For golf pro and instructor Brody Wetham, it’s all about having fun, enjoying the game, and inspiring life-long golfers. A self-described big kid at heart, he brings that outlook to golfers of all ages across the Niagara region.
The Queenston resident’s philosophy has once again paid dividends. For the third straight year Wetham has been named a U.S. Kids Golf Foundation Top 50 Worldwide kids coach, earning him the Master Kids Coach designation. It’s the highest honour an instructor can receive from U.S. Kids Golf. And the title puts Wetham in rarefied company: since 2008 only 197 coaches in the world have received this honour, and only a handful in Canada can boast to be a master.
Wetham says he’s had his sights set on being named a Master Kids Coach since his mentor, Doug Lawrie of Oakville’s Focus Golf Group, earned the same designation in 2015. “A few years ago, when I first started teaching, he urged me to get certified with this, so I did. It became one of my big goals, and I’m pretty excited about it.”
Wetham, like others in the golf world, are coming off one of the busiest seasons ever. With golf being one of the only recreational and athletic options available for all ages during the pandemic, courses were jammed with people either returning to the game or picking up clubs for the very first time. That includes Wetham’s junior program run out of his Niagara Golf Academy at Sawmill Golf Course in Fenwick.
“I taught full-bore all summer,” he raves. “I was crazy busy. People had time on their hands. Our junior program at Sawmill had over 330 kids and a waiting list. We also did our first full fall program, which took us into late September, and that filled up in three days.”
Wetham continues, “we had more kids who had never touched a club before, because they had been playing baseball or soccer. They came out with their parents, and now they’ve got the bug. Many told me they can’t wait to get back out next summer.”
That meshes perfectly with Wetham’s overall notion of the game. “U.S. Kids is all about making sure they’re having fun. They could be sitting in their basements playing video games. I like to create an environment for them to get out and have fun. And this year it was more important than ever that they get outside and connect with other kids with some physical activity.”
For Wetham, when working with kids, it’s all about skills, drills and games. With COVID protocols there were a few changes to the way he coached the youngsters this summer. Still, Wetham’s program involves kids in games that are group-based and draw on items such as hula hoops, pool noodles, baseballs and frisbees to get them active and enjoying themselves.
“The main thing about golf is when kids want to come back, Mom and Dad begin to come out. Mom takes some lessons, they visit the club house, and golf becomes part of the family fabric. One of the best things is when I go to the range with a new group of kids and I see other kids I taught out there with Mom and Dad.”
The lockdown stage of the pandemic forced Wetham to move to online private lessons last spring, something he plans to continue during the current provincial lockdown.
While a number of his regular students are now involved in competitive golf, he’s clear that not everyone is going to be a Tiger Woods or a Rickie Fowler.
“I’m trying to create golfers,” he asserts. “Hopefully some of these kids will play competitive golf, but it’s more important to me that I create lifetime golfers. I want to teach the average Joe to get better. The adults I teach, if I can get that guy who’s never had lessons before come back and say ‘Brody, I just shot the best game of my life,’ then I’ve done my job.”
During the winter months, Wetham usually continues teaching out of Sawmill, and also at Niagara Golf Warehouse in St. Catharines. He credits Jeremy Julie and his family, owners of Sawmill, and Niagara Golf Warehouse’s Tony Haney and Brad Graham, for their support of his programs. “Right now we’re shut down,” he says. “We should be able to return to Sawmill once we move into the Red Zone, but at the Golf Warehouse, because it’s primarily a retail operation, I can’t teach there until we’re in Orange.”
In the meantime, he will continue developing his own skills as a golf instructor. “I’ll be taking some courses, including a program through PGA Canada for coaching the competitive stream. And I just bought a new Flight Scope, a golf ball launch monitor, so I’ll learn a bit more about how to use that to help enhance my teaching.”
He’ll also continue delivering lessons via FaceTime and Zoom to both kids and adults, and will use his website, niagaragolfacademy.com, to post tips. Unfortunately, his annual trip to Florida for the PGA Show and Convention won’t happen, but he will take part in the virtual version of that event.
Under normal conditions, Wetham would be receiving his Master Award at a ceremony during that convention, but he’ll have to wait until January 2022 for that moment in the spotlight.