Where to Start:
A Better You Means More Effective Teaching

Sean Saunders, PGA, a 2022 Golf Fitness Association of America (GFAA) Off-Course Award Winner, is the Founder of SWS Golf Performance in Springfield, Missouri.

Finding your niche in life is a task that doesn’t always come easily. My love of golf led me to PGA membership, and my passion for movement and fitness has driven me to create SWS Golf Performance.

I currently rent an area at Redline Athletics, but am in talks to lease my own space at a nearby facility and will rebrand my business to further build our programming and reinforce the holistic aproach to health and wellness that we’ve done for several years. Look for more on these exciting efforts in Golf Fitness Monthly later this year.

In the meantime, I am a huge believer in testing and screening clients to find the source of their problems instead of just putting a band aid on them. I was a four-sport athlete growing up in Northwest Iowa, and though golf wasn’t huge in our area, I lived on a golf course and developed a passion for the game with my dad at a very young age. I didn’t get really good until I hung up my baseball cleats during my senior year of high school, but having competed in golf early on, and eventually playing in college for four years, physical and mental performance were always vital aspects of the game to me.

I worked at Sioux City Country Club under PGA Professional Mitch Merrill and worked my way out of the bag room and into the assistant professional role, before deciding that teaching was the niche I had been looking for. I attended the Golf Academy of Arizona and started learning under Buddy Allen to gauge if a playing career for me was a possibility or a pipe dream. Having competed at such a young age, I felt this was something I wanted to pursue, knowing that I had my love of teaching to fall back upon.

When TPI was introduced, I followed that path and more recently learned under the Gray Institute. When I first pursued the fitness side of golf, it was for my own golf game as much as it was for my teaching. There were aspects of my own performance that I wanted to fix, and doing so through fitness was the more prudent way to do it. Several years later, this is a significant concept that I apply in the instruction and mentorship of my students.

Getting junior golfers involved early on is important to me, considering my own background in the game. As I move into my new facility, I plan on developing small group coaching sessions that enable me to take these groups to the golf course as part of our curriculum. This teaching model will encompass technical golf instruction and mental game work, and will be heavily focused on movement training. We’ll implement stations that address different topics for short periods of time, touching on the individual pieces of the bigger puzzle that we’re always striving to solve.

As my business continues to grow, I look back on the role that education has played. Whether it’s a formal college program, following young leaders like those at TPI and Athletic Motion Golf or conferring with the best teachers in the game like James Sieckmann and Mark Blackburn, always improving your own mind and body will aid in the training of your students on the course and in the gym.

Today, my programming includes an introductory phase that builds a foundation upon which we improve the student’s limitations and deficiencies. In phase two, we use extensive video analysis to improve golf performance over an extended period of time, so the progress we make is for the long-term, and not just a band aid, as I mentioned earlier.