“Golf, like the measles, should be caught young, for, if postponed to riper years, the results may be serious,” observed author P.G. Wodehouse.
Aaron Pohle caught the fever when his parents introduced him to golf at age 6. Twenty years and countless rounds later, Pohle makes his living by helping others improve their skills in a game that has been a source of frustration and amusement for generations of players.
“I found a love for it right away,” said Pohle, the head golf pro at the Yegen Golf Club and the golf coach for Rocky Mountain College. “My parents chopped down a set of clubs for me when I was little, and I set out. I started playing tournament golf when I was in fifth grade.”
He played all through high school and in college, first at Spokane Falls Community College, and later at Rocky Mountain College. The Bears won the conference title during Pohle’s senior year, and he was named a second-team all-conference player.
Golf requires patience and practice. Even the best players risk developing bad habits without coaching, Pohle said.
“It’s a hard game,” he said. “When you think about the distance that little ball has to travel and all the obstacles, and Mother Nature is part of it. Hitting that little ball in direction you want to go isn’t always the easiest.”
Although he's a teacher and coach, Pohle still relies on others to analyze and improve his game. Randy Northrop, his former coach at Rocky, continues to be a mentor, as is former pro golfer Leslie Spalding, who now coaches at San Diego State University.
“She’s the one I really latched onto a few years ago. She helped me out with my mental game and my swing,” he said.
Some golf pros have turned to video technology to help people improve their game.
“Some people taking lessons like instant feedback,” he said. “I don’t like video for everybody, but it’s nice to use every once in a while.”
Describe how you got where you are in your work today.
I started working as a pro shop employee while playing golf at Rocky Mountain College. In the fall of 2009, I was promoted to the assistant golf professional. As the assistant, I was responsible for scheduling the range staff, golf instruction, assisting in running youth golf programs, and daily golf course operations. In the fall of 2011, the head golf pro left to pursue other career options, and I was promoted. As the head golf professional, I am responsible for scheduling pro shop staff, golf instruction, running youth golf programs, merchandising, and daily golf course operations.
What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business?
Managing staff. At first I was more of a friend to my employees. I learned very quickly that I had to modify that tactic to meet my needs to manage a successful business. The toughest challenge I have faced so far is letting our players see their full potential.
What did you learn from that challenge?
I learned that there are times when a manager should be a friend, and there are times when a manager has to play a different role. The biggest thing I have learned is that I am still learning from this. I believe that not one way is perfect and there is always room for improvement. I enjoy trying to reach perfection and love learning along the way. I have learned that each person is different in how they view their golf game and themselves, and the way that I help them to reach that potential has to be different.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?
I measure success by customer satisfaction. Golf is a sport that is meant to be enjoyed. When I see a customer leave our facility with a smile and openly expressing that they cannot wait to come back, I know that we have done our job from top to bottom. As a coach, I measure success by how my players improve as individuals. When I hear compliments on my players outside the golf course, I know that our coaching staff is doing their job.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Getting the head coaching job at my alma mater, Rocky Mountain College. It is not every day that you can coach the team that you played for.
Which living person do you most admire?
I’m happiest when I’m…
Teaching juniors the game of golf.