Located in the upscale Roppongi district of Tokyo, and operated by franchisee GDO (Golf Digest Online, Inc.), this is the first of dozens of GolfTEC centers planned for Japan over the next few years. Its opening follows the announcement earlier this year of a long-term expansion program that includes aggressive growth in the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Japan and South Korea, with other markets to come.
The 3,000-square-foot Roppongi studio features five hitting bays utilizing the same GolfTEC software used in the company’s more than 160 improvement centers in North America. Although some of the material had to be modified slightly for the Japanese audience, Director of Instruction and Education Creighton Aotani says the core principles are pure GolfTEC: “What we’re teaching here is the same thing GolfTEC is teaching everywhere,” he says.
Aotani, 43, was born in Hawaii but has been living and working in Japan the last 18 years. A former player on the Japan Tour, Aotani was a JGTO Rules official and an executive with Pacific Golf Management, the world’s second-largest course-management firm, before joining GolfTEC and GDO last year.
The Roppongi center-called a “learning studio” because, says Aotani, “it rings the bell better for the Japanese audience”-officially opened on May 28, 2012. In its first seven weeks the four full-time coaches gave more than 300 swing evaluations
and signed up more than 150 students to long-term instruction programs.
GolfTEC will be successful in Japan, says Aotani, because there is no such personalized and effective teaching presently offered in the country.
“The Japanese tend to be very detail-oriented and love being able to talk numbers and details about the golf swing. So GolfTEC’s fact-based teaching and reliance on data is perfect for them.
“Right now, most of the [non-GolfTEC] teaching here is very old-fashioned. They call it a school but it’s one professional watching over 12 students for an hour. Do the math and that’s less than five minutes per student! Do they really get better? No.
“I’m excited because we can actually make a difference. Golfers can really get better.”
While the GolfTEC philosophy is new to Japan, the amenities in all the new centers will be attuned to the local population.
“In Japan, the level of service is very high. We’re pampered here. So our studio has locker rooms, stretching areas, a lounge, and a pro shop where we sell apparel and other merchandise. Plus we have two female receptionists on duty almost all the time, who also free up the coaches to teach more. And we are already booked nearly 80% of the time.
“We’re already looking at our next center,” Aotani reports, “finding a location and hiring teachers. The plan is to have at least five new centers up in the next two years. We’ll be rolling out our club fitting in the Roppongi studio in July. We are blazing!”
For further information access the GolfTEC web site at www.GolfTEC.com or call (303) 779-9900.