Here is another professional I met on Twitter… that seems to be a trend for me lately. I have been chatting with this guy online for a while now, and finally had the chance to meet him at the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show. We met at the Brick House Tavern + Tap, started talking, and the time just flew by. We have stayed in close contact since, and I just knew I needed to learn more about him and his career. He is currently at The Raven Golf Club in Phoenix, working with Megan Padua, Jeff Ritter, and Martin Chuck. If there was such a thing as a “dream team” in golf instruction… it would be this. I haven’t had the chance to see him in action, but I only hear good things. He’s also pretty handy with Photoshop, and if he ever decides to give up golf, he has a future in graphic design! He’s young, loaded with talent, and has a bright future ahead of him. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to my good friend Aaron Olson.
It was great meeting you at the PGA Merchandise Show earlier this year. Do you go to the Show every year?
This year was my first trip to the Show, believe it or not! Needless to say I won’t be missing one for a while unless there’s an amazing reason not to go! The networking that goes on there is unbelievable. I met so many great people, and of course attended the @johngrahamgolf tweetup!
The weather down there is pretty awesome. It was 80… in January! But you are living in Scottsdale right now. How is the weather in the desert?
Compared to the first four winters I spent in Scottsdale, this one has been the best by far. Sunshine, high 60s and low 70s, and perfect course conditions. I’m not going to lie though, I could use a rainy Sunday once in a while!
You are all over these social media sites. You have a website, a blog, and are all over Facebook and Twitter. How do you find time to post on all of these social sites?
To be honest I don’t really feel like it’s “posting”. I like to use the word “interacting” instead. It’s an ongoing timeline of where I am, what I’m doing, and who I’m doing it with, along with my thoughts on what’s going on. I enjoy every minute of it, and hope those who follow and interact with me do as well.
I love your website design. Who did that? Speaking of design, you have been doing some stuff lately… where did you learn graphic design?
Thanks! My website is completely my own creation, besides a starter template that I chose to work with. I took all of the photos myself, edited them, did the layout, and do all of the updates. It’s always an ongoing project. My great friend Marshall Donnerbauer from http://moviestarentrepreneur.com/ got me started with my original site a year ago, and I can’t thank him enough for all of the help.
I don’t have much formal “graphic design” training. I was a computer mapping major in college, and had to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to edit and layout my projects. The rest is a few tips from Marshall, YouTube tutorials, and creative inspiration from TV, magazine, and web ads. I can’t watch a commercial or flip through GQ without finding something cool that I want to incorporate in an ad design.
Does anyone ever make fun of you for standing on the wrong side of the golf ball?
If I had a dollar for every time someone’s said that…
You’d be rich! Sorry, I had to. You have online scheduling on your website. How many of your students take advantage of that?
Almost all of them. A. It’s easy and quick for them to do. B. You get all of their information straight into your database. C. Both parties get reminders when lessons are coming up.
You are doing a lot with juniors. As a matter of fact, you are about to head to Pebble Beach for some NIKE junior golf camps with Jeff Ritter and Dennis Sales. Anyone else going out there with you?
We have quite a crew going along with us. Mike Bury, Susana Contreras, Andy Griffiths, Zach Baron, and Neely Robertson are all talented coaches joining us. Cate Munroe is our health and nutrition coach and will be joining us as well.
Have you played Pebble Beach?
I haven’t. I’ve actually never been to the area, so I’m in for quite a treat. We have the 4th of July week off from camp, and my birthday is on the 6th, so was thinking a birthday round at Pebble could be in order, but found out the Champion’s Tour event is there that week. Might just have to be a spectator.
You work with Jeff Ritter at The Raven in Phoenix. What is that like… working with one of the best in the business?
Jeff isn’t only one of the best in the business, he’s THE best in the business at the business side of golf! Between Jeff and Martin Chuck, Megan Padua and I have an amazing opportunity to be around them and learn, learn, learn. Plus they’re great people, which is probably the most important thing to me.
I know we touched on it, but you blog. What do you write about? Where do you find inspiration for a new blog post?
Not too much lately… I need to get back on point with it. I’ve gotten blog topics from Golf Channel interviews, questions from some of my students, hot PGA TOUR topics… almost anything golf, from clothing to coaching. I try not to be vague with my swing instruction topics, and to get the best information I can to help the reader’s the most with their games.
What is the Tour Striker Golf Academy?
The Tour Striker Academy was formed by Martin Chuck, inventor of the Tour Striker Training Club. It is now the Jeff Ritter Golf/Tour Striker Golf Academy, as Jeff and Martin are co-operating our academy at the Raven Golf Club – Phoenix. We are picking up steam with our practice club, junior programs, and of course individual and group instruction. Later this week we have an 11 person Tour Striker Golf School. It should be a blast.
Let’s say I wanted to take a lesson with you. What’s the first lesson like?
I know many teachers do full assessments, questionnaires and the like, but I usually get right down to it. I do like to spend some time before in an email or conversation to find out a little bit about the person’s game, goals, physical ailments, etc. Improving ball-flight straightaway is always a goal. In the future I would like to move towards program based coaching, where there’s a higher commitment level between the student/coach.
Have you ever had a hole-in-one?
I had one, 20 years ago! I was playing in Dallas, WI, with my dad and his friend. 135 yards or so, and I half skulled a 3-wood that rolled most of the way and dropped in. I was having a bad day on the course, and was being a pouty 10 year old, so I dropped my head when I thinned it and didn’t even see it go in! Just goes to show that there’s a reason why they don’t paint pictures on scorecards! Also shows you to not react negatively to golf shots, you may miss something spectacular!
Do you do a lot of playing lessons with your students?
Not a huge amount, but would love to do more. I think it keeps you sharp as a coach, talking over different lies and situations that you take for granted when you’re playing yourself. Also, it’s always interesting to see how people react on the golf course.
Your rates are public. A lot of guys, even guys like Hank Haney and Butch Harmon, publish their rates. How do you set those rates? Perhaps The Raven does…
Management set my rates. Someday soon I’ll be able to set my own!
I am Tiger’s biggest fan. Do you honestly think he will break Jack’s record?
If he stays healthy, yes. He hasn’t even been able to practice consistently for a while let alone play, so he needs some time in my opinion.
What’s the best round you have ever shot? What course did you shoot that on?
64… twice. One at Desert Mountain – Apache in Scottsdale, and the other at Wild Ridge Golf Course in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I honestly think I’ve shot 62 or 63 buzzing twice around my 3000 yard 9-holer Sioux Creek Golf Course in Chetek, WI, but don’t really count them!
You do a lot with it… but how important is junior golf?
Junior golf is extremely important! Maybe more important, however, is how it’s being taught and who teaches it. We have a large responsibility in that we are shaping the opinions of these kids as it relates to golf. If we do a poor job, and they don’t have fun and learn it the right way, then they may not pursue playing golf in their later years.
What is the All-American Program?
It’s a program we’ve designed at the JRG/TSGA that encompasses all things needed to bring a junior golfer to the highest level he or she wishes to go. Fitness, nutrition, psychology, course management, instruction, tournament prep… we left no stone unturned.
What is your current handicap?
Somewhere around scratch. Just smoothed a 68 the other day, so hopefully my game is trending for the better. I actually have some inspiration to get better right now that’s been lacking for a couple of years.
Let’s go back to Tiger for a second. Hank Haney just wrote The Big Miss. I am sure you will read it, but do you think Hank did Tiger any justice by writing it? Love the release date too… right before the Masters.
It sounds like there was no non-disclosure agreement signed when they worked together, so I have no problem with it all. I’m excited to see what’s in it. I think most people around golf are interested in hearing a few stories regarding Tiger’s work ethic, workout programs, etc. The release date is perfect for publicity!
Have you ever been to the Masters?
No. It’s on the list of sporting events that I want to go to. Definitely want to head to a Ryder Cup on foreign soil as well.
You live in Scottsdale. The Tortilla Factory is my favorite restaurant. Have you ever been there?
I haven’t, but plan on it soon! Megan and I will have to check it out.
You like to jam… what bands are you listening to these days?
I’m in a big alternative rock phase right now. There’s some cool new sounds from bands like Cage the Elephant, The Black Keys, and The Naked & Famous that are pretty cool.
Starting with your driver, and working your way all the way through your golf ball, what’s in your golf bag?
No club/ball contracts yet, but that is in the midst of changing. My bag is pretty outdated besides my TM R11 driver. Actually my grooves aren’t even legal now that I think about it!
- Driver: TM R11
- 3-wood: TM R7 TP
- Hybrid: Sonartec 21* (I call it the rocket launcher)
- 4-PW: TM R7 TP
- Wedges: TM TP 52*,56*,60*
- Putter: Odyssey 2-Ball Blade
- Ball: Orlimar 318 UC
Who is in your dream foursome?
Probably my dad and two others… doesn’t really matter as long as they’re nice people and don’t play slow!
Belly putters… should they be allowed?
I really don’t have much of an opinion on them. I say sure. If it was really that big of an advantage, wouldn’t everyone be using them?
I know it was last fall, but you were featured in an issue of Golf Infuzion Magazine. What did you write about? How did you land that opportunity?
Jeff Ritter got me the opportunity. I’ve written three articles so far, with one more on the way next month. The first one was about the importance of changing your golf spikes, and we’re now transitioning to some great junior golf stuff. It’s really exciting and I’m honored to be in a golf publication available worldwide!
You were the Assistant Men’s Golf Coach at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I would love to coach a high school or college team. What was that experience like for you?
Last winter I coached high school basketball since I stayed in Wisconsin, then coached a high school golf team in the spring, and finally got to assist with my Wisconsin Eau Claire Blugolds in the Fall. I’ve had a lot of cool things happen to me in the past year, but those two stand out the most. I’m really going to miss my team this spring when they get going in WI.
How far do you hit your driver? How far CAN you hit your driver?
I think I carry it 280ish when I’m swinging well. I really haven’t hit on a TrackMan very much, so I don’t know for sure. The fairways are pretty firm in AZ right now so I’ve hit a few downwind 340 or so.
There are four majors on the PGA TOUR. Which is your favorite and why?
I think the British Open is my favorite. Something about waking up first thing in the morning and being able to watch a major championship. Also, the courses are so different and the weather conditions can get so demanding.
What are your thoughts on the Stack & Tilt system?
Without Andy Plummer, Mike Bennett, and their friends I wouldn’t be where I am today in coaching. The way they have taught me to look at and measure golf swings is something I use everyday, and my students get better because of it. I’m fortunate to be privy to their information and am planning to do more with them in the future. I could go on all day about S & T!
Aaron, thank you so much for doing this. I could ask you questions ALL day long. I appreciate your time buddy! In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.