Add Scott Hassee to the list of former Norwalk athletes who have made golf their career choice.
The 2006 Norwalk graduate went on to Ohio Wesleyan, graduating in 2010 with a double major in economics and math. At both venues, he excelled in golf. There was little doubt that if given the opportunity, he would take the sport to still another level.
That chance came right out of Ohio Wesleyan when he took an assistant’s job at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.
“At the time, the Director of Instruction, Hank Johnson, had his nationally known School of Golf there,” Hassee said. “Since then, the school has moved to Timberline Golf Club. But, back at Greystone, I jumped at the chance at getting certified to teach at his school.
“It is a rigorous process that takes months of your spare time to complete, but for me it was well worth the time and energy spent,” he added.
One year after Hassee was certified, the position of Instruction Administrator for the school opened, and again, Hassee was in the right place at the right time. For the last seven years, he has virtually been at Johnson’s side.
Johnson, 76, still teaches every day and according to Hassee is “sharp as a tack.”
Johnson has few peers when it comes to golf instruction. Nationally known for his school and its curriculum, he is a manytime Golf Digest Teacher of the Year. In 2004, he was named the National PGA Teacher of the Year — that being golf’s highest accolade.
Hassee, in addition to scheduling, instructs students as he puts it “from ages 7 to 75” Tuesday through Saturday.
“I teach four to six hours a day,” he said. “Any more than that, an instructor tends to lose focus and at $125 per hour for adults and $85 for juniors, you are probably not giving your student fair value.”
Although the school is mostly individualized instruction, the staff also does spring and fall clinics for juniors, men and women.
Does Hassee believe he has an instructional strength?
“Maybe my ability to work with a student at changing just a couple of flaws I see, flaws that when corrected can carry over to his or her entire game,” he said. “It is something I have learned over the years from Hank Johnson himself.
“Golf is a complex movement that can be narrowed down to a short list of moves that, if instituted properly, without the student knowing it, can fix other areas of the swing,” Hassee added. “The key word is focus — both for the student and the instructor.”
Hassee believes in customizing a program for every student.
“For instance, a teenager has more time to work on his game after a lesson than a doctor,” he said. “So you figure the time constraints for both and do the best you can. We have some high school players who are looking at college golf and spend 30 hours a week practicing. Our goal is for a pupil to see improvement after the first lesson.”
At an annual rate of 2,500 lessons per year from the staff, that is a lot of golf knowledge being taken to the first tee.
Hassee has also become an innovator of sort. His recent bus trip with 40 junior golfers to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta was featured in PGA Magazine.
“I came up with the idea that I could make golf even more indelible in the minds of teenagers if I bussed them to one of the top courses in the south on Tour championship week and let them see what could be their goal,” Hassee said. “So, we have done this, first in a car pool with parents driving us, and more recently by bus.”
And it is not just a stroll outside the ropes for the $125 bus ride. The students are to watch and learn and then fill out an eight-page booklet, a curriculum of sort, with the bottom line being thinking creativity in filling in the blanks.
“It was off the bus directly to the practice area,” he said. “I wanted them to see it was not just mashing golf balls by the professionals. Then it was following players for six or seven holes, with the student jotting down such things as a players course management and how he handled his emotions after a negative happening.”
Hassee also used that venue to present his school awards, including his Payne Stewart award as the highlight of the last tour stop of the season.
Since then the school has given out three awards, their version of the Stewart award, a Vardon trophy for the lowest scoring average of his pupils, and Rookie of the Year award — which is actually The Most Improved award.
“The average improvement for the winner of that Most Improved award is 28 strokes over the course of the year,” Hassee said. “Our average improvement over the eight-month season is just over 10 strokes.”
Hassee, the son of former Norwalk residents Tom and Kathy Hassee (now residing in Tennessee), is married with one child, and a second due in May.