The Leadbetter Golf Academy Reaches 40 Locations
On a hot and humid day in 1983, the very first Leadbetter Golf Academy (LGA) was born at the Grenelefe Resort in Central Florida. Since that day, David Leadbetter’s golf academies have changed the very landscape of modern golf instruction. LGA opened its first overseas academy in Montpellier, France in 1986, a location which is still going strong today. Since then, LGA has expanded to 40 locations in 15 different countries, covering nearly every continent. Although each academy is unique, they are united in delivering the highest quality of instruction using Leadbetter’s simple philosophy for teaching the golf swing. Over the last 35 years, LGA has developed winners at every level of the game establishing the Leadbetter name as the authority on golf instruction.
Throughout Leadbetter’s career, he has pioneered new forms of instruction and made it his mission to make the game simpler to learn and teach. The Leadbetter Golf Academies worldwide pride themselves on continuing Leadbetter’s tradition of innovation and excellence by bringing premier instruction to players of all ages and abilities.
Continuing Leadbetter’s pioneering spirit, LGA continues to announce new academies around the world, including new locations opening this year in North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Ben Riches, Managing Director of LGA, plans on continually expanding the business on a global scale.
“We are excited about the expansion of the LGA network into new markets and have experienced considerable growth over the last few years – opening a variety of different academies – all with the same goal of providing world-class instruction to golfers of all levels,” said Riches.
Realizing the growth of golf globally, LGA has opened new facilities in emerging markets such as India, Vietnam, China, Bangladesh, and Morocco, as well as expanding in established markets such as England, France, and the United States.
“The challenge when entering into emerging golf markets is to grow participation and help build a robust infrastructure for educating coaches. We often find there is a lack of knowledge and training offered to local coaches. We have a dual aim of providing a professional level of instruction to golfers as well as educating local coaches on how to teach effectively. We typically bring some of our more experienced coaches to these markets to build the right foundation at the start but ultimately the goal is to elevate the standard of coaching across the region. It is very rewarding to see the difference we can make in these countries,” said Riches.
The business has grown in ways beyond new academy openings, including the re-launch of the David Leadbetter Junior Academy located at the LGA World Headquarters in Orlando. Having founded the original full-time junior academy with IMG in 1996, LGA is using its experience to deliver an elite program to a select number of junior golfers. In addition to the junior academy, LGA launched two other initiatives – Leadbetter Kids and the Leadbetter Indoor Golf Academy.
“Leadbetter Kids Schools are indoor golf centers aimed at teaching golf to young children who have never played previously. Leadbetter Kids has officially opened two locations in China, with a number of additional locations coming. Through the Leadbetter Kids program, we focus on 3 areas – golf instruction, fitness and mobility and life skills. In China, we are even teaching basic English to the children. It’s been extremely popular and really helping to provide a foundation for these children beyond just learning golf,” said Riches.
“Our other initiative, Leadbetter Indoor Golf Academies are located in major cities like NYC, Bangkok, Beijing, where all the instruction is taught on simulators. We understand the time pressures people are under these days especially living in large urban areas with little access to golf. We realized there was still a demand to play and improve so we brought our instruction to them. The new technology available allows us to teach to a high level and we actually see a bigger improvement to golfer’s technique learning indoors. We believe this will be a big growth area for us in the future.”
The goals are set high at LGA. With the vision to continually provide the best educational resources for golfers and coaches alike, LGA has exciting ventures up their sleeve to achieve just that.
“We know there has been a huge shift in recent years in how people consume information and learn. If you ask Google ‘how to learn golf’, the search query shows nearly 20 million answers. With access to so much information and endless data points, you would think golfers would automatically get better, but it doesn’t work like that. There is still a vital role for the golf coach to play and we hope to differentiate ourselves through the level of knowledge LGA coaches have,” said Riches.
“We place a huge importance on our teacher training program, led by Stuart Clayton. Coaches at all LGA facilities have undergone an intensive certification program. As a brand, the collective knowledge of our coaches is really our greatest asset and we will be offering more opportunities for coaches to become educated through LGA. Additionally, we are excited to be diving into the digital space. Taking golf where the digital audience is through our online coaching platform. People enjoy the ease of access and making golf more convenient, by literally being able to coach students in the comfort of their home, we see our online coaching platform becoming more and more important.”
With a clear business strategy, defined by embracing Leadbetter’s past experience and disrupting the future of golf, LGA is positioning itself to be an integral part how people learn the game.
“As a business, we re-established our core principles and values, centering them around training and educating golf coaches. The by-product of developing great coaches is producing better golfers, so if we really focused our efforts on providing the highest level of support to our coaches and academies our business would grow,” said Riches.
“In an industry that relies on repeat business and referrals, you can’t underestimate the importance of investing time in your people. As a business, we had to be brave enough to change and evolve how we deliver our services. That’s something we’ll continue to do – especially in the digital space. Golf teaches us so many important life lessons and if played well, it can be extremely rewarding. If we can help golfers around the world learn golf in a better way and improve faster, we’ll have done our job.”
The following Leadbetter Golf Academies have recently been added to the LGA network: