It’s been a great start to the year for Woodcrest Country Club golf pro Steve Sieracki.
During the last week in January, he was named a Top 50 Golf Coach at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida, by the development program Operation 36. That followed on the heels of Golf Digest proclaiming Sieracki the fourth-best coach in the entire Garden State, as well as one of the best teachers under 40 for the fourth year in a row.
According to a release announcing Sieracki’s honor, coaches are evaluated by their use of formal golf matches throughout the year, application of the Operation 36 curriculum, assessments of golfer progress throughout the season and the use of online social tools to encourage more practice and play.
“This was not an easy task to narrow down the list of coaches running Operation 36 to the top 50,” organization co-founder Ryan Dailey in the release. “There are so many coaches delivering fantastic experiences for beginner golfers using Operation 36 around the world.”
Although he didn’t attend the PGA show, Sieracki said receiving the award wasn’t a complete surprise. Operation 36 sent out a formal email about a month before.
“I’ve known about this program for a long time,” he noted. “Ryan and co-founder Matt (Reagan) are friends of mine. Over time, we talked back and forth; they contacted me for stuff about older golfers, and I contacted them for stuff about younger golfers.
“It’s such an awesome program on how to grow the game.”
Tempted to puff out his chest a bit at his newfound recognition, Sieracki seems to be taking it all in stride, merely appreciative of his contemporaries’ attention.
“It’s awesome, because all of these awards are peer based, so they’re saying you’re that good and to see that hard work pay off is so rewarding,” he offered.
The lifelong Cherry Hill resident grew up on the northwest side of the township and attended what is now Resurrection Catholic School, before heading to Bishop Eustace Prep. He celebrated his one-year anniversary at Woodcrest the first weekend of this month, after a five-year stint at Burlington Country Club and four years with Indian Spring Country Club.
Sieracki set down roots with his wife and son in Woodcrest, for some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.
“Other than distance, just the fact that it’s an upscale facility,” he explained of the club. “I’m glad to see money spent on building a state-of-the art indoor facility, and they hired a guy I knew from over at Tavistock.”
Sieracki first became interested in golf around age 10, and started to get serious when he was about 13, attending a lot of tournaments ahead of his days at Eustace. From there, he initially chose Arizona State for its pro golf management program, but headed home after his freshman year and finished his collegiate career at La Salle from 2006-2008. It was there that he first found a niche as an instructor.
“Well, I was always a fan of helping people out, and I found that I liked it more than working on my own game,” the golf pro said. “In my final year at La Salle, I did that more than practicing anything myself.”
No longer able to fly under the radar, Sieracki was still gracious enough to offer advice on which aspect of the game he thinks is most crucial for young learners to find success.
“Here’s something basic: how to control where the club hits the ground, how to control your swing,” he said. “Unlike other sports, here the ball’s stationary. The one main thing would be no movement of your body. Stay locked in, centered with your weight towards your front foot to maintain control of the swing.”
Operation 36 is now taught by nearly 700 coaches across the world, at nearly 500 golf facilities, to over 28,000 golfers. This year, it launched an initiative to create one million new golfers over the next five years.