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Teacher of the Year Award Goes to Bob Dickman of the North Shore Elite Golf Academy

By Tim Cronin

Over three decades as a teaching professional, Bob Dickman’s outlook on teaching has changed.

“In my younger years, teaching was about trying to become the best teacher for personal gains, but teaching is much more than that,” Dickman wrote in his Teacher of the Year nomination submission. “It is about the student, and the emphasis is on the student. In all of my teaching, I try to create an environment that allows them to learn. Everything I do is to put the emphasis on them and off me.

“The game of golf is grown personally, one student at a time.”

For Dickman, his half-hours and hours on the tee with student after student add up to over a thousand hours annually at Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook, where his North Shore Elite Golf Performance Academy is located.

This year, after a half-dozen previous nominations, they’ve also added up to the Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year Award.

Dickman, a 1984 graduate of Northern Illinois, has taught everyone from LPGA Tour winners, including five-time major winner Betsy King, to regular Joes and Jills, young and old alike.

“Whether a professional, competitive amateur, mid- to high-handicapper or junior player, I try to bring passion, knowledge and cutting-edge technologies to improve a player’s performance,” Dickman said.

That includes everything from the Trackman 4 to certifications from seven different seminars over the last six years, plus every level the Titleist Performance Institute offers.

In other words, Dickman not only knows his stuff, he knows which technical stuff is worth using to coax better play out of his students. And he goes beyond that.

“My students are given a complete game analysis which includes a Trackman Combine, current handicap assessment, complete short game testing, mental profile and complete physical assessment, which often relies on one of my medical partners,” Dickman explained. “This Performance Plan is the cornerstone to success. Think of it as a blueprint for the student’s future in golf.

“My programs stress that golf is a lifelong game and teaches players to use golf in all areas of their lives as a vehicle for fun and social interaction.”

Along with the individual lessons, Dickman has what he calls an “adult coaching” program and includes team practice and one private lesson weekly.

“The excitement of mid-lifers getting back to their competitive playing days through these programs brings them to a new level in golf,” Dickman said. “They always want to play and compete. The drills are designed to challenge players with a slight level of discomfort, the perfect environment for the membrane myelin to wrap around a never ending and retain a memory.”

As the last sentence indicates, Dickman sees the game – and teaching – differently than many. That’s why he has a pair of doctors and a fitness expert on his team.

“Because I teach people to play better golf and take care of themselves, they begin to weave this lifestyle into the fabric of their lives,” Dickman said. “The programs that I teach are based on long term athletic development and a reliance on the Growth Velocity Curve.”

Dickman has volunteered to teach golf at Christian Heritage Academy in Northfield for a decade, and has devoted time to running the ALS Classic, a fund-raising tournament, for an equal amount of time.

“One player with ALS whom I instructed broke 90 on one leg three times in 2014. He has since passed from this awful disease, but the joy he experienced through golf during his last days was overwhelming,” Dickman recalled.

That meant as much to Dickman as any of the titles his players have won.

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