Knowing what and how to practice is KEY to getting better and reaching your goals. I use the appropriate environments (Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland and NorCal Golf Academy in Walnut Creek) to get the most out of each session for my players. If you want to get better, I can help you. My website www.genebakkumgolf.com has more information regarding the differences at each location and the ability to sign up for lessons.
I'm a Class "A" PGA Professional and I've been on the coaching staff for the UC Berkeley Men's Golf team since 2002. In 2004, I helped lead the Golden Bears to their first NCAA National Championship in school history. More recently, I've helped players on the Cal Men’s Golf Team to win back-to-back Pac-12 team titles.
Here's what you need to know in order to choose the environment that best fits your needs: Metropolitan Golf Links is a great place if you need to work on your short game (using the Cal Short Game Area) or need help managing your game on the course. NorCal Golf Academy is a great place if you need to work on your swing fundamentals (utilizing the latest technology available in golf - Trackman radar, Swing Catalyst force plates, 3D markers to track all measurements for the body and club, e6 simulators, and SamPUTT Lab for all measurements for putting).
Learning is accelerated when feedback is reliably accurate and gets to the root cause.
By staying focused on the most important items and tracking the results in practice and on the course, I guarantee my players will reach their goal that we've both agreed upon or I'll teach them for free. I love watching my players get excited about reaching their goals, often faster than they imagined. I've been teaching and coaching the game of golf with over 20 years of experience. I draw on all of my skills to distill the information down to one or two things for the player to work on during their lessons.
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With new students, I'll ask a lot of specific questions that I need to know regarding their sports background, injuries/mobility limitations, and what their goals and timeframe are. This helps me formulate the beginnings of the plan. Every lesson will have a main objective that remains the focus. It's also important to recognize that each player arrives with different motivations for learning the game or wanting to improve their developed skills further. The players motivations are integrated with the plan to tailor the lesson further. Here are a couple of examples: Player A comes in for a lesson after a recent back surgery. This could mean they have limited mobility for torso rotation, so we likely won't be able to work on increasing rotation with much success. Instead, we'll likely focus on things they can do with their arm swing to improve the path of the club into the ball, the angle of attack of the club into the ball, and the ability to square the club face. Player B comes in with a problem topping the golf ball. During the interview, I may learn that the player has a fear of messing up the grass AND doesn't understand the concept of appropriate club interaction with the ground. We'd likely focus on improving their conceptual understanding that it can be helpful for the club to contact the ground in order to make contact on the club face rather than the bottom of the club. This player clearly has a contact issue as the number one problem, so this is the main focus for the entire lesson, making sure the student is able to problem-solve how to change their ground contact to improve their chances of successfully hitting the ball solidly.
- I have a degree from UC Davis in Exercise Science (biomechanics and sport psychology)
- Class A PGA Professional
- Division I collegiate coach for 17 years at UC Davis and UC Berkeley
- TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified Level 3 Golf Instructor and Level 2 Junior Coach
- US Kids Certified Coach
- Positive Coaching Alliance Certified Coach
- Swing Catalyst Certified Level 2
I helped run and teach the Nike Jr Golf Schools and Camps in Pebble Beach, CA for 15 years.
My pricing for Metropolitan Golf Links is as follows:
$180/hr for adults and $155/hr for juniors (18 and younger)
My pricing for NorCal Golf Academy is as follows:
$165/50 minutes for adults and $135/50 minutes for juniors (18 and younger)
I started teaching my second year in college while I was still playing competitively in 1996. I helped my coach run a parent-child camp at Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, CA. During the week-long session, I helped players hit the ball better and shoot lower scores, so I got hooked on helping others improve which was a very different feeling than working on my own game for improvement. It was very thrilling that first time I gave a player a tip and they immediately hit it better; I can safely say that feeling hasn't changed a bit today!
I work with all ages and skill levels of players. The most important trait in a player is their willingness to put forth effort over time. If they do that, I guarantee they'll get better, no matter their level of play or age. I've helped 6 year olds who've never played golf, learn the game all the way to helping collegiate, highly-ranked amateurs and professional players fine-tune their games to shave off another shot or two. It's truly a journey that's unique to the individual and I'm able to play a role in helping guide them to their goals.
Last week, I had an "ah ha" moment with one of my juniors. He wants to play collegiate golf and one day try playing professionally. He's gathered a list of 60 colleges that he'd like to attend, but he didn't know how to narrow the list down further. We had a wonderful conversation about doing some soul searching as to what he wants to do if golf doesn't pan out professionally. The light buld seemed to go off and he realized that it was all about him and not necessarily about finding a college that he could get into, but rather about finding the college that would be the best fit for what he wanted to pursue.
That same day, I had a newer player that was struggling to make contact with the ball. After a concept adjustment and a couple of cues, she was able to strike the ball and get it flying in the air. She was SO happy!
These are the moments and events that make me love what I do.
It's very important to find the right fit with the right coach/teacher/instructor. I ask a lot of my players, whether they're fully aware of it or not. I have concepts and golf principles that guide my coaching and I ask my players to do the work and find curiosity when they struggle. So much of golf is about having the appropriate attitude and looking at struggle as opportunity for growth. As I tell my players, those that do the work, do the learning. If I can guide my players to discover the answer on their own, they'll have a deeper understanding of what and how to do it. If a player is looking for me to provide all the answers, I'm not the best fit. However, if the player is looking to learn and allow me to guide them to best practices on how to achieve their goals, willing to put in the work, and have fun doing it, I'm probably a very good fit. I always give my players 100% of my efforts to help them improve, but it's those players who are willing to work hard for it that get better.
It's important that the player figures out what their motivations are, what goals they might have, how those goals might fit with their improvement, and their timeframe for achieving the goals set forth, before choosing a coach that will share in their vision and help them reach those goals.
It's important to realize the difference between needs and wants. For example, if a player wants their swing to look a certain way because they saw a player on tv, but they have an effective move that gets the ball in play and on/near the green pretty consistently, while having multiple three-putts during a round, they may need to focus on their putting if their goal is to shoot lower scores.