but that is what happens when you put two obsessed golfers in the same room. I also have to mention he lives in the smallest state in the country. It takes, oh, two hours to go from one corner to the next! But that is beside the point. This guy is a member of the Golf Business Network, which is where we first met. We have stayed friends ever since, and when I started to do these teaching professional interviews; I knew I had to add him to the list. It’s been a long time coming, but it is my pleasure to introduce you to Dennis Sales. Let him introduce you to a new era of golf coaching.

Dennis, you and I have been friends for a long time. I blame golf! I am glad that we finally have the chance to sit and talk about golf. I haven’t done very many of these golf pro interviews, but I have done a few. I have worked with Jason Sutton, Brett Packee… a few others. Are you excited to join that list of teaching professionals?

Are you kidding me? I’m absolutely honored to be a part of this list. Jason and Brett are two of the top teaching professionals in the business. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to be associated with them.

You are a Golf Business Network member. How has that organization helped you grow over the years?

I can’t say enough about them and Lorin Anderson. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for them, I would not be the position I’m in now. They have been so instrumental in helping me get to where I am today.

You are based out of Rhode Island. That’s a VERY small state. Is there a lot of competition out there on the east coast?

The combination of a small state and short season creates a bit of competition around here. I don’t mind it because it forces you to stay on top of your game.

You use TrackMan, K-VEST… how do these technologies enhance a lesson?

They provide an incredibly accurate assessment of the swing by breaking down the complexity of the motion. The more data that is collected the easier it is to provide the student a plan for improvement. They also aid in accelerating the learning process by providing feedback during practice sessions.

Let’s say I schedule a lesson with you. What’s that first lesson look like?

I’ll have the student answer a few questions. I want get a better idea of their knowledge of the swing and what they are trying to accomplish. Then we go through an detailed swing analysis and figure out which is the best way to go. That differs from student to student based on their goals and commitment to the process.

Do you do a lot of playing lessons?

I’ve incorporated playing lessons into my coaching programs. Coaching programs offer golfers more of a holistic approach to improving then lessons do. Last time I played golf; I had to hit a variety of different shots and encountered various situations that golfers need to learn about. That doesn’t happen on the lesson tee… only on the golf course.

Do you still get to play a lot of golf?

Outside of playing lessons, I play a lot of golf on par 3 courses. Would you call that playing golf? Some people I talk to don’t call that golf. I guess its cause you can’t hit driver? I love playing those… it really works on the essential scoring clubs.  I tell my students this all the time, “If you can’t shoot under par on a par 3 golf course, how do you expect to do that on a regulation length course?”

On your website, I can book a free consultation. What all does that entail?

That consultation gives us a chance to talk face to face. I find it real important to meet and discuss the unique programs I offer, mainly because so many golfers don’t really understand what I can provide them. So this consultation helps us understand each other better and helps me to point them in the direction they should go in.

You have embraced social media, that’s for sure. I love it! You blog, and are on Facebook and Twitter. You are even on YouTube! How do these social media solutions help you reach your audience? What is your favorite social media site?

Well I have to start by thanking you! You turned me onto this social media thing and at the beginning I thought it was more of a chore than anything else. Now social media has been a launching pad for my brand of coaching. Slowly and steadily it has helped put my brand in front of people. Picking a favorite is a tough one but if I had to pick one, Twitter would be my favorite.

Starting with your driver, and working your way through the putter… even the golf ball, what’s in your bag? (Considering you carry a Nike golf bag, I assume you play Nike golf equipment.)

I’m a big Nike guy… always have been and always will be. The problem I have is being left handed. We as lefties don’t always get the same options as right handed players. That’s the reason why I currently don’t play their irons. I wanted to play a set of blades and they didn’t have anything left handed when I got a new set.

  • Driver – I go back and forth between a Nike SQ Tour and Taylor Made R460
  • 3 Wood – Nike SQ 13°
  • Irons – Mizuno mp32 irons 3-pw (waiting for the new Nike VR irons)
  • Wedges – Nike VR pro 52°, 56°, and 60° wedge
  • Putter – Coutour Dornoch 34″
  • Ball – Nike One Tour D

You are known for saying, “If you don’t test, it’s just a guess”. Does that apply to things outside of golf? 

I think it happens everywhere and I’ll use the medical field as an example. Let’s say you go to the ER because of abdominal pain. They have a procedure in place right when you walk through that door, don’t they? Each step taken provides them with more and more information that eliminates possible causes. They don’t do much with you until all that information gathered is processed. All those steps assist them in taking a better course of action. I for one don’t think any of us would like to get cut open before they start asking questions do you? So, I basically do the same thing when I get a new student. Need a better understanding of what they do before making changes to anything.

What’s your lowest round? What course was it?

My lowest score I’ve shot was a 65. I shot that to win a New England Pro Tour event at Crystal Lake Golf Club in Mapleville, Rhode Island.

Are you TPI certified?

Yes, I am. I have found their training curriculum to be an eye opening experience. They provided me with greater understanding on how the body and swing are connected. It’s nearly impossible to change a swing fault when it’s directly related to a limitation. Now I’ll attack a particular swing fault differently especially when I know it’s because of a deficiency in the body.

Is there a lot of competition in what you do? How do you rise above the other competition in your area?

We are such a small state that students can access any teacher if they choose to drive for 30 minutes. I try to separate myself from the rest by staying on top of current training methods, different programs and offering cutting-edge technology.

You are surrounded by golf… do you still watch golf on TV? Who is your favorite player?

I like watching the majors and FedEx Cup. Tiger Woods is my favorite player, so when he is playing… I’m certainly watching those events.

You are a “certified” coach. What does that mean? Are there coaches out there that are not certified?

It’s a Dr. Rick Jensen training program. His training program was completely different than anything else I’ve taken. It didn’t have anything to do with technical side of the golf swing. It was more about learning the science behind golf coaching, skill acquisition, establishing training plans and how to help players perform better on the golf course.

You went to Cumberland High School. You live in Cumberland, Rhode Island. You are from Cumberland, Rhode Island. Is there a Cumberland Golf Club? What’s with the name Cumberland?

Sorry to say we don’t have a Cumberland Golf Club here in Rhode Island. It does have a nice ring to it though. Hopefully one day we will get one. I’ll have to look into the name more and will get back to you on that.

Tell me a little bit more about 7 Nights At The Twitter Academy.

This was a Jason Helman concept. He wanted to get a group of teaching professionals together to share their information through Twitter. Now that the first series is complete, I think it was a huge success.

You are a Hank Haney Pro 1 Associate Instructor. Have you had the chance to work with Hank?

I have not had an opportunity to work with Hank Haney. I’ve meet and talked to him at the PGA Show but that’s about it. One of these days I want to head to his place and spend some time with him.

You have a newsletter on your website. How often do you send that out?

Not as often as I should. I’m trying to send one out every month this year. Staying on top of the newsletter is something I’m planning to stay on top of this coming year.

You have a Swinkey… what a great training aid. What color is yours? Mine is pink!

Mine is white! Got to support the AimPoint SwinkeyGolf!

In your opinion, how important is junior golf? It seems that has been a big focus lately.

It has been and it should be. They are the future of our game. We need to do more in not only getting juniors to play but stay with it. That starts out by how and who is training them. The concept of sending out the least experienced professional has to stop. Juniors need the best of the best training them. Then and only then will we have started to rebuild what has been lost. Best advice I can give parents would be to research junior programs and find somebody that specializes in juniors.

Oh man… you are AimPoint certified. What was that process like? Do you make more putts now?

Don’t even know where to start with that one. I will say this though… it was the most intensive training I’ve been through. Having John Graham help me before attending the certification school was a huge help. Would you say averaging 27 putts per round this year is making more putts? I would, especially if you had played golf with me before.

It snows out there on the east coast. Do you get cabin fever during the winter?

It really has not been all that bad. I usually do a lot of traveling to attend seminars and spend time shadowing some great teachers. So I really don’t get to deal that much with the cold weather. This year is a bit different though. I have opened a indoor training facility but luckily we have had a unbelievably warm season so far. Only snow we have had was back in October.

What is the D-Plane?

It describes the physics behind the collision between the clubs path and face direction.  Those two factors create the ball flight we all chase. Understand exactly what happens at impact makes learning to control the flight of the ball easier. This in my opinion, should be required training for all teachers and players!

There is a list out there… the top 100 teachers. Does that list mean anything? Do you think these pros get more lessons? Can they charge more being on the list?

It’s a very impressive list to be on if you ask me. I’m sure those who are on that list get a few more lessons and get to charge a little bit more for lessons.

Tiger has been struggling for the last two years… as a teacher, not as a fan of the game, what would you change if he called and said, “Dennis… fix my swing.” How would you help get him back on top?

We all know he has had knee issues and surgeries. What we don’t know is how much it really bothers him. Figuring out how much that bothers him is the first thing we would look at. From there we would be able to generate a plan to get him back to where he was. The very first thing we would work on would be getting his short game particularly his putting back. He used to make everything he looked at, especially when he needed it most.

Have you ever had a hole in one?

I’ve came close plenty of times, but nothing has falling in the hole for me.

What’s next for Dennis Sales Golf… what does 2012 look like?

You know I can’t reveal my plans for all to see but 2012 is going to be a great year. This I will reveal. June through August I’ll be with Jeff Ritter at Pebble Beach doing Nike Junior Golf Camps. This is going to be one great experience for juniors and myself. I can’t wait.

Dennis, thank you so much for taking the time to sit and talk with me. It means the world buddy. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.

I’m hoping to leave my mark in junior golf and make my family proud of what I’ve accomplished. Everything I’ve studied and purchased was specifically to aid in their development. Slowly and steadily the good word is spreading to the masses. I just got to keep plugging away and let things I can’t control fall as they fall. Ricky, I have to say thank you for all your help. You have been so instrumental in guiding me to spread the word through social media platforms. I know I still have a long way to go in catching you, but I’ll be working on it!

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