James Gurry is the owner of the Golf Shaq – a garden studio coaching facility based in Chelmsford, featuring a Foresight Sports indoor golf simulator and GCQuad launch monitor.
Golf Retailing’s Dan Owen caught up with James to find out how he transformed his former garden shed into a stunning swing studio, powered by the industry-leading launch monitor and golf simulation technology.
Why did you choose to have an indoor studio?
For the last six or seven years I’ve been the Assistant Secretary of the Essex Golf Union. I enjoy what I do for the golf union, running various events, and helping introduce the World Handicap System; however, I’ve missed the coaching side of the business. I’ve always coached a small number of clients, but it was tricky with no home facility to coach from. So I got one built in my garden!
Tell us about your set-up.
From what was a garden shed, it’s become a fully operational golf studio. We started building it in December 2020, and the studio was finished and up and running by the beginning of March 2021.
The shed was built by a fantastic builder who is a member at my club, then Foresight Sports Europe came in to install the simulator. They installed all the simulator components, and set up GCQuad and the software. I’ve been working with James Cooper there for the last 18 months; I must have been a right headache for him! But only because it’s a big investment, and you have to do your research. I’m really pleased with how the studio has turned out.
How does the GCQuad get used?
It gets used in every single lesson. The package I went for allows for club-head measurement. And I use that and add the dots to the clients’ clubs for every lesson. I find it gives you such a detailed picture of what is going on that it is essential for coaching, as well as for club-fitting. It’s easier to express what the player is doing as the info is immediate after they hit a shot. And within a couple of lessons, maybe even within the first lesson, they understand more than they did at the beginning. I wouldn’t teach without it now, as it makes my job easier.
How has having the studio and the new technology helped your coaching?
I believe the technology helps illustrate to the player what they are doing, and we can find solutions to help them, rather than them changing their swing to fit someone else’s idea of the golf swing. Within a couple of shots, we can have objective data that shows the changes I make are coming into effect – it’s not a case of eyeballing a shot down-range on a miserable day. Some players are skeptical, but I can hit specific shots in a lesson that show how accurate the GCQuad is, whether that is a low fade or a soft high draw. And once they trust the data they can see you’re an honest pro, and not just trying to sell them something.
As well as helping my coaching, it’s helped me with my own game. That was the other reason for the studio. In 2002, I broke my back and both my legs. And physically I’m unable to do things that I should be able to do at my age. I’ve been restricted because my spine is fused. I’ve never played as much golf as I should. And I just thought it’s about time I did something about that, as otherwise, I’m going to find myself giving up the game I love. I felt my golf was just dripping away through my fingers. And I wanted to get back to a level where I felt I could compete, and the studio does that perfectly.
What made you choose Foresight technology over other options?
There are a number of factors that made me eventually invest my hard-earned cash in a GCQuad, but the deciding factor was the way it works. It’s a camera-based system so it takes photographic evidence to capture the data. I don’t believe I’ve personally had one miss-read hitting balls on there.
I’m also massively impressed by the level of service from Foresight. Yes, this is a premium product, but if I have any issues I know there will be someone on the end of the phone to help. Their customer care is exemplary. The installers were fantastic. And as an ex-salesman who hates salesmen, James Cooper at Foresight has done very well to remain someone I want to work with.
What would be your advice to anyone without a studio / simulator?
I don’t believe you can coach as well without one. If you haven’t got a launch monitor and coaching is what you want to do, then I can’t see any way forward other than finding a device you trust and invest in it. The same goes for custom-fitting. For actual raw pure data, you need a launch monitor.
I wasn’t trying to create a huge amount of business because my main focus is obviously my primary job. This was purely something that I wanted to sort of drip-feed into my life to give me time to play. And the demand has been quite overwhelming. But it has given me so much flexibility. I gave a lesson at 7am the other morning. Having a studio has offered me so much more flexibility in what I do. And while it is a significant outlay, so is paying for a space at a driving range.