Our Timeline: Developing a Quality Golf Teaching Program
Chris Aoki, PGA Professional
How the Story Began
At five years old, Chris Aoki spent hours at the golf course watching her father practice with friends. The combination of practice and fun made the golf course her favorite place. She was given a small bucket of balls at age nine and immediately knew there was something special about hitting a golf ball.
At ten, she thought about teaching golf someday. She grew up studying at Cornish School for fourteen years and understood the value of master class instruction. She wanted to apply the same quality experience of one-on-one and class instruction to a life-long dream of teaching golf.
At the UW, Chris played on the first Husky women’s golf team coached by Edean Ihlanfeldt and was awarded one of the first scholarships for women. She learned that there is more to golf than technique. The experience taught her how to compete, persevere and practice efficiently.
After graduating, her mission was to be the best golf teacher she could be. She worked at Sahalee, Mill Creek and Bear Creek, private country clubs that gave her opportunities to teach outside and in a studio. She became a member of the PGA of America and is the first woman PGA member in Western Washington.
Fitting Golf Clubs
To become a better teacher, Chris would study advances in teaching and technology. The benefits of club fitting were, at first, a controversy, but she could see how golf clubs should fit an individual’s golf swing. Chris began fitting in 1979. She became a Certified Professional Henry-Griffitts Fitter in 1985 and later became an H-G Master Golf Club Fitter. She became interested in how swing motion changed with club design and conducted a study of its affects on clubface centerness of contact. She later gave PGA seminars on her findings.
She received the James Griffitts award, the highest award given, for care and concern for students. She spent time training other golf professionals on the West Coast and was invited to teach club fitting to PGA and LPGA professionals in Australia. In 1994, Chris began teaching at Harbour Pointe Golf Club where she was able to hold more golf schools and include club fitting as part of her school curriculum. She owns a covered teaching area there.
Founder of Fit2Aim LLC
In 1980, Carl Welty invited Chris to help him during a golf clinic. He asked her to use a laser to show golfers where they are aiming with different golf clubs. Intrigued, she continued to conduct studies with the laser to document putting tendencies and study how different putter designs influence aim and an improved putting stroke.
By 1988 she used the laser regularly to help students pick the most accurately aimed putter. She developed a methodology for fitting putters, the Chris Aoki Putter Fitting Method, and eventually teamed with Henry-Griffitts and founded Fit2Aim, a putter fitting and manufacturing company. Fit2Aim is going strong, helping golfers putt with less thinking and lowering scores.
Meeting Kirk Smith
Chris met Kirk in 1991. She signed up for a West Coast swing dance class where he was the instructor. She invited him to teach a dance class at a social event at the country club where she worked and he, in turn, took a golf lesson. She lent him a used golf club for practice but soon fit him with Henry-Griffitts clubs. He commented that he thought anything would be fine so Chris handed him his used club after fitting him with specifications that fit him. He could no longer swing properly or even get the ball airborne.
Two years later, he became a Henry-Griffitts Certified Professional Fitter and is the 2010 a recipient of the James Griffitts Award. His fitting and teaching were an integral part of their 3-day golf schools and lesson program. They are a team at work and home and Chris refers to Kirk as her other half.
The GolfBook for Kids
A big publishing house back East wanted to have a book written about golf for children. Chris and co-author Jim Corbett (Mr. Golf Etiquette) were asked to send an outline along with forty other writers in golf. Chris and Jim were awarded the contract and wrote The GolfBook for Kids published in 2000.
The book helps children and beginners become immersed in the language of golf and includes over 75 photos and illustrations explaining parts of the golf course, clubs, simple technique, etiquette and common rules. Chris added a study supplement of games and quizzes from the book. Golf professionals use the book and the supplements referred to as The Goodie Bag for junior golf camps. It is the first book of its kind.
Chris Aoki Golf Training Academy
Chris and Kirk always felt a need for an indoor studio to complement their outdoor lessons. There is more that can be accomplished by students in the proper learning environment. They felt limited with only an outdoor area to teach.
In 2008, Chris Aoki Golf Training Academy opened. It is a dream come true with 3-Trak aboutGolf simulator, virtual ball flight, video, 1,500 sq. ft. of putting turf, Explanar and Rotex equipment for golf fitness. The way golfers learn and perform has now changed. Improvement happens right away.
MPG Pre-Lesson Training: A Gigantic Leap to Improvement
Kirk participated in several sports growing up. In high school, he played soccer, tennis and was a diver on the swim team. At Cal Lutheran University, where he graduated with a BA in art, he lettered in soccer for four years. His first career was teaching ballroom and other social dances. Always maintaining an active lifestyle, Kirk decided to pursue certification as a fitness trainer specializing in golf fitness.
He has a very busy schedule of training golfers at the academy. He develops rotational flexibility and strength using Rotex. Consistency and power are created in the golf swing through proper posture, working specific muscle groups, balance training and ballistic action. Chris uses the student’s new-found ability to build the appropriate technique in the golf swing. Results happen right away and are long-lasting.
Chris and Kirk have developed an exceptional indoor program of MPG (Muscle Performance for Golf), lessons and club and putter fitting with many years of experience, dedication to quality master level instruction and state-of-the-art teaching equipment.
The combination of indoor programs and outdoor lessons, golf schools, playing lessons and fitting offers a wide range of opportunity to meet specific goals and play your best golf.
A big thank you to Page Tanagi for his beautiful graphic design work and Clayton Christy for keeping us posted on the latest Mac news.