For the second straight year, St. Davids resident Brody Wetham has been honoured as a worldwide Top 50 Kids Coach by U.S. Kids Golf, the world’s leading organization in developing young golfers.
Wetham is one of only two Canadian instructors to receive the honour for 2019. The rest of the Top 50 is filled out with instructors from 25 U.S. states and six other countries.
Wetham, who runs the Niagara Golf Academy at Fenwick’s Sawmill Golf Course, will be recognized by U.S. Kids Golf next week at the annual PGA Show at the Orange County Convention Centre in Orlando, Florida.
Wetham turned professional in 1998, having completed his PGA of Canada apprenticeship in Niagara. The Brock University graduate made the move to full-time teaching about six years ago.
During the winter, Wetham teaches out of the Niagara Golf Warehouse on Dunlop Drive in St. Catharines. His summers, though, are filled with 50- to 60-hour weeks, providing instruction to more than 60 students, at least half of whom are youth.
Wetham’s enthusiasm for developing tomorrow’s golfers is clear when you meet him. He proudly speaks of the many youngsters, aged five to 13, who get their first taste of competitive golf through the local U.S. Kids Tour, run by Travis Glass of Eagle Valley Golf Club in St. Davids.
He also points out that a number of his students are now playing on the Niagara District Junior Tour. In all, 22 of Brody’s young students are playing some form of competitive golf.
Perhaps the most accomplished of Wetham’s students would be Alexander McGee, of Stoney Creek. McGee is in his first year on a golf scholarship at Eastern University near Philadelphia. Wetham has been coaching McGee for over three years now. The relationship, though, didn’t end when his student left for Pennsylvania.
“I do an on-line program with him,” says Wetham. “He sends me videos from down there. I’ll ask him to show me some of his putting, some of his chipping, and I add the technology in my repertoire to break it down, see what’s going on.”
As proud as he is of McGee earning the scholarship, Wetham brags just as much about the young golfer’s performance as a freshman in the classroom, earning a 3.6 grade point average in his first term.
Another highlight this summer for Wetham was the organization of the inaugural Can-Am International Junior Cup. The two-day match play event brought his junior program together with that of another U.S. Kids Top 50 coach, Chip Ranco, of Haworth Country Club out of New Jersey.
Wetham’s squad came out on top that weekend, 20-15. More importantly, though, he feels it was a chance for both coaches to take their youth programs to the next level. He plans to accompany a group of kids to New Jersey next August with the aim of defending the title.
A quick look at Wetham’s Instagram account (@niagaragolfacademy) proves his commitment to youth golf. Post after post features smiling kids working on their swings, many using the U.S. Kids teaching tools and equipment that he employs to make the game fun.
He believes strongly in the U.S. Kids curriculum, and uses a number of different tools to both keep kids engaged in golf, and to help people of all ages with their game.
At last year’s PGA Show in Florida, he invested about $4,000 in a BodiTrak force and pressure analysis tool to help analyze body mechanics. He also uses a number of apps on his iPad to enhance his instruction.
Wetham is excited about being back in Orlando next week.
“The show is overwhelming,” he enthuses. “It’s a million square feet of golf. It’s an industry-only show, so you have to be in the golf industry to go. I’m like a kid in a candy story, meeting people, talking, taking seminars, buying some products.”
Of course, he’s also looking forward to the ceremony on Jan. 25, when Wetham and 49 other golf instructors from around the world will be honoured with their Top 50 awards.
However, he’s already looking beyond next weekend’s event.
“I was nominated the last two years for the Ontario PGA Junior Leader of the Year Award, and I didn’t get it. Hopefully, next year, three will be the charm for that award. And then, if I get my three years with U.S. Kids, I’ll get my Masters Level for that organization. This is one of my big goals, that I wanted to have those two opportunities.”
The U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Awards will be streamed live Wednesday, Jan. 22, from the PGA Show in Orlando via Facebook Live, on the U.S. Kids Golf Facebook page.