Anders Mattson has his own way of teaching this challenging game of golf. His theory is that it’s more beneficial to adjust to his students’ strengths and weaknesses than showing them one standard method of swinging the club.
Apparently, his system works. The 34-year-old golf professional from Saratoga National Golf Club was named the Northeastern New York PGA’s Teacher of the Year and will be honored by his peers at the NENYPGA annual spring meeting Monday at Wolferts Roost Country Club.
“I never had a specific mentor,” said Mattson, a Queensbury High School and Furman University graduate. “I gathered information on my own. I have been to national seminars all over the country, and I learned from the best. I’ve taken a lot of what other great teachers have said, and I’ve included it in my teaching method, but my classes are individually based. I try to find out what are an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Mattson, who teaches all winter long in Saratoga, earned his Class A PGA certificate in 2009 and was named the head pro at Saratoga National under director of golf Peter Tavares.
“After playing and teaching this defiant game for a few years with some success, I decided to find out what others were doing to get better,” Mattson noted on his Web site, AndersMattsongolf.com. “ I knew how I liked to play, and what I liked to teach, but needed some reassurance that what I was doing was correct. I found a nearby Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification seminar and was absolutely enthralled with the knowledge and extent at which others had taken the game. I did extensive research, and after finishing up the second and third level of certification with TPI, I decided I needed to further spread what I have learned.”
Mattson soon realized that he could teach the game in a different way than some of his predecessors.
“I found that we do not need to work out every day, or hit 1,000 balls a day to improve our golf games. Rather, we can simply use the available time that we have to make our golf games better. The theory of spending countless hours on the range, or on the exercise bike are outdated, unnecessary and unrealistic for most. I have come up with a teaching pattern that helps with all aspects of the game in an efficient and orderly sequence,” he said.
One of his teaching techniques is to work on distance control with the wedges. He has his students hit to certain distances, even out in the snow. His Trackman simulation device then tracks the ball flight and gives an accurate reading for everyone’s distance on each shot.
“We work from 10 to 100 yards. We can see where a player’s problem areas are and try to fix them,” he said. “You might find out that a player has trouble with the 60-yard shot. We can work on that. If he has all of his wedges down, we can go on to some of the other clubs.”
Mattson is also a strong player. He won the 2009 NENYPGA Stroke Play Championship – the club pros’ most important event -- and was the runner-up the next season.
“Playing golf is important for a club professional,” he said. “Obviously, I enjoy playing, but there is also a lot of merit in having a pro keep his game in shape. I take pride in my game, and I have re-dedicated myself to it. I need to perform the shots I’m teaching. I need to show my students what I’m looking for when I teach them, so I better know what I’m talking about. I also need to feel what they will feel when they are out playing.”
Mattson believes that a golfer must be fit both physically and mentally to play the game successfully.
“The game of golf has evolved greatly over the past decade, led mostly by the youthful athletes that have dominated the sport. There is a huge correlation to the players’ fitness levels as well as their practice regimens that all of the best players possess,” he writes on his Web site.
“ I hope to instill many of the best techniques that I have researched and practiced into my students’ games. The main focus of my teaching philosophy is that not everyone can swing the club in the same fashion. Depending on the physical capabilities, the club will move in a way that is natural and comfortable for the player. In order to change an inefficient pattern, we must address both the physical as well as the mental aspect of the swing.”
Mattson also has a few pet sayings for his students. He calls them Andersisms:
1. It's better to understand than to be understood.
2.Two things you cannot control: 1 - The Weather. 2 - The Past.
3. Do what you think about and think about what you do.
4. It's not about how far it goes, it's about how far they go.
5. "Winners compare themselves to themselves, losers compare themselves to others."
Other NENYPGA special award winners include Golf Professional of the Year Brad Benson of the Country Club of Pittsfield, TaylorMade-adidas Golf Assistant Professional of the Year Anthony Therrien of Saratoga Golf & Polo Club, Mike Behan of W&B Golf Carts (Horton Smith Education Award), Marc Levesque of Columbia Golf & Country Club (Youth Player Development Golf Leader), Thomas Siddon of Massena Country Club (Roland Stafford Sportsmanship Award), Ron Ireland of Saratoga Golf & Polo Club (Bill Strausbaugh Club Relations Award), Pete Butt of FootJoy Sales (Sales Person of the Year), Dale Ezyk of Colonial Acres Golf Course (Player Development), Wille King of Plattsburgh Golf (Patriot Award), Steve Jensen of Schuyler Meadows Club (Merchandiser of the Year Private Clubs) and Bob Mucha of Greenock Country Club (Merchandiser of the Year Public Clubs).
Following is the NENYPGA playing schedule.
14 – Spring Meeting Pro-Pro at Wolferts Roost CC; 21 – Pro-Assistant Pro Championship at The Edison Club; 28 – Pro Classic No. 1.
5 – Pro Classic No. 2; 7 – Gazette Cup at Mohawk Golf Club; 9 – Double “H” Hole in the Woods Pro-Am at The Sagamore Resort; 12 – Pro Classic No. 3 at CC of Pittsfield; 14 – U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Schuyler Meadows; 19 – Pro Classic No. 4.
3 – Pro Classic No. 5; 8-9 Donald Ross Classic at The Sagamore Resort and Glens Falls CC, respectively; 18 – New York State Open Qualifier at McGregor Links CC; 23 – Ellis Medicine Pro-Am at Mohawk Golf Club; 26 – NENYPGA Assistants Series No. 2 at Town of Colonie G.C.; 30 – Pro-Junior at Hiland G.C.
7 – Pro-Senior Amateur at Wolferts Roost CC; 14 – Pro Classic No. 6 at Cobleskill G&CC; 21 – Center for Disability Pro-Am; 22-24 – New York State Open at Bethpage GC Black; 29-30 – NENYPGA Professional Chamionship at Ballston Spa CC; 31 – NENYPGA Assistants Series No. 3 at McGregor Links CC.
5 – ALS Pro-Am Invitational at Mohawk GC; 11 – Class A Championship at Colonie G&CC; 13-Pro-Lady at Wiltwyck GC; 18 – YMCA Pro-Am at Wiltwyck GC; 20 – NENYPGA Senior Stroke Play Championship at The Edison Club; 25-26 – NENYGA Stroke Play Championship at Wahconah CC; 28 – NENYPGA Assistants Series No. 4, TBA.
2 – NENYPGA Southworth Senior Professional Championship at Mohawk GC; 2 – Woodstock Open; 9 – Triple Play Pro-Pro at Town of Colonie G.C.; 16-17 – NENYPGA Match Play Championship at Albany CC; 24 – National Car Rental PGA Assistant Championship at Colonie G&CC; 25 – NENYPGA Assistants Series No. 5, TBA; 25 – Bob Smith Memorial Senor Pro-Am at Leatherstocking GC; 30 – Assistants Match Play Championship at Colonie G&CC.
1 – Assistants Match Play Championship continues at Colonie G&CC; 6 – Assistants Silver Dollar Pro-Am at McGregor Links CC; 9 – NENYPGA vs. CNYPGA Challenge Cup at Turning Stone Resort; 20 – NENYPGA Fall Meeting Pro-Pro at Saratoga National GC.