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Shelby Futch: A CEO With A Passion To Teach Golf

Shelby Futch
Shelby Futch

Think of the best teacher you ever had. What made him or her great? It likely wasn't their knowledge or diction or their wardrobe. It was very likely the passion they brought to the art of teaching.

Shelby Futch is THAT kind of teacher. Futch is the CEO and founder of the Scottsdale Golf Group, which includes the John Jacobs Golf Schools. Jacobs, who is English, was an early partner of Futch's. A renowned golfer in his own right in his time, Jacobs is in his 80's now and lives in England.

But Shelby Futch lives in Mesa, Arizona and still teaches, even when he's not getting paid for it. What he did over 25 years ago was virtually 'invent' an industry. The golf school/vacation package. He started it in his garage with a card table and rotary phone. Booking people into his growing number of golf schools around the country, and booking their flights and hotels and car rentals all at the same time. He's grown some from the card table. More than two dozen school locations, he owns and operates golf courses, and next week launches an online booking site to compliment his call center for golf/vacation travelers.

Yes, Shelby Futch has built himself a very nice little golf 'empire', a golf brand. He partners with Marriott around the country. But what he loves most, is to teach. Look, I'm interviewing the guy and happen to turn away for a second and he's wondered off to help somebody on the range with his or her swing!

We're driving away in our carts, off to the next location, and he's still standing there, helping a lady with her chipping. Are you kidding me? No. He's a teacher. Nothing moves him, 'lights him up', like helping someone get better at the game he loves. It's a game he discovered when his dad won a set of clubs in a poker game in West Texas when Shelby was 14. His dad didn't play golf but Shelby took the clubs and since he didn't have a golf ball, started hitting tennis balls. He got good at it, but it was a helluva surprise when he joined the high school golf team and found out he had to hit that little ball!

He had a mediocre professional career and then, to quote him, decided that if he 'wanted to live indoors' he'd have to find a way to make a living. Teaching was the way. He even gets emails....emails!!!!!!..from former students who want him to fix their swing on his BlackBerry! He does.

How good is he? I play golf once a year. He watched me swing four times. He suggested I adjust the way I use my driver. I hit a few. He shook his head yes, said a few words of encouragement, and left. I played golf immediately afterwards. I hit every fairway. Every one. Broke 90 on a par 72, 6600 yard course. This is a golfer, me, who often can't find his 9 iron, let alone hit the fairway.

What did he tell me? Oh no. It's my secret. If you really want to know you can always send Shelby an email on his BlackBerry. He's always ready to teach. Wow. 18 fairways. Are you kidding me??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Off to Montana. See you along the road. Fore!

Questions? Comments? mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com

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