If it weren’t for Shelby Futch’s father having a propensity for poker, he wouldn’t have discovered the game of golf. His numerous contributions to the game would have been sorely missed.
Shelby has earned a stellar international reputation with a resume that spans every facet of golf. Initially a tour player, Shelby’s imprint on the game also include innovations in teaching and securing a business model for successful course operation.
Under the Scottsdale Golf Group, he owns and operates 11 golf courses in Texas, Arizona and Nevada. To think it all began when his dad won a set of clubs when he was a boy growing up in West Texas.
“My dad didn’t play,” Shelby laughs when revisiting the story. “One night he brought home a set of clubs he had won. But the golf bag had no ball inside so I learned with a tennis ball. When I first joined the golf team, I saw how small a golf ball was for the first time.”
He learned to hit it well and then he learned to teach and to sell the game. After a successful career in tournaments, he went on to instruct others to do the same. His first formal foray into education began with the formation of the John Jacobs’ Golf Schools in 1971. Starting in his garage like many successful businessmen, he taught himself to sell. “I had a card table and an old rotary phone,” Shelby recalls. He started booking people into his growing number of golf schools around the country, booking flights, hotels and car rentals all at the same time. Today there are more than two dozen school locations and an online booking site to complement his call center for golf vacation seekers. After he built a brand for schools, he began offering help on the business side. Under the guidance of Futch, Scottsdale Golf Group has grown from the undisputed leader in golf instruction to also become a master of club operations, management services and consumer marketing services. His brand is now helping other brands become successful. Prior to establishing the Scottsdale Golf Group, Shelby played on numerous tours including the Far Eastern and South American and in several United States tour events. He also won the Illinois PGA Championship in the 1970s. The result of his accomplishments came with induction into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in 2013. “That was a tremendous honor for me,” Shelby says. Shelby has authored numerous instruction articles that have been printed in nationally recognized publications such as GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest. He was named one of “America’s 50 Best Golf Teachers” by GOLF Magazine, ranked by Golf Digest as one of the best teachers in the country, and was featured in the book Golf Gurus. He also has made appearances on The Golf Channel’s instructional program, Golf Academy Live. He is a frequent guest speaker for the Hong Kong and China PGA and has been involved in the development of instructional programs for mainland China.
He has owned and operated several golf course properties across the country, as well as a chain of golf retail stores to accompany a successful golf club fitting and manufacturing company.
Shelby currently lives in Mesa, Arizona, and still teaches, even when not getting paid. He is donating his skills to the NJCAA National Champion Scottsdale Community College Golf Team, having agreed to coach the team pro bono.
Teaching young players is quite gratifying for me,” Shelby says.
While serving as an instructor for the Golf Digest Schools, he founded the world-famous John Jacobs’ Golf Schools. Established in 1971 with John Jacobs, John Jacobs’ Golf Schools & Academies are some of the most recognized in the world. His partner, John Jacobs, was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame and he (his nickname was Doctor Golf) was a 2001 inductee into the GOLF Magazine World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame.
The success of the John Jacobs’ Golf Schools, his courses and his business revolve around Shelby’s commitment to excellence and his love for the game.
Here are a few other accomplishments: