Rich Jones, Teaching & Coaching
Rich Jones was already a successful PGA Director of Golf/Head Professional with years of experience when he realized that he wanted to alter the trajectory of his career to focus on teaching & coaching. He prepared himself for the change by learning about learning, and found an ideal situation by embracing an unusual opportunity.
Jones earned his PGA Membership in 1996, working his way up to PGA Director of Golf and Head Professional at Pine Ridge Golf Club, Coram, New York – a semi-private course operated by Billy Casper Golf. Along the way, Jones realized that while he enjoyed running the golf operation, his true passion was teaching the game.
“That’s when I started seeing the business from a different perspective,” Jones says. “When you want to be a head professional, you know you’re going to spend a lot of time on administrative things, staffing issues and putting out fires. If teaching is your passion, those start to become headaches.”
Always fascinated by the learning process and teaching juniors, Jones decided to work toward a master’s degree in adolescent education, which included spending time in high school classrooms and learning the latest research into how people absorb information.
“I knew if I had my master’s in education, I’d know different strategies for learning,” Jones says. “I thought this was essential to be able to brand myself as a teacher – not just knowing the golf swing, but carving out a route where I was an expert in education.”
Jones was presented with an opportunity to focus on teaching last year when Golf Galaxy asked if he would oversee indoor instruction at a new store they were opening near Pine Ridge. After talking with management at Billy Casper Golf, a unique arrangement was created: Jones would become PGA Director of Instruction at the Jones Golf Academy at Pine Ridge, teaching there at least two days each week and overseeing all coaching at the facility. He also started teaching indoors at Golf Galaxy, and in summer operates a Jones Golf Academy at Gull Haven, a nearby nine-hole facility.
By pursuing his passion for teaching, Jones was ready when opportunity knocked, and is now able to work with students at three separate locations – and focus on what inspires him.
“If I don’t prepare myself for the next level, I’m not going to be ready when that call comes,” Jones says. “Now I teach all day, every day, and I’m still excited at the end of the day. The PGA is a great resource for education and career services, and they helped me get my resume together and steer me toward things I should be thinking about.
“We all get busy, and you can get lost with where you want to be. But you can find the situation that’s best for you – just figure out your expertise and work toward it.”
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