Some company owners, once their business is up and running, will turn operations over to employees and make occasional visits to the office. Ferguson is not one of these men. He teaches golf, year round, notching a few thousand lessons annually.
"My main gig is teaching," Ferguson said. "I'm usually close to 2,000 lessons per year. During the peak season, I'm here at the center 14 hours a day. I roll in at 7 a.m., and pull at out 10 p.m, four days a week, then I'm here from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for two days, and I take three days off every three weeks. I try to get some rest during the winter, but just last week I did 35 lessons, and I logged 112 hours of teaching in February. Even when it's cold out, business plugs right along. The only days we can't work outside are when it's 15 degrees out and the wind is blowing right at us, and then we just move inside and work on the simulators. I didn't lose a single day of teaching in 2012."
Even with the full schedule, Ferguson said he would like to log more hours.
"I wish I could do more, especially in the summer," Ferguson said. "But, we've almost sold out every slot for this summer already."
Art of teaching
"What I like most is to just shut the door and teach," Ferguson said. "That's when I lose myself in it. Showing an older player, a guy who's been playing for 30-40 years, how to hit it longer with just a few changes, that's a lot of fun. You'll get a guy in his 60s, who all of a sudden is crushing it, hitting it farther than he did when he was 30."
Ferguson explained that in teaching the game to others, the instructor must tailor the approach for each student so the lesson sinks in.
"We're teaching the same thing to everybody, because the things that make for a good swing don't ever change," Ferguson said. "But, when you've got 14 different types of people, you have to come up with 14 different approaches. Some people like to be in charge, others like to be told how to do it. So, part of our job as instructors is to profile people. It always freaks people out when I can tell them what they do for a living without having asked. You can tell what they do by the way they take instructions. I'd say engineers and lawyers are the hardest to instruct, because they tend to over think things."
With athletes from other sports, who have been hard-wired to do things that might make for a terrible golf swing, some are hard to teach, while others are a breeze.
"With baseball players, hitters are very, very hard to teach," Ferguson said. "They have to un-learn a lot of what they've been taught. Baseball pitchers, they are really easy to teach, because the mechanics of a pitch is really close to a golf swing. Quarterbacks are also very easy for the same reason. It's not a coincidence that there's a load of pitchers and quarterbacks out there with single-digit handicaps. I've found that good tennis players are also easy to teach."
In addition to its year-round teaching schedule, the Churchville Golf Center has garnered national praise for its club-fitting operation. The center was named one of Golf Digest's Top 100 Club Fitters for 2012. The center has won awards from major club manufacturers each year it has been in operation, and Ferguson said that his operation holds more club fitting systems than any in the country. Still, he has things he wants add.
"I'm really proud of what we've done here," Ferguson said. "I'm proud that we've built this up, and that it's not in Myrtle Beach, or Florida, but Harford County. I still want to build a driving range in the back. I think with the growth in Harford County, we could support a world-class range here, and our fitting center could get bigger too."