For the last few years, teaching pro Alex Vezey has been giving golfers of all abilities lessons both indoors and outdoors. But when the pandemic struck, he was forced to alter his traditional approach and embrace virtual lessons. Thankfully, he and his clients had access to Golfzon Driving Range (GDR) technology, which helped Alex continue giving lessons virtually with immediate feedback to continue helping golfers of all levels achieve their goals.
: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your background as a golf instructor
ALEX : I’ve been teaching since 2013-2014. Before that I was playing professionally on the European Challenge Tour, but had to have leg surgery, rehabbed, then had a setback and couldn’t play for about a year. And when you’re out of professional golf for that long it’s just really tough to make it all the way back. Then I went to Leadbetter Academy for a year where I learned instruction from Jonathan Yarwood. Then I started helping some fellow pros as I could see things in their golf swings that others couldn’t.
: What are the benefits of giving lessons in a Golfzon simulator?
ALEX : One thing I love about the Golfzon system and virtual lessons is we can use the hydraulic swing plate to adjust a swing plane or work on uneven lies. It’s multifunctional and the students really enjoy that aspect. Also, by seeing the numbers (e.g. spin rates, clubhead speed, etc.) can really help students understand their swing and why they’re seeing various results. And when they see the numbers and immediate response, it’s easier to set goals and work toward them. Those goals can be anything from tightening dispersion to optimizing their driver launch angle and spin.
: How has COVID changed people’s thought process about getting lessons virtually or with Golfzon?
ALEX : In the UK we’ve had a few lockdowns. During the first lockdown, everyone (like much of North America too) bought ball return nets so they could practice in their house or yard- and we’d have good sessions virtually. I’ve learned that the language I use is of utmost importance because with virtual lessons via a webcam you obviously can’t put the students into various positions physically. The words I use might work for one student but not another. So, while it’s been challenging, Golfzon makes it easy with the amount of data I can pull from. Eventually, the lessons tapered off as the lockdown was lifted and people just wanted to be outside. But, with another lockdown it was a little harder to retain students because when you take lessons you want to be able to see results on the course. So, I got many students to download the Golfzon app and send me swing videos that way. And that was much easier to provide lessons and feedback. Especially for more of the tech-savvy younger golfers. Because the younger golfers would send me a swing video and then their friends would do the same and we could have a dialogue through Golfzon that way.
: How have private lessons in a Golfzon simulator impacted new golfers from your point of view?
ALEX : It’s been a game changer – especially among new golfers. There are groups of new golfers that just don’t like hitting golf balls in front of others on the range. For one reason or another they don’t want to be judged or looked at when learning. So, when you’re able to get them in a Golfzon simulator they’re much more comfortable and confident in what you’re teaching them and what they’re doing. When you’re playing indoors, it takes away some of the fascination of where the ball did or didn’t go allowing them to focus and see faster improvement. We’re able to work on the process rather than the results.
: Are your beginner students learning better or faster in Golfzon than traditional driving range lessons?
ALEX : So, better players really want to feel the interaction with the turf (grass) because that’s so integral to how they play and their feel. But with newer players in a private setting they tend to relax easier and quicker and when you’re comfortable you learn better. And within a few shots they can see results both through numbers, shot tracers, etc. So, they can swing by numbers and see what works and doesn’t work.
: Have you used drills with an indoor simulator to help your students’ short games?
ALEX : We work on flight of the wedges with the tracer – which is a huge plus because students don’t get that when we’re on the range, obviously. So, the tracer can help them visualize hitting short game shots higher or lower. Seeing the apex of the ball with the tracer in Golfzon really helps students focus on what they’re trying to do.
: What are the biggest differences between Golzon and other golf simulators you’ve used?
ALEX : The graphics on the Golfzon courses and range are so much better than other simulators. Also, it’s so easy to use and set up. The value of the Golfzon in what you get is so much better and more cost effective than others. And I really enjoy using it both for my own game and for teaching. One of the things I like most about Golfzon is the immediate swing replays right on the screen. You don’t need separate systems or cameras.
: Have you found that your teaching style has changed through using Golfzon?
ALEX : My teaching style only changes when the lesson is fully virtual. When I’m with a student, my style stays the same. But the big thing that I love about Golfzon is the moveable swing plate. You can do so many more drills without really changing a thing. Being in the UK, we don’t have a lot of completely flat lies on links courses. When you’re at an outdoor driving range, you’ve got to go find a wonky sidehill lie somewhere to work on that difficult shot. With Golfzon, you just change a setting and you can work on those different shots. Additionally, Golfzon is just so simple for anyone who’s never used a simulator. It’s so intuitive you can just let them go with it. Whereas other simulators or launch monitors you need to give more of a tutorial.
ALEX : Around the world, golf instructors have had to get creative with giving lessons and coping with social distancing protocols still in place. One of the best aspects about teaching on a Golfzon indoor golf simulator is the ability to provide real-time feedback both through video and instant data analysis. Whether an instructor is providing lessons over Zoom or in an indoor Golfzon studio, both student and teacher are benefitting from the features that Golfzon has to offer.