Bringing big city golf to a small town
With winter encompassing six months of the year, golf in Minnesota is only part time - but Alexandria's Scott Dirck wanted to change that.
"I want to give golfers a chance to play in the winter and the bad weather - an opportunity they have in the larger cities," Dirck said.
In 2010 Dirck was named PGA teacher of the year, in 2008 and 2011 he was named Ping fitter of the year. He has also been recognized as one of the top teachers in the state by Golf Digest Magazine.
Having a long love for golf, Dirck has taught golfers most of his life, and this past March, Scott Dirck's Golf Academy opened at Geneva Golf Club.
MOVING FROM MINNEWASKA TO GENEVA
After working at Minnewaska Golf Club in Glenwood for 10 years, Scott opened Scott Dirck's Golf Academy at Geneva Golf Club in Alexandria and is currently the pro there.
"A large part of me moving to Geneva was the Thompson family and that they back me on my idea, as well as the 27 holes of golf," Dirck noted. "I want to thank Alexandria Golf Club and Minnewaska Golf Club, but I am very proud to be working with the Thompson family."
THE GOLF ACADEMY
"My students informed me [that] I've been thinking about making this academy for the past 12 years - but I'm really not sure," Dirck noted. "I love it though, with this new facility I never have to cancel a lesson because of the weather and we can plan our day based on what we want to do and not what the weather wants to."
The facility has seven bays and a putting green inside, as well as an outside driving range. The bays are heated and the building is pressurized, so when the bay doors open, the wind doesn't blow in.
Some of the technology used during lessons includes Flightscope, a 3D Doppler Tracking Golf Radar system, which tracks the ball and club head through the golf swing making it easier to analyze, and Tomi Putt, which records the putting stroke and gives solutions to fix it.
Currently, Dirck is the only teacher, but the staff will be growing to encompass some of his past students, including three Colorado State golfers.
GETTING THE RIGHT FIT
Dirck has been a golf pro for the past 17 years but has been golfing all of his life.
"The golf course by my house in Dawson was my day care," he said. "I would play baseball in the morning, and then go golf in the afternoon and hunt for golf balls at night."
Aside from playing golf, he also played a wide variety of sports and would organize teams with his friends to play competitions together.
"I always knew I could be a coach. I had one of those moms that wrote inspirational things on my mirror. She is the one that taught me the power of positive thinking," he recalled. "Coaching is about example and encouragement."
"My style of teaching is unique because it is centered on communication, technology and backed by 20 years of experience," Dirck noted.
Unlike other teaching styles, he uses 3D technology so he can look at all parts of the swing.
"With 2D, it's just a picture and I can't see what is happening at every angle. But with 3D, I can see all angles of the swing," he said. "For instance, just because the ball is going left doesn't mean you are going over the top, it could be some other factor."
This technology speeds up the process and inevitably results in improved results.
"I want to make sure the information I give is right. I don't want to give these good players wrong information," Dirck said.
Because every student has a different goal, he works with each student in an individual manner.
Taking into account body type, flexibility, personality, as well as how much time and if they are physically able to achieve their goal, he puts together personal plans for each of his students.
"Young and old, beginning to advanced, everyone's goals are a little different," he said. "Some want to make it pro or onto a college team, when others just want to get the ball in the air, or not lose so much money to their buddies. Either way, I want to help out and improve their game."
From teens to the elderly, Dirck has taught a variety of people over the years - including Alexandria's Maggie Leland.
Leland, who attends Augustana College, is currently ranked number one individually in Division II. During her senior year on the Jefferson High School golf team, she shot a 74-69 at the state meet, earning her first place and the 36-hole tournament record score at Bunker Hills Golf Course.
"During her senior year at the state meet, I was running between three golf courses," Dirck recalled. "Before her round, she asked me if I had any advice. We had been talking about this moment for the last five years - but at the time the only thing that came out of my mouth was 'Hit the hell out of it.' She just looked at me like, 'Game on'."
He left after Leland started her first hole, but about an hour later he received a call that she was shooting six under.
"She was walking off the last hole when I got back," he said. "It was great to see all of her teammates and family to share in her victory."
Over the years, Dirck has also coached Robert Bell, who went on to golf on the University of Minnesota Gophers golf team on scholarship, as well as Sarah and Emily Roering of Minnewaska, Maxine Carlson of Alexandria and Sam Falk of Minnewaska.
Aside from individuals, Dirck also works with teams. The last team he worked with was the Minnewaska girls' golf team that was state champion five years running.
"They set a precedent that will never be touched in our lifetime," he said. "But they worked hard; they deserved it. When practice was over, practice began."
The members of the team would go to school then attend golf practice, after which they would go home and do their homework and then be back on the course until dark. "
"They wanted to be out there; they wanted to win," Dirck noted.