Suzy Whaley is the President of Golf Nation, an online and connected TV/OTT channel that brings golf lifestyle and premium video together on a shoppable streaming content platform. It's currently viewed on www.golfnation.com and will launch on app this spring. As the first woman ever elected to serve as President of the PGA of America, Whaley is applying her expertise to create a more accessible, diverse, and engaging space not only in Golf but the entire sporting world. Whaley has dedicated her career to moving the Golf industry forward through a variety of roles, including Director of Instruction at the Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, a golf analyst and on-course commentator for ESPN, ESPN+, PGA Tour live, and SiriusXM. Recognized as one of the country's top business leaders in the game and a top 50 Golf Digest and top 100 Golf Magazine instructor, Whaley earned her PGA Master Professional Status in May of 2018. As a dual PGA of America and LPGA Professional member, she continues to leave a lasting impact on the sports business. She has been honored as the 2015 Sports Business Journal “Game Changer” and won the 2017 Betsy Rawls Award from the American Junior Golf Association for her service, dedication, and contributions to women’s golf, and was recently inducted in the CT Women’s Sports Hall of Fame and the CT Golf Hall of Fame.
Before a round of professional golf and competition, I wake up early to shower and have breakfast. I also stretch for 20-30 minutes before playing. I then go to the golf course, get some practice in on the range by putting first for 20 minutes and hitting golf balls second for 20 minutes. Lastly, I practice the first three tee shots that I'll be hitting during the round. Transcript: "My game day routine prior to a round of professional golf and a competition, I go something like this. Let's say I have a morning tea time. If I have a morning tea time, I'm going to get up a good couple of hours before that tea time. The reason for that is obviously I'm going to shower. I need to have breakfast. I'm going to stretch for probably 20 minutes to 30 minutes prior to play. And then I want to get to the golf course, give myself plenty of time to park. Understand the facilities know where I'm headed, Get to the range and typically I putt first before a round of golf for about 20 minutes and then I hit golf balls second for 20 minutes. Not everybody does it that way. A lot of people actually go to the range first and then put second. I do the opposite because my very first shot that I'm going to be hitting during the round is a long shot, not a putt. So I like to go straight from the range to the first heat. And when I'm on the range, I like to practice the first three tee shots that I'll be hitting. So I feel like I've already done them and I can imagine doing them. So that's typically my routine, whether it's morning or afternoon, afternoon, it's just a couple of changes in there where I'm going to grab something to eat beforehand, or I'm going to pack myself something in my golf bag, depending on what my tea time is. But same, same warm up, same everything else that I do in the morning."
My teaching philosophy is to treat every student as a partner and teach based off of biomechanics. This allows me to help my students perform the best they can while still allowing them to have their own unique swing. Transcript: "I think there's a few aspects to my teaching philosophy that I think are important and that have created a successful environment for me and for my students. I consider every single one of my students a partner of mine. I am in it with them. I want to help them achieve their goals. It's not an in and out for me. It's not a one-off for me when somebody takes a lesson from me. I take it very seriously and I'm honored when somebody chooses to spend time with me to make them better at something they love. And so that for me is a responsibility and something that I cherish. I also think one of my teaching philosophies that is important to me is I teach based off biomechanics, meaning that I try to understand what a person's body is capable of doing in the function of the swing so that I can help them perform the very best that they possibly can without giving them motion that their body is unable to perform. So not everybody's going to look the same on my T-top. Everybody's probably going to look a little bit different and have a little different golf swing. But you see that on the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour now. Very few swings look the same. Many of them are effective and my teaching philosophy follows that model."
Growing up in a household where mistakes were not scolded, allowed me to take on challenges and risks with a growth mindset. This allowed me to take part in the Greater Hartford Open PGA Tour event, becoming the first woman in 58 years to qualify for it. Taking the risk created many opportunities and opened many doors, which I'm glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it. Transcript: "I've taken a lot of risks in my career, but I have to go back to when I was young. I grew up in a family that didn't scold me when I made a mistake, didn't make me feel horrible if I failed at something. So I was never fearful of failure. Instead, I took on challenges and I did that because we didn't have participation trophies in my house. We weren't told we were great all the time when we weren't. We certainly weren't made to feel poorly when we did poorly, but it was more of a learning and growing. It was more of a growth mindset in my household. So we always wanted a new challenge. We always wanted to try something, to try to get a little better at it. I believe that's the reason in my career and as I became an adult, I took on things that were out of my comfort zone. I took on risks. I think it's so important to do that. You have to surround yourself with incredible people when you take on a risk, which is certainly what I did when I played in the Greater Hartford Open, a PGA Tour event as the first woman in 58 years to qualify for that. It was being played in front of 40 million people around the world and here I was, a mom, a head golf professional taking on the best male athletes in the world. But taking on that risk created so many opportunities for me and opened so many doors that I'm certainly thrilled I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it."
The key to scoring better in golf is to improve your ball striking and impact, as well as keeping stats and understanding your own metrics. Transcript: "What is the key to scoring better in golf? I mean, this answer should be like, I don't know, an hour long. If I had a magic wand that had the answer at the end of it, I would be a billionaire. So I'm gonna try to tackle this in a way that makes sense for everybody, especially for the person who asked this question. So there's an old adage that says, dry for show, puff for dough. However, analytics has proved that wrong. Now that there's so many tracking and technology systems out there, we know the best ball strikers in the world are actually the best players in the world. So is it really the putter that makes you be the best scorer in golf? Or is it your ball striking? I would say, of course, it's a mixture of both for the amateur player and for the professional player. I would say for sure, it is ball striking one, and then putting comes after that. So number one, improve your ball striking, improve your center face strikes. If you always hit a fade, or if you always hit a draw, go back to Harvey Pinnock. Okay, why would you change that? But the center face strike is what's giving you consistency, and that center face contact is gonna give you a longer strike. So work very simply and easily on first and foremost, center face strikes and impact. And then if you need to make a path correction, you can do that as well. Scoring wise, I want you to start keeping some stats, download an app on your phone, which allows you to understand your metrics while on course and while playing, and where your best case for improvement lies based on those algorithms. I think it will help you greatly and improve your scores really quickly."
After leaving the LPGA Tour, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be trained and mentored by two of the greatest coaches and teachers in golf, Bob Toski and Jim Flick. I had the chance to work with some of the best instructors in the game, such as Martin Hall, Mike Valeska, Dean Ryan, Laird Small, Charlie Gaspard, Mark Wood, and Cathy Wood. I still love teaching and coaching people to succeed on the course, and find joy in watching others succeed. Transcript: "So as a professional athlete, I 100% coach at this time. I was first a player on the LPGA Tour. And when I left the tour, I was fortunate enough to be trained and mentored by Bob Toschi and Jim Flick, two of the greatest coaches and teachers in golf that have ever been. And I had the opportunity to work for them for a year under the guidance of people like Martin Hall, Mike Molaska, Dean Rymeth, Laird Small, Charlie Epps, Mark Wood, Kathy Wood. For those of you in the golf space, very acclaimed names today, all top 50 and top 100 instructors. I still passionately love to teach the game. I find great empowerment and happiness in helping other people succeed. And that's what coaching allows you to be a part of. So I love being a player. I'm still a competitive player, but at the same time, I get just as much energy and joy out of watching others succeed on the course."
To improve your golf game, try two drills. The first drill is to make golf swings with your feet together to center the body and help develop tempo. The second drill is to draw a line in sand or grass and set up with the club on the line. Swing and try to hit the line or slightly in front of it. This will help you become a better golfer by allowing you to hit the ground in the same place every time. Transcript: "I could ask this question a lot for some drills to improve somebody's golf game. There's thousands of drills to improve your golf game, but I think you need two that I think improve almost any mistake within the game. Realize I said almost any mistake within the game. But the first one would be to make golf swings with your feet together. It will feel very awkward, but what it's there to do is to make you centered, to allow your arms to swing up and down, and allow your body to turn right and left during the swing. So let me repeat that. Feet together, tilted over in a golf posture, meaning that you're pretending you're going to hit a golf ball with your feet together. Your arms work up and down as your body turns to the right and to the left based on whether you're a right-handed player or you're a left-handed player. It's going to center you, it's going to teach you tempo, and it's going to teach you how to find the ground in the same place every time. The second drill would be to draw a line in sand or in grass that you can see in the middle of your feet. I want you to set up to that line with the club on the line. I want you to take your golf stance, and I want you to swing and try to hit the line or slightly in front on the left side of the line as a right-handed player, on the right side of the line as a left-handed player. When you can hit the ground in the same place every time, you will become a better golfer, no matter your swing speed, no matter your style."