I have known Rick for a few years, and always look forward to seeing him at the Golf Business Network summits and the PGA Merchandise Show. Rick is also a HUGE Tiger Woods fan, so we never run out of things to talk about. Rick is also obsessed with the growth of the game, and is a U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Teacher. His passion for the game, and for junior golf is obvious, and just in short conversation with Rick you can appreciate and respect his focus on the game of golf. Rick is a great person, and is someone I am honored to consider a friend. When I was getting close to 400 interviews, I was curious who would mark this milestone. I posted to Twitter, and Rick showed interest. It makes sense… I have been wanting to interview him for a long time. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to one of the best teachers in the Midwest… Mr. Rick Grayson.
My name is Ricky. That is what it says on my birth certificate. Is your real name Richard or Ricky?
My full name is William Fredrick Grayson. William for one grandfather and Fredrick for the other. My mom loved the name Rick!
What is your first memory of the game?
I remember playing with my mom and dad when I was 6 years old.
Some people call it a sport. Some call it a hobby. I call it a lifestyle. What does the game of golf mean to you?
Golf is the greatest game of all. It teaches us so much of what is important in life… things like honesty, integrity, hard work. That, and the best people on earth are found on a golf course!
You are a U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 kids teacher. How important is junior golf to the growth of this game?
I will sum it up in a quote I use every day: “Junior golf is the future. Without it there is no future!”
The Rick Grayson Golf School is located at the Rivercut Golf Course in Springfield, Missouri. What sort of technology do you have at the golf school?
We have a Casio high speed camera, Swing View Pro software, Tomi, the PING app, and OptiShot.
Do you ever do playing lessons with your students?
Yes, with players that have a idea of what they are trying to achieve on the range. Once they have that, it is time to put it to the test on the golf course.
I am Tiger’s biggest fan. But you are also a big fan of his. In your honest opinion, do you think he will break Jack’s record? Why or why not?
Yes. It is hard to bet against the guy. I would have never thought this would have happened to him. He is his own worst enemy. Go play and QUIT THINKING ABOUT YOUR SWING.
Rivercut looks like a great golf course. There are also homes on the golf course. Do you live on the course?
Yes, but on Fremont Hills Country Club. The homes at Rivercut were just being built.
How often do you get out there and play?
Only about 10 times a year. I hit balls several times a week.
What is the best round you have ever shot?
I shot a 67 in college and fired a 30, 6 under for 9 when I was in high school.
Have you ever had a hole-in-one?
One time… a broken clock is right twice a day!
I hate to practice. I would rather play. For a guy that can only play on the weekends, how often do you think I should practice?
You know your focus; make sure you practice in short spurts, for you, never more than 15 minutes on one area.
There is a trend in golf right now. A lot of guys are getting out of teaching and moving more toward coaching. Is there a difference? Are you a teacher or a coach?
Both. I really don’t know how you can separate the two.
How important is fitness?
Fitness is huge. It is more important for golfers over the age of 40. The young players need it, but the body really starts to show tightness after 40.
Tell me a little bit more about your book Inspire Junior Golf.
It has been called the “definitive book on junior golf”. There has never been a book to explain how to conduct junior programs and why this will change the face of the game. The book is a must for professionals, high school coaches; PE teachers, parks and recreation people… anyone that works with kids. Let’s get the game on the same level as soccer, where kids start to play at 3 and 4. I am so excited about the book, I know it will change the way people conduct junior programs!
You do weekend golf schools and corporate golf schools. How do those differ from a lesson?
Weekend schools are more of a blend of students that are different handicaps and skills and before the class really don’t know each other, in the corporate school; it is usually people that work for the same company or at least now each other.
There is a list of the top 100 instructors. In your opinion, who is the best instructor in the game of golf?
Wow, talk about putting me on the hot spot! I love the method Butch Harmon teaches and the way he teaches. I love the work of Henry Bruton in Canada, but the best instructor is probably a person we haven’t ever heard of that does incredible work with high handicaps golfers on a local level or someone that has changes a student life.
Do you watch a lot of golf on TV?
Yes, and love it.
Out of the four majors, which one is your favorite?
What is Golf Fore Fun?
The first and only game that teaches golf skills, rules, equitee and fitness to juniors in a fun way. A outdoor game that is a must if you want to improve your junior program. The game can be played by 4 juniors or 100 juniors at the same time. Juniors can really learn all the tools that they use on a golf course in an exciting way.
I see you at all of the big golf shows. From the PGA Merchandise Show to the GBN summits… you are all over the place. How does being a member of GBN help you as an instructor?
If you want to be the best , you should learn from the best and the best are members of GBN.
What does the Connie Morris Golf Learning Center offer that the Rick Grayson Golf School doesn’t?
The Connie Morris Learning Center is the building that I teach out of. It is the home of Rick Grayson Golf Instruction.
Golf is hard. From tee to green, a player can hit a lot of different shots. For the average player, what is the hardest shot in golf?
The driver… keeping the ball in play.
Golf 2.0 is supposed to revolutionize the golf industry. Have you been paying much attention to Golf 2.0? Do you see value in it?
I see a value and I try to read what is being discussed, but I would love to go and listen to the entire presentation before I can really make a comment.
I hear you like Elvis. My dad is a HUGE Elvis fan. Did you ever get the chance to see him live?
I saw him on March 2, 1974 at 1:00 PM at the Maybe Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
You are using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to help brand your golf school. How important is the use of social media in your everyday marketing efforts?
I will see once the book and the game are available, but I know this is the future.
There are a lot of rules in golf. When I play, I like to play “winter rules”. If we were playing a round, would you let me roll the ball to improve my lie and take those short putts for par?
Sure, if that is how you like to play that way doesn’t mean that I will, but that is the beauty of the game.
What is SNAG?
SNAG stands for “starting new at golf”. Juniors learn with oversized clubs and balls.
You gave lessons to Alice Cooper. Tell me about that lesson. He’s a pretty good golfer, too.
He was in Springfield, Missouri for a concert and his manger called and set it up. He was a great guy. He is nothing like you see on stage. He invited me to come to Phoenix and play some golf with him. He was great; very kind when someone wanted an autograph or a picture.
How far do you hit your driver?
350 in my dreams and about 250 in real life!
Golf is not cheap. How can someone who doesn’t have a big budget still enjoy the game?
I think par 3 courses are going to be huge in the future… with great short game practice areas. This can reduce the costs of a green fee and the short game area lets the person practice at a reduced rate.
You have written several books. Where does that process start? How long does it take to go from a concept to a finished product?
Inspire Junior Golf took only about 2 months to go from thoughts to paper. I think about ideas all the time, in fact I wish I didn’t, that way I could focus on one thing a time. I love writing, even if I am the worst typer and speller in the world.
You work with a lot of juniors. How important of a role do the parents play in the success of a junior golfer?
The role is huge… they are the coach away from the coach. I have the parents listen to every lesson and after the lesson, the parent tell me what the junior needs to improve on. I tell the junior that is the only thing the parent is allowed to instruct on is the topics we covered in the lesson, nothing else.
Tell me more about your Advanced Golf Schools.
It is for student that came to the two day and what to refine the finer points of their game. We cover more course stagey and more mental areas and work with them on a personal practice plan.
I haven’t carried a handicap in a few years. Do you think a weekend golfer should worry about what he or she shoots?
If that is why you play, no handicap is needed. People play for different reasons. Relax, play golf; it doesn’t matter if you have a handicap. Be with friends and family… that is the best part of golf.
Is it hard to give lessons to someone who is left-handed?
When you have taught for 35 years, left handed is not a problem at all. In fact I enjoy it, because it is a change from 10 lessons a day right handed.
What is next for Rick Grayson? Do you have any big plans this summer?
I am teaching for the PGA in July with one of my idols, Gary Wiren and hoping to do speaking engagement about growing the game. I am starting Little League Golf in June and that is exciting.
Rick, I could ask you questions all day. I can’t thank you enough for doing this. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Well, golf is in a tough sport, we haven’t been growing golfers for decades and we are paying a price for it. We have lost over 2.3 million juniors since 2006 and the industry can’t keep going unless we change. It is time to make an impact and get golf in the local school, form leagues so kids can play, just like the other sports. It is time for the major companies to start promoting golf instead of paying millions for a player to wear their shirt or play their clubs. Now is the time to get involved. It doesn’t matter what you do… it can be big or small. Just DO SOMETHING !