About Mike (a.k.a. The Golf Yoda)
Born in Bermuda, Mike Dowd relocated to California at a very early age. A graduate of California State University of Sacramento with a B.A. in Art & Design, he turned professional at the age of 20, wanting a head start on a career in the game; a career path that had been a goal of his since first picking up a club at the age of seven. Mike has been teaching golf professionally for 23 years, was elected a P.G.A. Class A Member in 1997, and has been the Head P.G.A. Professional at Oakdale Golf & Country Club since 2001.
Mike spent his early teaching career studying the mechanics of the golf swing and a range of different teaching philosophies, with inspiration coming from legendary P.G.A. Instructors Bill Strausbaugh, Mike Hebron, Dean Reinmuth, and Mac O’Grady. An additional influence during this period came from studying the swing of Ben Hogan and the art of golf course design under the tutelage of Former P.G.A. Tour Player, Golf Course Architect, and personal friend of Hogan’s Bert Stamps. Being exposed to a broad range of styles and studying their effectiveness with different types of students, Mike began to settle in on a core teaching philosophy that embraced the individuality of every golfer’s uniquely authentic swing; a philosophy that establishes that there is no one way to swing the club that is the right way for all people. Each golfer possesses a natural swing for their body type, physical capabilities, and sense of personal rhythm; one which he or she has the best chance of repeating once you remove the tension created by expectations and preconceived notions about the right way to swing the golf club.
It was during this early period as well, that Mike began to develop a comprehensive Junior Golf Program which incorporated the idea that fun + fundamentals + friendship creates a culture that fosters a love for the game and an atmosphere of fierce but friendly competition among peers. As a result of this formula, his programs and camps, and his coaching, he has seen former students go on to attain golf scholarships and play collegiately at USC, UOP, USF, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, Hawaii, C.S.U. Sacramento and Chico as well as on both men’s and ladies professional tours and to become members of the P.G.A. of America. After continual refinement of these programs over the years, he successfully launched the Acorn Academy for the competitive Jr. Golfer in 2011. A program for Jr. Golfer’s ages 9 to 19 that desire to play competitively and advance their educational goals through the game of golf.
In the past decade Mike has shifted his primary focus in teaching the game from refining his swing theory and how to coach and communicate to players of all learning styles, to studying the process by which elite level golfers and athletes in every sport separate themselves from the masses. By developing relationships with and studying the work of top sports psychologists, researching the work of coaches and experts in every sport, and following the most cutting edge work in brain and behavioral science he has attained an extensive level of knowledge and perspective about the mental side of the game. Using this knowledge, he developed GOLF IN MIND, a unique coaching program that teaches the most important mental game skills and habits that elite performers possess. This program helps aspiring competitive golfers and players of all levels to develop the optimal mindset for competition as well as to get past specific mental blocks that can be keeping them from getting their games to the next level.
At present Mike is serving his second 3 year term on the Northern California P.G.A. Board of Directors and is the Chairman of their Public Relations & Communications Committee. He is an active volunteer within his community as a Commissioner on the City of Turlock’s Parks & Recreation and Community Services Commission as well as a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock. He has a passion for writing and through the encouragement of the ever-widening readership of his weekly Golf is Life Column, he has begun writing his first book. In his spare time (when there is any), he enjoys playing golf with his two daughters and reading and listening to audiobooks on the subjects of psychology, sports psychology, coaching, and personal development and he is always on the look-out for suggestions on his next read.