Amateur golfer Andrew McDonald lives a seriously busy lifestyle. Between working in technical operations for Apple, planning his upcoming wedding, and recently moving to Texas, it’s hard to think he’s got time for anything else. But thanks to remote lessons on Skillest, he still finds time to significantly improve his golf game with help from his coach Alex Riggs. Despite Andrew being in Texas and Alex in Dubai, the pair have been working together for nearly two years completely remotely.
Andrew’s been passionate about the game for quite some time. His first taste of golf came when he moved from Atlanta to Orlando at the age of 12. There in central Florida he had the opportunity to help at Bay Hill, Arnold Palmer’s course. He grew up playing with Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders.
“He took my five bucks every time we played nine holes,” says Andrew. “But it always motivated me to improve.”
As time went on, Andrew played in more tournaments and had aspirations of playing college golf. Although he had opportunities to play at several Division II or III schools, he ultimately decided to pursue his engineering degree as opposed to playing golf at a smaller school.
“I got a piece of advice from my dad,” says McDonald. “He said ‘listen, golf doesn’t go anywhere. Go get a good degree and work your butt off. And golf might be there after.'”
After getting his degree, Andrew got a job and returned to playing competitive golf. It was then he starting competing in numerous amateur tournaments. Although he was around a scratch golfer, Andrew was still looking to improve specific areas of his game.
“My short game was always pretty good,” he says. “But there was always a few big misses out there, with my driver specifically.”
Seeking tips and advice for his game, Andrew came across Alex Riggs on Instagram and saw the coach was on Skillest.
“I bought the individual one-time lesson, not really knowing what to expect,” says Andrew. “And after the first analysis, it was the first golf instruction that I had ever received that actually made sense to me.”
“It was really exciting to see Andrew come through because he was playing off a very good level, but there were noticeable things in his movement that could have been cleaned up,” says Alex. “From a coach’s perspective, it’s super exciting because as soon as we tidy up these movements, he’s got an opportunity to shine.”
Andrew went on to purchase a subscription and has been working with Alex for almost two years.
“I’m getting results quicker because my coach and I don’t feel the need to jam everything into a 30-minute session where we’re both free on the range,” says Andrew. “We both get to work on things when is right for us. And if it takes me a few weeks to work on something, that’s no problem. That’s why the subscription exists and Alex will be there when ready.”
Although he’d love to be on the range with Alex whenever he wanted to, Andrew feels like he doesn’t miss a thing thanks to the virtual communication on Skillest. He credits the level of detail and constant communication with his coach for improving his game.
Even after a short period of time, Andrew’s improvements were getting noticed by his friends.
“After a few weeks of working with Alex on Skillest, they saw my swing and were like, ‘Wait, what happened? Your swing looks incredible.'” It didn’t take much convincing to get a handful of his friends onto Skillest.
Despite being in his 30s with a busy schedule, Andrew has aspirations to qualify for either the US Mid Amateur or the US Amateur Championships.
“Skillest has allowed me in a crazy pandemic with an extremely busy job to fit in practice within my schedule,” says Andrew. “I don’t think I would have been able to do in-person lessons. And even if I watched all the best videos in the world, I couldn’t have instructed myself to this level. You need somebody who’s a top-notch teacher who can guide you through the process. It’s been a game changer that’s totally changed my relationship with the game.”
After a year of working together completely remotely (with Andrew in San Francisco and Alex in Dubai), the two finally met in person to play a round at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, CA.