Business owner and professional golfer Bob Corbo believes that companies that value their employees provide the best service to their customers.
“Some businesses don’t know this, but the inside customer is just as important as the outside customer,” says Corbo, president and CEO of Mercer County Golf Academy. With this in mind, his company offers an environment for corporate outings that focus on team bonding and employee relationships.
On Wednesday, April 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Princeton Country Cub in West Windsor, the academy will host the Princeton Chamber of Commerce for a combination of networking with instructions on the basics of golf techniques and etiquette. Participants will learn from professional golf instructors and use the academy’s golf simulators for hands-on practice. The fee of $40 includes a light dinner and drinks. Register at www.princetonchamber.org or call 609-924-1776.
One thing people new to golf learn from a group event is that you don’t have to perform on a professional level to enjoy the game, says Corbo. “When people watch golf on TV, they’re seeing the best players on earth playing at their best,” he says. “The second a golfer does not perform well, the camera moves off him. So the average person watching this is thinking, ‘Wow, I can’t do that,’” Corbo says. He recommends that you stop comparing yourself to the pros, be open to learning, and just enjoy the game.
Corbo says he has seen several changes in the sport since he developed a passion for golf 30 years ago.
From the late 1990s to about 2005, golf was very popular, and courses were being built “on every corner.” With the Wall Street boom, a lot of people had money and were spending it on golf. “But the bubble burst, and you saw a lot of golf courses closing,” he says. Corbo thinks this was probably a good thing, noting that the best run courses stayed open.
Other changes Corbo observes include demographics, game length, instruction, and the popularity of simulators and other technology.
Technology: Players seeking to improve their game use golf simulators that analyze their swing and provide immediate feedback. In inclement weather, an indoor simulator offers an alternative environment for the game. For beginners who feel self-conscious, an indoor facility with simulators and video offers more privacy than an outdoor course.
Video allows you to see yourself performing and gives you a live picture of what your instructor is telling you. Other technology options like swing sensor gloves, GPS watches, club chips, and impact tracking devices have grown in popularity over the past several years.
Instruction: Golf instructors today recognize differences in the way people are built and how they move, and modify training accordingly. Instructors also focus more on the impact of the club on the golf ball. “Of course, the basics never change, the grip, the posture, the stance, the alignment, but impact has become important,” Corbo says.
Game length: There is a trend toward shorter games, playing nine holes instead of 18, and starting from tees closer to the hole.
Demographics: More women and children play golf today. Often, a mother who brings her child to golf lessons will try the sport out of curiosity and develop an interest in the game. Some mothers find it to be a good way to spend time with their kids.
Corbo became interested in golf in his 20s. Growing up, he was interested in other sports — baseball, football, and basketball. Golf just wasn’t part of the picture for a boy growing up in a middle-class family in Staten Island, he says.
Before opening Mercer Golf Academy in 2008, Corbo worked in retail and real estate in New York. “I was well into my adult life when I had the money and time to focus on golf,” he says. From ages 40 to 50, he played in every national event in the U.S. and eventually qualified for the national championships.
For the past 10 years he has been a Division I college coach at Long Island University. “It’s a great thing to be dealing with young athletes who have talent,” he says. Corbo is a medalist and author of numerous instruction articles, including a cover and feature article in Golf Illustrated.
Mercer County Golf Academy (www.mercercountygolfacademy.com) is headquartered at Princeton Country Club on Wheeler Way, and offers year-round programs in a 6,000-square-foot indoor facility. The academy’s space includes three indoor golf simulators, doppler radar golf ball tracking technology, four hitting nets, and a 600-square-foot indoor putting green.
In addition to Princeton Country Club, the academy offers instructions at the three other county park system courses, including Mercer Oaks East and West in West Windsor, and Mountain View Golf Club in Ewing. They offer private and group lessons as well as corporate outings focusing on team bonding. Services include professional swing analysis and club fitting with a nationally ranked top 100 club fitter.
All instructors are United States Golf Teachers Federation certified, and the academy is the federation’s regional headquarters.
“Golf lends itself to just about any level of physical fitness,” says Corbo, adding that it is a good choice for building personal or business relationships. It provides an opportunity to bond, and even a duffer can make that part of the game look easy.