Matt McLean spent his whole life learning golf from the best.
He first learned from his father, Jim McLean, the 1994 National PGA Teacher of the Year and a member of five organizations' halls of fame.
Matt said his father let him find his own style while not “doing anything crazy.” He did though, though, to help his son earn a golf scholarship to Wake Forest University.
It was at Wake Forest, from 2003-2007, where two things happened. First, McLean realized his dream of playing professionally were coming to an end. At the same time, McLean watched his Wake Forest teammates play. Those teammates happened to include future PGA Tour stars Webb Simpson and Bill Haas.
“They are on another level,” McLean said. “One of the best things you can do is watch how they (PGA Tour players) do things, and the different ways to have success. Haas is a ball striker. Watching him on the range was special. Watching Simpson on the range, you think, ‘Maybe I can beat him,’ but he has an incredible short game. He also liked to practice a lot, and Haas did not.”
McLean took the knowledge of his father and the experience of playing with two future pros, and became a teacher himself.
It was a good move. In October, the 34-year-old director of instruction at Concession Golf Club was named one of Golf Digest’s 114 “Best Young Teachers in America,” a feature that runs every two years. McLean said it is his third time making the list, which is determined by the magazine’s editorial board after initial nominations (by a professional player or a previous honoree) and an application process.
“It means a lot,” McLean said. “There are a lot of great teachers on the list, and it is nice that potential students can see it.”
McLean started at Concession three years ago, after being invited to the club’s annual Clambake tournament. He currently spends his summers teaching at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., and the rest of the time at Concession, but McLean said he is trying to make Concession even more of his primary focus.
In the past he has taught PGA Tour players, including two-time major championship winner Simpson and Keegan Bradley, whom McLean instructed during Bradley’s 2011 season, when he won the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and the PGA Championship.
His Concession students vouch for McLean’s magic touch.
“He is patient and can describe things in a simple way,” student Sherry Cassidy said. “It helps that he can actually play, too. He has given me the confidence to take my game from the driving range to the course.”
Student Andrew Allen said McLean has a good personality for a teacher and does not try to force his style on you, instead offering “a bunch of different ways to get there.”
McLean said his ability to read golfers and figure out what will work for them is a big part of his success.
McLean said students interested in taking lessons can email him at [email protected], and that lessons are open to Concession members and nonmembers.
Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.