Meet the Pro with Go Golf U.S.
Welcome to the 6th edition of “Meet the Pro”. If you missed our previous articles, let us quickly explain what/why we do it. A goal of Go Golf U.S. is to build a personal connection in the game of golf again. We want to help players get to know the courses, golf shop staff and Pro’s. When we see familiar faces and can add a smile or Hello, it makes a better experience for all. So, to gather content for these articles, I (Alan Liwush) put the Pro’s on the hot seat for an interview to find more about them to share with all of the Go Golf U.S. community members.
Brian Jacobs – Lead Instructor of Brian Jacobs Golf
The Golf Channel Academy/Ridgemont CC and Avid Indoor Golf
Having played at Ridgemont only a few times in my day, but being a frequent visitor to Avid Indoor Golf in the Winter time here in Rochester, NY (to shake the rust off after neglecting my golf game for months and prepping for a trip to play in Florida in a few short weeks…), surprisingly, I had never met Brian before. After sending the last edition of our “Meet The Pro” featuring Mike Roeder onto the interwebs, Brian replied via email letting us know how great of a guy Mike is and was thankful we took the time to interview him and share his story on such a localized golf blog. After some excitement that some people were actually reading my work, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to get to meet Brian and interview him for our next “Meet The Pro” segment. Most of the time, we have a structured set of questions we go through involving the game and teaching. This one went differently, in the best way possible. Upon meeting Brian, it was like I already knew him for years. An extremely friendly and generous guy, he and I sat and chatted for over two hours. I am thankful for his time and have pulled out some of the best excerpts from our convo to share with you below. Without further ado, please enjoy this edition of “Meet The Pro” with Brian Jacobs.
Brian Jacobs currently has a host of positions in golf instruction. To name a few, he’s a Lead Coach at The Golf Channel Academy, Lead Instructor at Ridgemont CC and also the owner/operator of his own brand, “Brian Jacobs Golf“. Teaching was natural to him as he is also on his 30th (and final) year of teaching health education in the Rochester City School District.
To get to where he is today, Brian has worked numerous jobs within the golf business. His break into golf came when he took a position at Midvale CC in the bag room and started a caddie program. The caddie program involved bringing inner city youth to Midvale to caddie and educate them on the game of golf as well as teach them life lessons. With the start of the caddie program, other opportunities came about. Caddie Master would be the next role taken at Locust Hill CC where he spent 6 years racking up caddie gigs at major tournaments like the U.S. Amateur during his tenure. While working in golf, Brian was always hitting balls and working on his game. Opportunities to play with local Pro’s came about and his game matched up well against them. With some push from friends and family to take the PAT to get his PGA credentials, he did so in 2000, recording scores of 71 and 67 respectively. Scores like that turned some heads and when questioned who he was, his reply was, “Oh you know, just a school teacher, spent some time caddying and a decent athlete”. While working as an Assistant Professional under Locust Hill Country Club Head Professional, Brian went on and passed PGA Business School (PGM) in a year to get his Class A credentials. After leaving Locust, Brian made his way to the Country Club of Rochester. CCR gave him opportunities to meet people like the late, great Sam Urzetta. In conversation with Sam, he told Brian that he wasn’t going to be a head golf pro, but instead a golf instructor and Sam encouraged him to take that path. That year, he took a position with ESPN, teaching corporate lessons and golf schools on the weekends and also made a jump to Ravenwood with Paul Sanders. His position at ESPN lead him to meeting teachers like Hank Haney and Michael Breed (Ever heard of them?). Upon building a relationship with Hank, Brian began writing the curriculum for Hank’s “Teach The Teacher” series.
With an overloaded schedule, Brian decided to start focusing on his true passions and eliminating some roles he took on over the years. In 2005, he stopped coaching college/high school golf and left Ravenwood to head to Irondequoit CC. He had a set of calculated moves in mind for his next roles in golf. He wanted to go private and then high end public again to know truly where he wanted to be. After two years at ICC, he went to Mill Creek for three years. And that, leads us to where we are today with his roles at RCC, The Golf Channel Academy and Brian Jacobs Golf.
Photo above is Brian instructing a student at the Ridgemont range
What Make’s Brian Different?
In comparison to many of the other pro’s and people I have interviewed on this blog, he is what the industry calls an “independent”. Brian said, “with being an Independent, we generally aren’t connected to the club but I am. I have freedom but I also am proud for myself and my brand to be a pivot at the club when it comes to being an advocate and ambassador for staff, membership and guests. “I’m outside all day long coaching and am always aware of my surroundings. I interact with a variety of people at the academy site including the owner of RCC, the Head Professional and his Assistants, Outdoor Operations Staff and Staff from the Food and Beverage areas both outdoor and indoors. I love coming to work and my set up here at the course is awesome! I’ve been provided a private range, I’ll get the rocking chairs and cooler out and take time to stop and talk with people, give encouragement, have fun. I enjoy interacting with people, developing relationships and making people feel welcomed and wanted.” This freedom has also allowed Brian to be a full time teacher for the last 30 years and effectively utilize his Summer’s here to work on teaching, instructing and building his business. Don’t think that because he’s a teacher during the school year he is taking time off from instructing. He utilizes the facility at Avid in the off season and is teaching lessons after school hours and on the weekends. The work he does during the school day helps translate to the lesson tee. Being a teacher has allowed him to test many different teaching tools in which he can bring to golf. As he put it, “teaching is all relevant, no matter what it is.”
Another difference I noticed in Brian was his response to my question, “What golf book do you recommend or have gifted most in the past?” He immediately dodged the idea of a golf book and suggested a book called, “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon. I heard great things about the book and this sparked our conversation about other books. He followed up by saying, “Readers are leaders” and elaborated on how not enough people use books as tools for the mind anymore. As an instructor, he is working with students and is always recommending books for them to read, which I think is great. Many of the books he chooses help build mental strength as the game of golf is very challenging and you need to be mentally tough to keep composure after a bad shot. Part of his relationship building process with clients isn’t just about golf. His goal is to truly change the lives of the people he encounters. I definitely got that vibe from him and can’t think of a better way to build a life long client/friend.
In my conversation with Brian, we got pretty deep into life and routines. He, like myself, is an early riser and fitness enthusiast. Some may call us crazy, but both of us are up before 5 and on the gym floor working out shortly after. A focal point of his morning is turning to gratitude to appreciate the things he has, the people he has met and his health. I couldn’t agree more with him on taking a moment out of the day, preferably in the morning to be grateful for the things we have. This really was a great practice to hear he does as many people don’t fit this into their day and should.
One of the biggest things that drew me into Brian after doing some research was his effort on building his own brand. This is a widely used buzz word in marketing, but it’s so effective. Brian’s brand is an extension of who he is. He selects a specific type of person to be on his staff and even specific types of people to coach. If someone doesn’t fit the brand, he simply chooses not to work with them. Research and finding more about Brian was super easy. For a guy in his 50’s, he understood social media and the use of it to build a following like a true marketing guru. This was a real treat for me because so many people are nervous to use this amazing platform to truly help them build a business. He puts the time in and posts the recommended amount per day on social. It was ultimately how he was recognized by The Golf Channel Academy and got much more involved.
Q and A
Q: Do you have a hole in one? If so, explain it briefly.
A: “Yes, I have two and both were awesome! The better one was on #15 at Locust Hill Country Club. Pin was front left and 132 yards to the hill above the pin. I knew if I hit it to the hill I could spin it back and it’d have a chance to go in. I used a about a 3/4 swing with a pitching wedge as the hole is down hill. As soon as I hit the shot I knew it had a chance and I actually thought it was going to go in. The shot played out as I calculated, hit hill perfect, a bit of spin and in the jar!”
Q: Name 3 things every player needs in their golf bag? – Can’t be a club.
- “40-60 oz. of water with Biosteel in it” My insight- I myself, am a huge Biosteel fan as well. I was introduced to the product when in college playing Hockey. It had a huge following in the NHL so all the boys were using it. It’s a clean product with no added sugar. Great for mid-round fuel and hydration.
- “Extra coins for ball markers or to set on the green previous to play to putt/chip/pitch to” My insight – Don’t be the guy using a tee as a ball mark… A coin is a simple and small thing to carry, keep a few in the bag! Below is actually a really fun game I played last year with coins. Check it out.
- “An extra glove in case one tears or you perspire through it” My insight – Absolutely crucial and I myself carry a new glove still in the package as well. It’s a small cost for security in the future in case it rips or we have an unusually warm day.
We have listed below some links to great products Go Golf U.S. recommends on Amazon corresponding to Brian’s suggestions.
Q: Tell me about your upcoming series on The Golf Channel Academy called “The Takeaway”?
A: “The Takeaway is a short segment show we will be hosting on Facebook live. It’s a new concept I came up with where I do it at my own facility instead of flying to the studio. Each week, I pick a topic and spend 20 minutes on it. It’s going to air at 2 pm on Tuesdays. The important thing with any social post is answering the peoples questions when they come in. When I am on the Morning Drive, i’ll get 300 plus questions. I purposely get a late flight home so I can spend time answering them all. I did a 7 episode series with household items and they’re about 30 seconds long. Just some quick tip stuff and got 100k views! Unreal. It blew up over Christmas when we did it so decided to test it again with this platform.”
When Brian elaborated on the show idea, I loved it. I always think how excited I am when I comment or ask a question on a brands social post and they take the time to respond. This interactive platform allows Brian to respond immediately on questions. You can find passed editions of The Takeaway on Brian’s Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/brianjacobsgolf or on The Golf Channel Academy’s FB page. Like I said before, it will be airing on Tuesdays at 2! Brian has a host of other information videos on his site here https://brianjacobsgolf.com/media-room/videos as well.
Q: What do you believe makes your teaching style different? Who trained or influenced you?
A: “I know I am different than others in the area because I offer relationships with my students and long term coaching. Coaching for improvement is more of a series of 5 or 10 lessons instead of 1 offs which I don’t do. Coaching requires true commitment from the coach and student. It’s a long term process like all learning. I was trained and directly influenced by many instructors like Hank Haney, Michael Breed, Cameron McCormick, Mike Bender, Pia Nillson, Lynn Marriott, Martin Hall and David Leadbetter. Locally, Paul Sanders, Joe Diego and the late Sam Urzetta.”
To say the least, Brian’s influencers are star studded. His personal relationship with them all has developed over the years via his interaction with The Golf Channel.
Q: Do you have anything you do daily to make sure you accomplish your goals?
A: “To accomplish goals/tasks, I follow a 5-3-1 scale. I list out 5 things everyday to accomplish. I quickly cut 2 away that were BS to begin with to get the “Little 3”. Then, I would cut 2 again from the “Little 3” to get to the “Big 1”. I take my “Big 1” and make sure that gets accomplished each day. If you can’t accomplish one thing in one day, you are a SAD SAD person. Whether its posting on social or something else, you have to make this a part of a daily routine. I get up way earlier than anyone in my house so I have time to meditate and relax. I see productivity killed by answering email constantly. I block time off for email, twitter and Instagram and when I hit my limit, I’m done. It’s a good lesson for people to learn. When I do posts, I think of one person specifically and say, “Ok, how can this help them?”. My morning also includes reflection on gratitude. I wake up and walk downstairs and say, “Wow, I have a great house, great kids, great wife and my body moves, my brain thinks.” So now, I’m in a grateful attitude to take on my day.
Q: What’s one failure in golf you have experienced that set you up for future success? Can be in golf business, on the course or in life?
A: “I actually failed out of two Universities because I didn’t “take care of business”. I worked in industry and off jobs as a young man and realized that if I was going to be successful in life, I needed two things, a formal education and a better work ethic.”
Q: This lead to my next question, What does “Success” mean to you?
A: “Success to me is contentment. Meaning I’m happy and I’m content. Content doesn’t mean your not driven. I get a lot of calls for job offerings at places. I got a call from two very prestigious clubs as they were looking for a Director of Instruction; I was humbled and honored but for me, I am where I want to be…for now. So, I spoke with my family, my leadership team and mentors and said, you know what, I’m humbled and honored but I have to pass. It’s not that the jobs aren’t amazing and the notoriety would be off the charts. But at the end of the day, even at a major club, it’s just grass and a ball and I’m happy here. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to perhaps earn that kind of money or have that status, but I’ve learned in life that working at a major country club, you often times don’t control your destiny. Right now, I own myself, my brand and my time, which means I call the shots, I have some control over my destiny and my journey. It’s not about control, but it’s about knowing who you are and who you’re not, the direction I want to go and the culture I want to be around. So for me, success isn’t about money or the status, I measure it more by relationships and culture, how my heart feels about things, about my values and am I happy?”
Q: What does the future and life after retirement look like for Brian Jacobs?
A: “I am psyched! I can’t wait to have 100% of my time to put into golf. I currently have 9-5 relationships now, but I will have more time to devote to them. At the beginning, I may be lost because I have so much more time, but I’m a super early riser so I can get a lot done in a day. 4 am my day starts by going to the gym and then to school. After school, some golf lessons or brand work and go to bed. I’m very routine oriented, so I don’t see that changing at all. I am super excited about where my daughters and wife are at in life and going. I think its going to be a great change for us all honestly. I will take more time to travel and see friends. I’m so intrigued with my friend, Colin Swatton (Jason Day’s teacher) and really excited to spend time with him. I’m going to go to Denver to speak then to a Methodist College in North Carolina to speak to their PGM (Professional Golf Management) program. I work with schools a lot and plan to more. I am also leading an event April 20th where my good friend Michael Breed is coming to my academy to speak. It’s open to the public and I couldn’t be more excited to grow the game and showcase Ridgemont Country Club and Golf Channel Academy at Brian Jacobs Golf! For my talks, I just ask that they cover expenses for travel and stay. I donate my time as it’s the proper thing to do. I’m different where most people are 10 grand for a session. I think people are monetizing on what we should be giving our youth. We should be saying we believe in them and thank them for having us there to teach and educate. I’m excited about mentoring and passing the game on to my players and anyone interested. My tee box is always open, so if you call me tomorrow and say, “Hey I’m going to come observe lessons”, I’m ok with it as long as the player is.”
The Brian Jacobs Golf Academy Team
After the interview with Brian, he asked me to attend an event of his at Avid called "Pints, Pitches and Psyche" aka Triple P. An awesome event involving local beer from Rohrbachs, group instruction on the simulators and also mental coaching from him and one of his team members. I got to spend a little bit of time with each of them and fully understood why he selected them specifically to be on his staff.
1. Rob Comerer - Staff Instructor. Rob is a Class-A PGA Professional and Staff Instructor at Brian Jacobs Golf who has worked and taught at some of the country’s finest clubs, including: the Bucknell Golf Club, Ford’s Colony Country Club, Wilmington Country Club, and most recently, the Baltimore Country Club.
Rob was great. I had the opportunity to take some swings with him using the Trackman and get some real data about my ball flight.
2. Jeff Ross - Club Fitting/Equipment Engineer. Jeff Ross, a master club fitter, is Maltby Certified for both club fittings and repairs. He has close to 10 years’ experience identifying the proper club set and make-up specifications for golfers. Jeff knows how to review each golfer’s unique swing, in relationship with their ball flight to improve performance.
After a few swings, Jeff had some club recommendations for me. He had me try out a few iron set ups by Titleist and optimized a club set up for my swing. I took the numbers and am waiting to make a purchase on some new irons now... Did someone say AP3's?
3. Dr. Stephen P. Gonzalez - Mental Conditioning. Stephen is an expert in mental training, an Assistant Professor of Sport Psychology at The College at Brockport, and a consultant to organizations and teams. For the last decade, Dr. Gonzalez has worked with the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, professional athletes, collegiate athletes, high school athletes, performing artists, and weekend warriors with the ultimate goal of high performances and personal development. Dr. Gonzalez has extensive experience working with golfers to develop a mindset for high performance and brings his passion for helping people to Brian Jacobs Golf.
I immediately got along with Stephen after talking about him helping The Boys on the Hockey Team at Brockport where I previously played. We talked about the importance of mindset in golf and how its overlooked by many people, yet such a crucial part of the game.
4. Dr. Michael Hughes - Orthopedic Specialist. Dr. Michael R Hughes is an outpatient orthopedic specialist who has been practicing at Agape Physical Therapy in Gates, NY for the past 5 years. He has worked with a wide variety of patient populations ranging from high school, collegiate, and semi-professional athletes to middle-aged sports enthusiasts looking to regain their athletic prowess. Dr. Hughes has been an avid golfer throughout his life and helps to assist his patients with a successful return to pain free and quality movement to improve overall performance in any sport, especially golf.
After realizing that Michael and I knew each other from the past, we were hanging out and cracking jokes like we've been buddies for years. He helped me out with some ideas for workouts and stretching as I have virtually no rotation in my thoracic spine and upper back. Great guy, book an appointment with him by contacting him at email@example.com. or via his website at https://agapephysicaltherapy.c
Great people and great team. For more info, visit Brian's site at https://brianjacobsgolf.com/staff
Where to find Brian Jacobs and Brian Jacobs Golf Online?
To help get Brian and his brands info out there, you can find him online on his website at https://brianjacobsgolf.com/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/brianjacobsgolf, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BrianJacobsgolf (handle @BrianJacobsgolf) and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/BrianJacobsgolf/ (handle @brianjacobsgolf).
Brian operates out of Ridgemont CC, so we figured we would ask him about the course like we do in all interviews. “Ridgemont CC is a great course and built with an “old soul”. It’s not overpoweringly long, but long enough to offer any level of player a challenge. The greens are small in comparison to many other builds and the contour of the grounds winds you around a special piece of property.” I always like to ask favorite and least favorite holes on a course and take note of it for when I play there next. His answers are respectively, “I like all the holes, but #14 is probably one of my favorites. It requires a great tee shot avoiding bunkers on the left and also near the green. The green is uphill and requires precision to keep the ball under the hole.” As for least favorite, “I love them all.” This is sometime a bail out answer, but he does really enjoy the course. In the future, I will rephrase this question as “the most challenging to the average golfer”.
You can find all of Brian’s rates and even schedule an assessment/lesson online HERE. Brian Jacobs Golf Academy offers a few plans for instruction which you can find more about on his site at https://brianjacobsgolf.com/instruction.
That wraps up this interview! Thanks for reading our 6th edition of “Meet The Pro” with Brian Jacobs. I really enjoyed getting to know Brian as I do with all the interviews. His knowledge of golf instruction and life lessons he shared with me were amazing. I’m so grateful he took the time to sit down with me for the interview.
Be sure to stay tuned for next month’s edition as well as other blog posts. Thanks for reading!
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