Director of Instruction, Esplanade Golf and Country Club
Title: Director of Instruction, Esplanade Golf and Country Club, Naples, Florida.
Years as a PGA Professional: LPGA Tour member since 1990, LPGA Professional since 2015.
Top achievements / honors: Inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame (2018), British Columbia Golf Hall of Fame (2015) and Manitoba Golf Hall of Fame (2008). Winner of the LPGA Tour's Founder's Award (2002). LPGA Tour wins (2), Epson Tour wins (1). Won Canadian PGA Women's Championship (1988).
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What app is a must-have on your phone? SportsBox AI.
What books would you recommend? Anything by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, and "Unconscious Putting" and "Unconscious Scoring" by Dave Stockton. For all golf professionals, "Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect" by Will Guidara.
Who is your favorite golfer? Rory McIlroy
What is your most memorable round of golf? Playing with my then-88-year-old father, Bill Anderson, at Kelowna Golf and Country Club and two of his buddies — who were 91 and 92 years old. Non-stop banter and hilarity.
The First Call: What made you want to pursue a career in golf?
Gail Graham: As I progressed through amateur and college golf, I saw so many of my peers making it on the LPGA Tour. I thought I would give myself five years to see what I could accomplish. That was 35 years ago.
TFC: What is your favorite instructional tip to share with a golfer?
GG: Master your set-up fundamentals — grip alignment, posture, stance and you will give yourself the best opportunity to swing freely and naturally.
TFC: What advice do you have for someone considering a career in golf?
GG: If you love the game, then working successfully in the game comes with the realization that your passion will guide you. If you choose to play, you will want to surround yourself with the right people to support your efforts so that you can focus on playing the game. If you are an instructor, then work hard to ensure you know how to communicate well with your students/clients and build strong relationships with them. Invest time in learning everything you can about the game — watch other instructors teach, read articles and books to support your teaching philosophy and be a student of the game.
TFC: What is the best advice you have received on your career path?
GG: Pressure is a privilege. You have earned the right to be where you are, but you must constantly put yourself in uncomfortable situations in order to fail and learn. It can be painful, but you will be a better player/instructor/coach in the end.
TFC: Is there a particular area of your job that you find most rewarding?
GG: There is nothing better than having a student get it and hit shots that they never thought they were capable of. Giving them the tools that can get them to their goals and seeing their hard work come to fruition is incredibly rewarding.
TFC: What is one challenge you currently see in the industry?
GG: I think a huge challenge in the industry is having employers recognize a golf professional's worth and pay accordingly for your value. There is a balance for an instructor to be valued by the club enough to provide an appropriate base salary so that you do not alienate the membership by having a lesson rate that is too high.
TFC: Do you have a preferred style or philosophy for teaching golf?
GG: Every golfer is different. From their skill level to their build and size to their mindset. My goal for my students is for them to develop a tool box that is theirs alone and that they know what they can do to correct and be resilient while on the course. I want them to know not only what to do, but why they are doing it.
TFC: Where is there room for growth within the industry?
GG: I believe that opportunities for the development of more short courses — for time management and player development — as well as public facilities that are reasonably priced and user friendly will help grow the game.
TFC: When you look at your career, in what area(s) do you believe you have evolved for the better?
GG: I have had three careers in golf — as a player, an administrator/builder and as an instructor/coach. My greatest public achievements came as a player, but my greatest sense of satisfaction has come as an instructor. I have an unreasonable passion for seeing others learn and improve in their games, and so I have become a voracious learner so that I can be the best possible source of information and support for my students.