Shauheen Nakhjavani doesn’t know for sure, but he thinks that he teaches more golf lessons than any other person on the planet. Last year, it was around 5,000.
That’s right, 5,000.
That’s a lot of lessons for a guy who has only been a pro for seven years. But when it comes to golf, the Montreal-based instructor has gone from zero to warp speed over a very short period of time.
Today, he’s one of the most successful teachers in the game – even though plenty of golfers have still never heard of him.
In 2013, Nakhjavani was teaching lessons at the nine-hole Nun’s Island Golf Course in Verdun, Que. Today, he has students all over the world and teaches touring pros on the PGA Tour, European Tour, Champions Tour and just about every minor-league circuit in existence.
Dylan Wu, a client who plays on the Korn Ferry Tour, finished second in the season opener this week.
While he sees his professional players in person, the vast majority of his teaching is done online where he’s become a social media star.
“My timeline to where I’ve gotten to is more of a fluke,” he admitted. “I’m still only 30.”
A fluke may have gotten him attention in the early going, but what’s kept him on top is his knowledge of the golf swing, his ability to harness the power of social media and the confidence he exudes in his teaching.
Nakhjavani first went to the golf course when he was about five, tagging along with his father, an immigrant from Iran. The dad started playing even though he admitted he had no idea what was going on. The son didn’t get serious about the game until he was 17.
Nakhjavani broke 100 for the first time at the age of 19. Obsessed by the sport, he posted a 67 two years later. He never took a golf lesson (and still never has), preferring to use his science and math background to solve the mysteries of the golf swing.
That passion for solving the riddle of why a certain swing produces a certain shot drove him to start teaching.
His career really took off in 2016 after a significant knee injury.
“I was playing pretty high-level soccer and one game I tore my ACL,” he explained. “I was forced to sit around and let it heal and I noticed that, outside of YouTube, there wasn’t much instruction being offered on social media.”
He began posting some of his thoughts on Instagram and they began to attract attention. He attracted 25,000 followers in his first year, and began to offer lessons via video.
His big break came in 2016 when he went on a podcast hosted by Mark Immelman, brother of Masters winner Trevor Immelman and himself a fine teacher. The podcast had a huge audience in the U.S., and soon things took off not only with the general public, but also tour players who noticed his work online.
One of those was Canadian Stephen Ames, who reached out to Nakhjavani for some assistance last summer. The two now have a formal relationship and Ames’ game improved quickly as they worked together to fine-tune his swing. Sometimes that’s while they’re together in person, other times it’s done online.
“He’s a very smart guy and he really understands the swing,” Ames said late last year.
For the average Joe looking for help, the process is easy. They send the teacher two swing videos, one from behind and one face on. Nakhjavani reviews it and sends back three different videos: one is a voiceover critique of the current swing; the second is Nakhjavani on camera illustrating the faults of the swing and what they need to change; and the third is him showing drills to make the corrections.
“It’s really all about telling people what the issue is, what the cause of the issue is and how to correct it,” he said. “I want to give players the ability to self-correct.”
He admits that online coaching has some limitations, but they seem minor compared to the convenience.
“I don’t get to see them practice,” he said. “That’s not an issue for the pros I work with, but for the regular students, it would be nice to see them.”
He charges $160 (U.S.) for a lesson or $280 for a four-lesson monthly package.
He regularly puts up before and after shots of his students with an explanation of the changes. It not only gives a pat on the back to a hard-working student, but it drives other golfers who are looking for help to his services.
The meteoric rise has spawned lots of different opportunities for Nakhjavani. He teaches at Mystic Pines Golf Course in Kahnawake, Que., in the summer and operates his own indoor facility in Saint-Laurent, Que., in the winter. He also works with an America-based online coaching service called Course Kings and has his own podcast.
So why has he been able to come so far, so quickly?
“I’m very confident in my knowledge of the swing,” said Nakhjavani. “I believe in what I’m doing and that I can help people.”
So far, that formula is working. Those 5,000 students can’t be wrong.