Professional golf instructor Kevin Haime is so busy teaching at his golf centre and school, he barely has time to play the sport he loves.
“I played twice last summer,” he says sadly. “We're so busy, we have people waiting six weeks for lessons.”
Ironic. Such is the life of Ottawa's best-known golf pro.
In addition to teaching more than 500 private lessons every year, Haime, 57, appears at dozens of seminars, shows and clinics annually. He hosts a weekly golf show on TSN 1200 and writes editorial for Flagstick Gold Magazine. It's challenging for Haime to book time off to have fun on the course.
But he isn't complaining. Accompanied by his wife Lisa, who runs the golf centre and gold school, and his son Jake, who teaches, the Haimes' have built a successful family business in Kanata in Ottawa's west end.
Kevin Haime's Golf Centre isn't your usual backlot driving range. Furnished with high-tech bells and whistles including video replay with top-tracer flight path illustrator and a custom club fitting facility, the golf centre is something of a mecca for serious golfers across Ottawa.
Born into a golfing family – his father was the pro at Hunt Club for 41 years - golf's been in Haime's blood since he was old enough to hold a club. He attended the University of Illinois on a golf scholarship, studied communications and roomed with professional golfer Steve Stricker.
“I wasn't sure of I was going to be a teacher of a golf pro like my dad, or a PGA pro like my brother,” Haime remembers. “I knew I didn't like the lifestyle of a pro, constantly travelling. I'm too much of a homebody. But I didn't necessarily want to be a golf pro the rest of my career. I did see another opportunity. Golf was growing as a business in the 1980s. Ottawa didn't have a premium practice facility. I knew there was room for me as a golf entrepreneur.”
Partnered with his wife Lisa, Haime opened his first golf centre, Double Deck Driving Range in 1990 with $1.6 million he raised through business contacts at Hunt Club. A daunting amount of debt for anyone, especially a newly married 25-year-old.
“The enormity of the debt didn't scare me,” he laughs. “ I was too young to know any better. My success in golf gave me confidence.”
With Lisa, a Carleton University grad, running the business, Haime, to his relief, was free to hone the skills a good teacher needs to succeed; patience, imagination and an ability to communicate complex goals simply.
It didn't take long for Haime to establish a reputation for superior golf lessons and club fitting expertise. He explains it all on his website www.kevinhaime.com
“I've worked all kinds of quirky swings,” he says. “A golf swing is complicated. The key is to keep the lesson simple and use clubs that fit. It's not a one-size fits all thing. Keep it simple, understand priorities and communicate clearly. Too many online teachers are performers trying to impress viewers. When I teach, I focus on the student and their needs. By the end of this year, we'll help 1,000 golfers play better.”
According to Haime, the local market for golf is growing and becoming more diverse, especially amongst the younger generation lured by the technological advances in the game.
“It's changed so much since I started playing,” he says. “Kids are hitting the ball further, straighter because of the advances in the equipment. But the basics are still the same.”
Meanwhile, Haime is quick to add that the golf centre isn't a one-man show. He attributes much of the business's success to his family Lisa, Jake and Jackson for being as committed to the game as the family business. If anything, he sees the business growing with the next generation.
“We each have a strength and stay in our lane, do what we know, and avoid what we don't."
“Golf is my life,” he says. “But at 57, I want to slow down by the time I reach 60 so my son Jake can step up and take over the business. I see myself at 85 teaching three times a week.”