Tag Archives: Teaching Golf

Episode 76: Gamification Makes Learning The Golf Swing Fun | Nancy Dunn Kato, Published Author and CEO at SwingPlay.com

Nancy Dunn-Kato is a very well respected golf instructor, one ot the top junior golf instructors in the country. In our interview she talks about the gamification of teaching the golf swing; how she makes these simple little games to help kids learn the golf swing. There’s a movement in education about gamification, working to make the learning experience more fun and enjoyable.
Nancy Dunn-Kato of SwingPlay.com talks about the Gamification of the Golf Swing
Nancy Dunn-Kato has been a Certified Class A LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Member since 1989. She has played and taught golf for over 24 years.

Nancy’s company SWINGplay and its concepts are a direct result of her dedicated work with junior golfers and a real, practical, understanding of what works best. SWINGplay’s unique programs are specifically designed to focus the learning needs of young and adult golfers at all levels from beginner to advanced players. The SWINGplay systems and methods reinforce the play in golf – to keep the learning experience fun, positive, and filled with success that grows naturally out of children’s play. Skill and ability grow quickly through the game-play!

SwingPlay fun ways to teach the golf swing.Zeb’s Take

It’s obvious that Nancy really understands the golf swing, and how to teach the golf swing. She made a lot of good points; young golfers teaching other young golfers how to play the game and how young kids can teach parents and how valuable that can be and how you can bring the family together.

The thing she talked about that I want to expand on is making the golf swing fun. She talked about breaking it down into little smaller components, and then teaching that in a fun game type of way – gamification. She’s talking about making rainbows, knocking out shark’s teeth, dragons, Leprechauns, shooting spray guns. I’ve actually had a chance to see some of the stuff she is talking about and it’s very cool. I can see how young people can accept and understand it all very quickly because of the way she sets up these little games.

In education, we get so much information from so many different resources. Before the internet, teachers were more on their own. Now, there’s someone like Nancy who creates this killer program about how to teach the golf swing to young kids. She can take that and give that to golf instructors across the country and they can understand. I think this gamification of learning coincides with our social culture and the way that we are able to share knowledge today. It really enhances the learning experience, I think education needs to go that way. Having a teacher that stands in front of a class and lectures is like if Nancy were a golf instructor that stood there and just tells you what you’re doing wrong. Versus, talking about rainbows and dragons, you can imagine the difference that would have on a little child. You can teach the golf swing, just like you can teach anything else, through this gamification process.

What do you think about this gamification process?

Find out more about gamification of the golf swing, Nancy, and SwingPlay

Visit SwingPlay.com or email Nancy at Nancy@SwingPlay.com


  • “It was really frustrating. I never wanted anyone to feel that way. I believed in my heart that I could find a way to make it much more easy for other people.”
  • “Golf has been made too hard to understand and it doesn’t have to be that way; it could be easier.”
  • “I love teaching teachers.”
  • “They’re learning and they don’t even know their learning. That’s the fun part.”
  • “I really really wanted to create something different.”
  • “People helping people and using golf as a way to get the community together.”
  •  “I just wanted to make something that makes the world a little better.”



More From the Interview

Nancy got involved in golf in college when a couple cute guys invited her to play at Torrey Pines. She borrowed a pair of clubs that morning and finished the day with a couple pars. When she told her golf buddies it was her first day, they were impressed. She checked out the golf scene and had the idea to become a pro in one year. She found a golf instructor, worked hard and reached her goal in a year and a half. She made several mini tours and was on the top ten list.

After her swing, put a coke can on her pitching wedge and she had to balance it, that was the start of all the games she began creating. It was about finding a way to make it fun after the lesson so she could understand it.

“When we were on the mini tour, none of us could afford golf lessons. So whoever would go get a golf lesson they would come and teach us what they learned.”

She got to train with Derek Hardy, who taught her a lot, she could have gone on and qualified for the tour, but she wanted to get better and shoot under par more often, but that wasn’t happening. She changed her path.

Golfs Greenland Book by Nancy Dunn-KatoShe wanted to become a teacher, so she could understand why the lessons were so confusing. “I would cry in front of Derek Hardy all the time, because I couldn’t understand what he was saying. It was really frustrating. I never wanted anyone to feel that way. I believed in my heart that I could find a way to make it much more easy for other people.”

She joined the LPGA, started as an apprentice, and was able to move up. She was lucky to be able to study under Chuck Hogan. He was part of the LPGA teaching them how to become better teachers. He was all about making things fun, and to do it through games. When she asked him how to be a better teacher, he said don’t just tell people what to do, they need to know why they should do it.

She started on a path where I broke down the whole game.

“It’s just taking old terminologies and making everything easier and something that people can put their thoughts around and understand really quickly and it’s kind of amazing if you can use games or sensory perceptive play, which is what I love to do.”

What is SwingPlay?
She took every part of the game and separated it into modules. Then broke it down into simple understandable sensory perception with a skill game, a sound game or anything with the senses. She uses story telling. With young kids she teaches them how to make rainbows and their club is the paint brush; there’s all kinds of different rainbows for the different golf swings. She is telling them how to make rainbows, but they’re learning about a golf swing.

Kids have hands-on experiences and they become more self aware. They get to experiment all through play and self discovery. The kids have a great time. They’re learning and they don’t even know they’re learning. That’s the fun part.

She says, the educators of the world, they get it. It’s the 21st century of learning; it’s more hands on and discovery, let the people figure it out for themselves.

I’ve had high school kids and college kids help mentor these younger kids with table top projects. These kids get to be mentors and as they are helping the younger kids they are learning too.

What do you enjoy most about teaching golf?
Watching people’s reaction when they get it.

What life lessons and values do you think golf teaches?
Patience, love, respect. One thing about a golf course is, it’s like a park, it’s green and beautiful. Teach them to pick up trash and take care of the golf green. It’s a place where kids can go and be in nature.

Her book, Golf Greenland, is a 4 hour lesson all about putting, through story-telling and games. The fundamentals you learn in putting just go larger as you go up the game.

She wants to find a good home for her program. She’s really excited that Newport Beach YMCA is excited about it. She’d like to see it at more places libraries, schools, and places like restaurants. Maybe even try to standardize golf using everything she has created, make it more fun and get more people involved.



Episode 67: The Learning Experience | Fred Shoemaker from Extraordinary Golf

In Episode 67 of the Defining Success Podcast, Fred discusses what he’s learned teaching golf and how people tend to learn best and enjoy the experience when they are allowed to learn for themselves.  As a coach, Fred avoids passing judgement and simply guides his students to be more aware of their experience during the process.  Learn how Fred Shoemaker cultivates the best learning experience.

Fred Shoemaker Extraordinary Golf The Learning Experience

Fred Shoemaker

Fred Shoemaker is the founder of Extraordinary Golf which provides an environment where golfers could know their remarkable ability and learn to unfold it moment to moment.  The school has been named One of America’s Top 25 Golf Schools in America by Golf Magazine and has been a life-changing experience for many participants.

Fred has spent most of his career—over 42,000 lessons, and thousands of golf schools and workshops—helping people overcome the obstacles that prevent them from discovering and expressing their potential.

Fred fell in love with golf at an early age and at some point he realized that there was a lot more to the game than just the golf swing.  He was a coach at UCSB in 1975 and has been involved in the game for a long time.

Fred’s Dad was in the military and they were stationed in Guam at an early age and he began visiting the golf course regularly where he fell in love with it.  Fred was not fascinated in playing golf professionally, but he became fascinated with coaching the sport.

Sometimes golfers need to look at what they do before and after they get on the golf course to help improve their game.

Fred knows that his first ready-made answers don’t help people.  Letting people experience the learning process is the real key to success in learning and education.  Since 1950 human beings are not getting better at golf. The learning experience is a key component to learning and happiness.

Anybody who has developed anything has gone through a lot of failures along the way.

Extraordinary golf focuses on the individual and works with each golfer individually.  Extraordinary golf helps to capture people when they do something that is extraordinary.  The basis of extraordinary golf is awareness.  Human beings are capable of accomplishing anything as long as they are aware.

Transformations are difficult.  Fred has been a part of some remarkable transformations and to watch people undergo those transformations is profound.  Fred has been able to change the way golfers think about their swing and how they respond to positive and negative thoughts.  Through that he has witnessed many transformations.

Golf is a game where you can keep improving well into your seventies. We have a sport that can teach us something about life if we choose to learn from it.

One of the biggest mistakes Fred feels he has made is not acknowledging the people who have had an impact on his life.  The connectivity of all of us is undeniable and he feels like he’s a link in a chain and he intends to be the strongest link in the chain he can be.

There are some people who have chosen a purpose to play golf and for those people who have found a reason to play golf that makes sense . . . they have won the game.

Fred Shoemaker from Extraordinary Golf Talking About the Learning Experience

Fred Shoemaker

Discussion Questions:

  • Would you like a life of endless interest or endless boredom?

Links to Great Stuff:

  • Extraordinary Golf – “Extraordinary Golf challenges the cultural views on learning. We’ve come to see that golfers are far more able than they believe. But, they haven’t learned to develop–or access– what they have.”

Success Quotes:

  • “Success is to be up for something bigger than what your life is about . . . to have a cause that’s worth giving your life to.”
  • “There is no such thing as a bad day in gratitude and appreciation.”
  • “Really successful people always interpret the world in a way that empowers them.”
  • “How we interpret life . . . is what changes our world.”
  • “When one changes one’s language you actually physically change your body.”
  • “If you rob people of their failures, you rob them of their future.”
  • “The golf swing is the most analyzed human motion in recorded history.”
  • “Sometimes the questions make the difference and not the answers.”
  • “The way we do one thing is the way we do other things.”

Visit the website for our new book, The Social Golf Course.

Extraordinary Golf by Fred Shoemaker

Extraordinary Golf by Fred Shoemaker