Published April 2018

Shigeki Maruyama Yuji Naito

At RCC with professional Shigeki Maruyama (left).

Yuji Naito is a pioneer of "tour pro coaches" in the Japanese golf world. He is a specialist who supports professional golfers competing on the tour and leads them to victory, and is also known for contributing to professional golfer Shigeki Maruyama's three wins on the US PGA Tour. Mr. Naito is a leading authority on golf instruction based on scientific theory, and is supported by many fans for his technical explanations in magazines and on TV. At Riviera, the ``Riviera Golf Academy'' based on Mr. Naito's theory started this March.

golf tour pro coach

Yuji Naito


Born on September 1969th in 18 in Suginami Ward, Tokyo. He grew up in a family that ran a golf driving range with a junior golf school attached, and has been familiar with golf since childhood. While he was a member of the Nihon University golf club, he studied golf in the United States and learned the latest golf theory. In 1998, he began his career as a tour professional coach. He was a pioneer in bringing the concept of a tour pro coach to Japan, and is famous for supporting professional golfer Shigeki Maruyama in his three wins on the US PGA Tour. Currently, he is helping many contracted professional golfers win on tour. Utilizing his experience supporting professional golfer Maruyama in the three major tournaments of the Masters, US Open, and US Pro, he has been providing commentary on the PGA TOUR for Golf Network since 3. He also focuses on developing junior golfers. Founder and representative of Learning Golf Club.

RCC is the origin of your career
Memories from when I was 20 years old

-- At the USPGA Tour "Genesis Open" held at The Riviera Country Club (RCC) this February, Mr. Naito served as a commentator on CS Broadcast's golf specialty channel "Golf Network".

Naito: I am in charge of providing tour commentary at RCC. RCC is a memorable course for me, and can be said to be the starting point for my current career. The first time I visited was when I was 20 years old. More than 20 years ago, I went to study abroad in San Diego, USA, aiming to become a professional coach, which was not yet an established profession in Japan.
RCC was said to be a legendary and prestigious course even back then, and was known as the course that attracted the most top-notch players among the many golf courses in California. The PGA Tour tournament is held at RCC in February, and it is a historic tournament, long known as the Los Angeles Open.
Now that you're in America, you can't help but see it. I drove away. There were no car navigation systems, so I sometimes got lost...
Speaking of cars, when Ben Hogan played in a tournament at the RCC, he was broke and couldn't pay the $1 a night parking fee, so he had to park on the street and when he woke up in the morning, there were no tires. He had finally gotten his chance to compete, but just as he was at a loss as to whether he would be able to make it in time for the start, Sam Sneed, who would later compete fiercely with him, passed by and picked him up out of kindness. Thanks to Sneed's manliness, Hogan finished in second place in this match, marking the start of his career. That was the beginning of the inseparable bond between Ben Hogan and RCC. As the RCC has been the scene of many heated battles, there is no shortage of anecdotes about legendary players.
Tiger Woods is also a player with close ties to RCC, and is currently involved in the management of tournaments here, but for some reason he has yet to win.
In a race close to my home, professional golfer Shigeki Maruyama is eager to win the RCC, but he unfortunately remains in 2nd place. The other day, I was looking at the photos of the winners hanging in the clubhouse and was disappointed that my photo wasn't there yet.
RCC, which captures the hearts of these top players, invites me every year. For this tournament, we stayed at a lodge on the grounds, courtesy of Chairman Watanabe. It is not well known to the general public that RCC has comfortable hotel rooms.
In my golf commentary, I will try to convey the appeal of RCC while incorporating these side stories.

Shigeki Maruyama Yuji Naito

Around the time of Maruyama Pro's first victory on the USPGA Tour. It is no exaggeration to say that Mr. Naito's career as a tour professional coach was established through his encounter with this "ally."

Yuji Naito

When I was a university student and started teaching junior classes

Based on Naito theory
“Academy” starts

--This March, the Riviera Golf Academy, based on Naito's theory, started at the Riviera Sports Club in Gaienmae, Tokyo. Personal lessons using the ``Naito Yuji School of Golf'' method can be taken at a gym in the city center, which is very popular.

Naito: Even among the major professional sports where top athletes play an active role, golf has an exceptionally long lifespan. Baseball and soccer players are forced to retire at a young age, but professional golfers do not. This is true even for top professionals, so amateurs should be able to enjoy playing for a long time, regardless of their age or physical strength.
However, in reality, many senior golfers leave the course with a sigh, saying things like, ``I can't even reach the bunkers on my home course that I used to be able to get over now.'' If your physical strength decreases and the ball stops flying, it will quickly become boring. It's a shame.
But is it because his physical strength has declined that he can't fly anymore?
If my physical strength declines, will I no longer be able to enjoy golf?


With members of the NYSG coaching staff. The training skills unique to a ``professional who teaches professionals'' are on full display at Riviera Golf Academy.

What doesn't fly is
It's not because of muscle strength.

Naito: Even if your muscle strength declines with age, if you can swing to efficiently transmit power, your distance will not decrease.
Among female amateur golfers, there are some who display skills that even average male golfers cannot match, but these female golfers usually have very beautiful swings. It's not so much that you can swing beautifully because you're good at it, but rather that because you can swing beautifully, you'll be able to fly farther and score better even if you don't have the physical strength.

widen the margin of growth
scientific approach

Naito: Actually, even in the world of top pros, it is said that hitting distance has increased significantly in recent years. In 2000, John Daly was the only player on the US PGA Tour to average more than 300 yards. That was also 301 yards. In the 2017 season, four players averaged over 317 yards, including Rory McIlroy, who averaged 300 yards. This can be said to be the result of advances in measurement technology such as Trackman data that have made it possible to pursue a more efficient swing.
Improving your swing can more than compensate for the loss of muscle strength. This is especially true for amateurs who have a lot of room for technical improvement. The more clearly the issues that need to be overcome are, the greater the potential for growth.
At Riviera Golf Academy, instructors who have thoroughly studied theory will use a scientific approach to teach you how to use your muscles, correct posture, and how to shape your body with the help of the latest equipment. If you can feel that you are improving through lessons, golf will definitely become more enjoyable.

-- At this academy, NYSG's coaching staff, who are well-versed in the theory of golf lessons, and trainers from Riviera Sports Club, who are experts in body building, work together to guide customers to improve their golf skills. It's similar to how top athletes hire coaches who specialize in each field.

Naito: Yes. I think what is unique about this academy is that you can take a highly advanced approach to both technique and physical strength in the same place and at the same time.

Break through the “wall”
Objective support from experts

Naito: What matters in golf is not the innate physical ability of the person. The most important thing in enjoying golf is technique. Similar to the world of traditional crafts, where mature craftsmen perform their miraculous feats, you can continue to hone your skills regardless of your age or muscle mass.
Also, golf is not a sport where you fight and beat others. The opponent a golfer is competing against is his or her own score. The scores of players you play a round with are independent of your own. Golf is a completely self-contained sport.
However, golf is something that you can't get better at by playing it your own way. You need someone else to check what's wrong with you and how it deviates from the image you're aiming for.
I was born into a family that ran a golf driving range, and even when I was young there was a job as a golf lesson professional. However, the job of lesson professionals these days is to teach beginners. It was common for golfers who had become good enough to stop receiving instruction from professional golfers. However, golfers who have become accustomed to playing and whose growth potential has decreased may need professional support in order to break through the wall.
Amateurs who have risen to the level of singles players through power hitting that rely on muscle strength, but as they age, their scores drop and they lose motivation. People who should know the appeal of golf are turning away from the course. I have never felt so frustrated.
If you understand the theory and hone your skills, golf will become your lifelong friend. I would be happy if I could help you with that. That idea took shape at Riviera Golf Academy.

Yuji Naito

A young man studying. When I was busy practicing for the Nihon University golf club, I heard about the latest scientific teaching theory at the time from an American who visited the golf school run by my father. I realized that I would never be able to become a valid lesson professional. He decided to study abroad in the United States. This was at a time when demand for tour professional coaches had not yet materialized in Japan.

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