Nick Cuca, the 2017 Illinois PGA Section Assistant Professional of the Year, is the PGA Director of Instruction at SMART Golf & Fitness Instruction in Chicago, Illinois.
I joined the team at SMART Golf & Fitness Instruction in 2018, after several years at green grass facilities along the north shore of Chicago. There, I had the opportunity to teach a lot and develop my understanding of the golf swing, and the importance of having a complimentary fitness program that I employ to this day.
My experience at SMART Golf & Fitness Instruction began when I was a client several years ago and was working with one of their trainers. At that time, I met the ownership team of Joe Sheren, PGA and Tommy Asuma, and had some great conversations that led to me coming on board as the Director of Instruction at our new location in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Our new student relationships all begin with a two-hour initial assessment that I conduct in collaboration with one of our fitness trainers. I take the client through an interview process and then move them over to the TrackMan, where they’ll hit some short irons, mid irons and drivers, while I collect baseline data on their performance. During this process, I gather high-speed video of their golf swings, in addition to 3D data via K-Vest, and I implement BodiTrak to gain an understanding of how they use the ground and move their center of pressure throughout their golf swing.
During the second half of the assessment, the student will go upstairs with our trainer to go through an extensive fitness screen. Meanwhile, I’m looking at data that I collected, as well as video taken during the golf swing portion of our session. What will this individual’s game improvement plan look like? How will our facilities and team aid in their progress? We really leave no stone unturned.
I’ll go upstairs to watch the second half of the fitness screen, and confer with the fitness trainer on limitations in the golfer’s physical abilities that might hinder the golf swing. The process also sheds light on what efforts will be made on the fitness side to remedy these limitations over time, which will allow the golfer to reach his or her goals sooner.
How do we help this person not only become a better golfer, but also a better athlete? It’s not an overnight process – it’s a long-term relationship (minimum 3 months) for sure, which is why we spend so much time as a team educating our students about the learning process, and have put so much emphasis on developing not only a top-notch facility, but also a top-tier staff that consists of industry experts.
Here at Lincoln Park, we have seven TrackMan devices in our 10,000 square foot facility, and an expansive gym space upstairs, as well. After being closed for a few months at the start of the pandemic, 2020 ended up being a record year, and we haven’t looked back since.
There’s a 1,000 square foot putting green with PuttView technology, a player’s lounge, locker rooms and retail shop. We also have a putting studio with SAM PuttLab technology. We also specialize in custom club fitting to ensure our clients are playing equipment that meets their body type and improving skill set. Members have use of these amenities when booked in advance via an online app.
Most of our clients work in Chicago, but are members at various local country clubs, so our unique services and facilities are added amenities in themselves. We cater to their needs and the success of our business is proof that we’re doing something right.