These PGA professional interviews are so much fun for me. There is just so much talent out there, and it’s an honor for me to meet and work with these guys. I actually met this guy in January down at the PGA Merchandise Show. I had been connected with him on Twitter for a long time, but had no idea what he looked like. When we met, it was like we had known each other for years. We have since stayed in close contact, and I love what he is doing at Stones River Country Club. I am just so excited to have him with us here today. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Rob McGill. He is a professional in EVERY sense of the word.
Oh man, I am excited for this interview. Rob, how the heck are you, buddy?
I am wonderful. Happy to be alive and doing something I love to do. Now this, an interview with you… wow, it does not get much better than this.
You are the head golf professional at Stones River Country Club. How long have you been at the club?
I began my career here as an Assistant Professional in February of 1998. In December of 2008 I was promoted to Head Golf Professional. The fortunate thing about being here at Stones River Country Club is I grew up only 2 blocks from the club. I grew up with and have been friends with most of the members here.
Since you teach at Stones River Country Club, are you allowed give lessons with non-members?
Yes, fortunately the membership is quite supportive of providing me that opportunity. With that said, I do try to balance my lesson book so that I am providing the membership the priority they deserve. My stance is such that it allows me the opportunity to promote and grow membership for Stones River Country Club. For the most part the membership is behind that stance.
You went to Middle Tennessee State University. I have to know more about your degree. I bet a lot of golf pros don’t have a degree like that!
That is crazy, huh. My addictions in life besides my family are flying, playing golf, and teaching golf. I went to MTSU and enrolled into the Professional Pilot Program. After receiving my private pilot’s license and continuing into my instrument rating it became very evident that I was not going to have the funds to complete this thing, so I changed majors to Aerospace Admin. Aerospace Admin for the most part is detailed facilities management. I have found that background very helpful.
You’re married. How did you meet your wife?
I met Glenda frequently crossing paths in her hometown. My father’s family is from the same town as hers. I was living with my grandmother to help her out while she was ill and we kept crossing paths to and from work, at gas stations, grocery stores, and various other places. We began to talk quite a bit. Finally, I asked her out. We dated for 7 years before we were married. I wanted make sure she was okay with this golf pro stuff!
Junior golf seems to be a pretty hot topic right now. Do you teach a lot of juniors?
I would say that the largest majority of my lesson book currently is juniors. In 2011, with the encouragement of John Graham and Jason Sutton, I initiated a junior program for competitive juniors. The program, Rob McGill’s Select Junior Program, enrolled 6 juniors in the first year. The number seems low but I did it individually and the cost was pretty expensive for a junior programs in my region. 2012’s version is much improved thanks to some more Twitter guidance from Jason Sutton and Jason Helman. They suggested that I do the program in groups of 3 or 4. The 12 week program will have as many as 2 groups and maybe a third this year. Plus my 12 year old, Braxton, plays golf so I better have some passion for it, huh. He follows you by the way.
Do you do playing lessons?
Yes, I love to do playing lessons. I believe many times they are a great way to get to the root of some issues. But I have found that many people who believe they strictly need a playing lesson have deeply rooted mechanical flaws. When we go out on the course it is very difficult to accomplish the things you would like in a playing lesson like shot selection, course management, mental thoughts, and scoring. I find those players gain more from guidance on the range.
Oh, by the way… Braxton said, “hi”.
Hi Braxton! Tell me a little bit more about your involvement in the 7 Nights At The Twitter Academy.
What a thrill. I gained a ton of knowledge and experience from 7 Nights At The Twitter Academy. The short of the story was John Graham’s schedule became such that he could not do it and for some odd reason suggested me. So I get a tweet from him that I need to take over for him. Not being experienced with this type of gig, I responded, “okay, but what does this entail?” Five minutes later my timeline is blowing up with “congratulations” and “welcome aboard”. Now I am thinking, I am in, now what. With great guidance from the “mastermind crew” I was able to make it happen. Specifically Jason Helman, Jason Sutton, and Sara Dickson. Those three put up with more panic calls than any one. The good news is it only took 4 takes. The response to the series was unbelievable. I had more views in 36 hours of my episode than I ever had on my YouTube channel combined. Having that many views assures me that people took notice and maybe were able to see what many of the PGA professionals have to offer them.
I love the Stones River logo. Do you have a logo?
Thank you. When I took over as head golf professional one of my first items was to get the club a new logo. Something that would give us a brand. What a process that was. When you get 10 or 12 opinions going… man the process can get going in many different directions. The goal of the logo was to bring forward our history. Our club actually sits on the site of one of the initial skirmishes of the Battle of Stones River.
I do not have a logo. I knew you would be disappointed in that answer, but my limited expertise and budget has held me back. Kind of strange because I am huge believer in the power of a well designed logo. Maybe you can help me with that!
Speaking of Stones River, you have been there for a long time. Did you teach anywhere before coming to Stones River?
I did very little coaching before coming to Stones River. I was fairly new to the business and my skills were not at that level. I was brought up in the business that one should learn how to teach and coach before jumping in. I know so many now days turn professional sign up into the program and start teaching immediately. I feel that is somewhat a disservice to our association. Coaching is a skill that needs to be learned.
Your rates are posted on your website. First off, you are VERY affordable compared to other teaching pros out there. Do you set those rates, or does Stones River tell you what to charge?
I set those rates. I will be totally honest with you on this one. I have always valued my rates to other coaches around me with similar abilities to improve players. I never wanted to overcharge my students and have them feel as if they were getting something I could not produce. With that said, in the last couple of years through networking, Twitter, other social media, and proper use of the Internet, my knowledge and ability to improve players has improved exponentially. So yes, maybe I am little low now but I feel my value is too large of a jump over my past pricing. I have plans to increase this year and make that increase in small steps.
What’s a “launch monitor” and how do you use that to better the players you work with?
A launch monitor is a tool that measures and calculates club head speed, ball speed, ball spin rate, angle of attack, and several other variables. The one I own is several levels down from a TrackMan or FlightScope. It is a viable tool for fitting players but not very functional for teaching. The use of a good launch monitor can be extremely useful for teaching. I look forward to an opportunity to have access to one of those in the future.
I am sure you have played a ton of golf. What’s the best round you have ever shot? What course?
67 is my low round and it has been several years ago. I shot that at my old club, Willowbrook Golf Club. Not a very long course, but hey you still have to make some putts.
Since you teach at Stones River, I bet you play there quite a bit. How many times a week do you get out for a round?
Unfortunately with my lesson book and my golf shop duties, my rounds are few and far between. I practice some but finding the time to play is very difficult. Especially when you have a 12-year-old who has an agenda of his own.
Starting with your driver, and working your way all the way through the golf ball, what’s in your bag?
Funny you should ask that. I just recently signed a deal with Cleveland Golf. Thank you Chris Campbell (shameless shout out).
- Driver – Cleveland Classic 290 10.5 degree, stiff shaft
- 3 wood – Cleveland Mashie 14 degree
- 2 iron (I love saying that) – 18 degree Cleveland Mashie Hybrid
- 3 iron – Cleveland Mashie 20.5 degree
- 4-PW – Cleveland 588 CB Irons with Nippon stiff shaft
- Wedges – 54, 58 degree 588 Cleveland
- Putter – 32.25 inch Coutour Muirfield
- Ball – Titliest Pro V1 with RSMIV stamp. I am the fourth you know.
I saw you down at the PGA Merchandise Show. As a matter of fact, we MET at the PGA Show. I have to tell you Rob; I thought you were some old man before I put a face to a name. But I was pleasantly surprised. It was great meeting you sir. Speaking of the Show, did you have a good time down in Orlando?
I was so pumped to get to meet you finally after some of our long conversations. The only reason you thought I was some old man was because I did not have a picture on my avatar and no guy my age would ever write a five page dissertation on an ebook review! But back to your point, the networking and the experiences that one makes at the show are invaluable.
Where did you stay while you were down there?
Did you go to demo day?
I did. First time too. I am glad I did; it was worth every minute. It was fun getting to interact with vendors and use their product first hand. Speaking of launch monitors, I loved how all of the vendors had launch monitors set up. Plus that was where I finally met Jason Sutton face to face after being friends on Twitter for almost 2 years.
There are a LOT of PGA teaching professionals out there. In your opinion, who is the best teacher in the world? (There is a DJ list of the top 100 DJs in the world. The #1 DJ is NOT the best DJ in the world in my opinion.)
Interesting question. In my opinion the top 100 reminds me quite a bit of the BCS in NCAA Football. It is not perfect or very good but it is the best we have right now. In my opinion there are probably many good teaching professionals out there. When I say good, I mean actually improve handicaps on a daily basis. These professionals provide a pathway to improvement for 95% of all the students they see. But these professionals I am speaking of have not written a book, owned an academy, and may never teach a tour professional. But they are every bit as good as the top 100 in terms of improving their students. The other side of this to me is a top teaching professional should be mentor as well. They should not take whatever it is they think they have and lock it up in vault. Why not teach it to others and let it evolve. So many these days, unfortunately, do not mentor and keep their knowledge a secret. So as for the best teacher in the world, I would do this interview injustice trying to name that person.
Now you got me thinking about music… do you listen to music when you practice/play?
I love music, but the good lord left musical traits out of my genes. I listen to several different genres of music from country (imagine that), to hip-hop (again 12-year-old), and blues. I love sitting at night on the deck in the summer after a long day and listening to a little blues. But do not ask me who… I probably have no idea. Sorry for the disappointment. No, I do not practice with music. I have tried it and it does not work for me.
There is a big shift in the golf industry happening right now. Guys are moving away from teaching and gearing toward coaching. Are you a teacher or a coach? Is there a different? If there is, what is the difference?
I feel that in the past few years I have merged or am trying to merge more into the coaching realm. To me the difference between a teacher is two-fold; 1. a teacher teaches material provides ways to learn material where a coach helps the student find the material, discover the knowledge, and guides the student to improvement. 2. Teachers are more about the process of teaching and coaches are more about building relationships. Example of this is a quote from the movie, Miracle by Herb Brooks the coach of the miracle 1980 USA Hockey Team. The very first meeting with the team, coach Brooks tells the team that I am your coach, not your friend, and if you are looking for a friend then go see the assistant coach or the doc. What he really meant was I am your teacher, not your friend.
You are a D-Plane certified instructor. What does that mean?
Yes, I am. his is a certification that @Richie3Jack came up with out of demand from his readers. So as students they would know which coaches were teaching them the proper material. To be certified you need to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the descriptive plane. Descriptive plane is a 3D way of viewing and understanding all of the variables of club head and ball impact.
You were born and raised in Murfreesboro. I have never heard of that. Heck, I can’t even pronounce that. What’s that little town like?
Murfreesboro, TN is actually a great little town with a population of 120,000 people. When I was in middle school Murfreesboro was well known to real estate agents across the United States because of our growth and housing market due to the new Nissan plant. Murfreesboro is also the geographical center of Tennessee (useless trivia). A low to moderate cost of living town but also a college town. MTSU in Murfreesboro is the second largest university in Tennessee behind UT Knoxville. Murfreesboro is a great place to raise a family.
You were selected into membership of the PGA in 2007. What was that experience like?
Unbelievable! Just knowing that all of the hard work and effort that I had put into it was being rewarded. During my apprenticeship, many changes happened in my life. I lost my father, my grandmother, I got married, and received a child. Wow. But all of that just made election day that much sweeter.
Who is your favorite golfer?
To watch play the game, Tiger Woods.
You teach Philip Pettit. He won his first professional event in 2009. Were you there for that? Do you get the chance to travel with him when he plays around the country?
What another unbelievable experience. I was not there but on the phone with him within 15 minutes of finishing. Unfortunately, I have not been to travel with him yet but did have reservations to go up in see him play when he qualified for the U.S. Open. But he did not make the cut, so that did not happen. Philip is one special guy. Amazing work ethic, outstanding friend, and a great person. Philip and I are looking at starting a foundation in the very near future.
Shugs said to say, “hi”.
Tell her I say hi. If you do not mind me saying, you have a good girl in Shugs. Just sayin…
You worked with Todd Sones last year. Tell me about that experience and what you gained from working with him.
My experience last year with Todd was actually mostly by phone. Todd is one of those coaches I was speaking of earlier. He is not afraid to mentor and provide the information to help improve players. Todd has been unbelievable in helping me understand the putting stroke. I actually had the opportunity to interact with him at the show. In addition, the Coutour Putters he designed have been a big hit at Stones River Country Club. Not just because of the product but because of the system he instills in all of his certified fitters.
You are on Facebook and Twitter. You also blog. Do you have a favorite social media network?
Twitter is a more efficient way to gain knowledge.
In your opinion, will Tiger break Jack’s record?
Let’s say I book a lesson with you. What’s that first lesson like?
More of an interview to obtain your ideas, goals, and plan of action. From there turn your ideas, plans, and goals into a strategy.
How far do you hit your driver? How far CAN you hit your driver?
I hit it 264, but CAN hit it 278.
You’re a wine guy. What’s your favorite wine? What is your favorite style?
I am a full bodied red man. My most favorite (I have only had one time) is an Opus One Cabernet. The vintage was 2006 and it was amazing to me.
You drink wine… but what about beer? What’s your favorite beer?
Beers are very seasonal for me. In the cold winter I like the heavier deeper beers. I am a huge New Belgium fan and like most anything they do. I really like a Samuel Smith but do not get those very often. In the summer, I enjoy Stella Artois and you will not believe this Tecate. We do have a local brew in Nashville I am fond of too; Yazoo.
We need to play some golf this spring. How many shots are you giving me?
I will give you what ever you think is fair and whatever we come to agreement on as two gentlemen. Did that sound like John Graham #neutral?
What color is your Swinkey? Mine is pink!
Mine is white with the Stones River Logo.
What’s next for you Rob? What do you have in store for 2012?
2012 will be a very busy year. I am hoping and preparing for a big year. I look forward to continue serving the membership and exceeding their expectations while keeping my mind open so that I can grow as a golf professional and as a family man.
Rob, I could ask you questions all day long. I can’t thank you enough for doing this. I know you’re a busy guy. That being said, in all of the interviews I do I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Wow, what a humbling experience to be interviewed by someone at top of their profession such as you. I can not thank you enough for all your help the last year or so. I am very fortunate to have met you and the members of the “mastermind crew”. Because of you people my game has elevated. I hope to one day interview you and find out what makes Ricky Lee click. I will have to include Shugs in that interview though. Thanks again. Come see me sometime!