When the high-tech industry shoved its way into the instructional arm of the golf business several years back, there were many technophobe-type PGA club professionals who understandably shied away.
Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen was not one of them.
“I just figured if you didn’t adjust to what was going on, you were going to miss out,” said the former longtime assistant at Deer Park Golf Course, who recently partnered with Indian Canyon head professional Gary Lindeblad to establish the Gildersleeve- Jensen-Lindeblad Impact Golf Academy.
The full-service academy, which also includes club-making and club-fitting capabilities, is being operated out of the building adjacent to the driving range at Indian Canyon, where Lindeblad is the head professional.
Gildersleeve-Jensen, who spent the winter months instructing at Randy Henry’s Dynamic Golf School at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, started setting up in her new digs about a month ago. The front portion of the building, which was erected 10 years ago and, according to Lindeblad, has been “under-utilized the entire 10 years” of its existence, houses a small office and practice area.
The area includes a practice net and two hitting bays with wide doors that open out to the practice range to afford golfers the chance to stay indoors during inclement weather and still track the true flight of their ball as it sails out onto the range.
“Gary and I have been talking about doing something like this for some time now,” said Gildersleeve-Jensen, who counts Spokane native and Future Tour rookie Amy Eneroth among her many clients. “My passion is teaching, and I’ve always wanted to start a golf academy.”
In her current role, Gildersleeve-Jensen instructs a wide variety of golfers, ranging from pros such as Eneroth to young children just getting started in the sport. And she does it with an assortment of technical gadgets, including her smart phone, which allows clients to video their swings from anywhere on the planet and send them to Gildersleeve-Jensen for instant analysis.
“I’ve turned into a real techie,” said Gildersleeve-Jensen, who can also check out a client’s swing on her laptop, iPad and via Skype, although she admits the video from the latter source can sometimes be “a little too sketchy” to be of much help.
“It’s mind-blowing how far technology has come in our business, and I love it, because I’m not just limited to customers in the Spokane area. With all the latest technology and video capabilities I can do the world.”
While visiting with Gildersleeve-Jensen about her newest venture, I accepted an invitation to have my swing videoed. I hit just three of four shots, which were all that were needed, apparently. Because when I got back home, Gildersleeve- Jensen had already emailed me the video, complete with a side-by-side comparison to the swing of Champions Tour regular Tom Kite.
On the video, Gildersleeve-Jensen visually analyzes each stage of my swing, and uses audio – along with angles and arcs she adds to the video – to explain where it breaks down.
“This way people have something they can go back to and refresh themselves about what it is they should be working on,” Gildersleeve-Jensen said. “They don’t have to worry about trying to remember everything they were told on the range.”
Lindeblad said he has been too busy with his other duties to fully utilize the academy building in the past.
“Plus, the right person wasn’t around,” he said. “But Kathy is that right person.”
Gildersleeve-Jensen remains involved, to a certain degree, with Henry’s golf school in Coeur d’Alene, but expects to work out of her Indian Canyon location year-round once the academy is fully equipped. Among the items on her wish list is a high-end launch monitor that will give clients hitting into the practice net immediate feedback on the trajectory, spin and curve of their ball.
Gildersleeve-Jensen also hopes to eventually install an indoor putting green.
“Those are just a few of the carrots I’ve dangled in front of me to make sure this turns out the right way,” she said.