JJ Putting – James’ evolving success story

JJ Putting – James’ evolving success story

11/02/2022

2022 got off to the best possible start for James Jankowski when for the first time he was named in Golf Monthly’s top-50 golf coaches in the UK.

Not bad going when you consider that it was only six years ago that he struck out with an idea to build his core teaching business around putting only. At that point Jankowski, a relatively recently qualified PGA professional,  was approaching his 30th birthday and coaching a few golf-game lessons at Radlett Golf Centre, as well as working in the shop a couple of days each week.

It was a period in his life when he was, in his words, “kind of thinking about the next steps”. But, as so often is the case with a good idea, the light bulb moment came without any great effort or sweat and toil.

Instead, after a match alongside his good friend and fellow PGA pro Glen Portelli in the Sunningdale Foursomes, Jankowski ended up having a look at his playing partner’s putting stroke. “I helped Glen and he saw a big improvement, so he recommended one of his friends and it went from there…I started coaching a few people,” he says. ‘Then I thought maybe I’ll take this a bit more seriously.” And so the brand JJ Putting was born.

It was around that stage Jankowski combined entrepreneurial spirit with his scientific mind (he was an A-Level maths and physics student). “I bought an indoor Huxley mat for the studio at Radlett and I got a business loan and bought Quintic Ball Roll (the putting analysis software system),” he says. “I read around the subject and learnt as much as I could.”

Jankowski advertised his new service to those who had previously used him for full-swing tuition. He also took his business on the road, teaming up with fellow PGA professionals in the East region and beyond. “I purposely got the travel version of the Quintic Ball Roll – the Huxley was also transportable, so I’d take it all in the car. I said to other pros that I knew, ‘I’ve got this software system, I specialise in putting; maybe we can work together with some of your clients and split the revenue.’ Half a dozen PGA pros thought that sounded great. I would create the promotional flyer to save clubs the hassle and they would send it out and those who were interested could go to my website where I had online booking.”

Around the same stage in 2017, Jankowski had linked up with his old ally Portelli, who had just taken a professional’s role at Old Fold Manor Golf Club on the northern outskirts of London. “Glen said, ‘Why don’t you rent the studio from me when you want to do your putting lessons and put your Huxley in there?’ That worked well but in 2019 the old trolley store at the back of the pro shop became available. Glen suggested it could be my putting studio and the room was refurbished in spring, 2019 and in May a green was put in – a fixed platform green that you can change the slope on a single plane. I saw it as a good investment to make because I was getting very busy.”

By that point Jankowski’s reputation was also growing overseas. He’d taken his expertise to a whole string of clubs in America – Arizona, California, Washington State – and developed a relationship with Capto, another company specialising in putting analysis software (“It tells you what the putter did throughout the whole stroke, whereas Quintic Ball Roll tells you impact data and ball data,” explains James). In 2021, the 36-year-old also coached new clients on two trips to Dubai.

But the sheer demand for his services in the UK means that his trips abroad will not feature quite so much in the future. He has a minimum of four days dedicated to coaching each week at Old Fold Manor, plus there are other elements of his business that he needs to tend to. For example, he has long been an advocate of social media marketing, focusing on Instagram as his favoured platform. This year he wants to invest more time in his YouTube channel, plus he is launching a JJ Putting app in the spring.  He is also developing a new putting training aid brand with a partner already well established in the golf industry.

Elite golfers and everyday golf players – JJ Putting welcomes them all at his state of the art studio with its tilting green. So why does he feel his business has grown into such a success story? “Word of mouth would’ve got me to here over anything else,” he says. "Do a good job with someone, that’s a better promotional tool than anything else.”

And as for his offering, Jankowski – always a naturally good putter himself – has total conviction in why players should seek out help on the greens when evaluating the various available game improvement routes. “From a perspective of score if you hole one more putt a round that’s one shot less on your score; 2 more putts, two shots. If you hit the ball a bit better – maybe you hit it 10 yards further off the tee – how does that equate to your score? Not too sure. But putting has a direct correlation to your score. Less putts, less shots.”

And who can argue against that..?

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