Dave Souza is the co-owner and manager of GOLFTEC in West Hartford and his wife and parents are also co-owners and active on several levels in the business.
By Stacey Dressner
You can practice your golf swing endlessly on the local driving range in hopes of improving your golf game.
Or you can go to GOLFTEC, a golf training center in West Hartford, which offers a technology-based system that analyzes and evaluates your golf swing and then recruits you with lessons and your own golf pro or “coach” to guide you exactly how to play your game improve.
“Our goal is to help people play better golf,” said Dave Souza, co-owner and manager of West Hartford GOLFTEC and one of the centre’s certified personal golf trainers.
GOLFTEC is a family affair for Souza.
Born in West Hartford and his wife Shannon, he and his parents and co-owners Bill and Michelle Souza, who also live in West Hartford, opened the state-of-the-art GOLFTEC Center on New Britain Avenue in March 2017. The family now franchises GOLFTEC in Hartford County and plans to open additional training centers in the future.
Since opening, GOLFTEC in West Hartford has given 33,000 lessons to more than 3,200 customers. Sales have grown to $ 3.5 million.
“The response has been great,” said Dave, noting that word of mouth from happy customers was attracting more customers.
“It just seems to snow in a really positive way,” he said.
GOLFTEC is the perfect deal for the Souzas, two of whom are long-time golfers and passionate fans of the sport … and two of them are just about to follow in their footsteps.
“My dad and I are the main golfers,” said Dave. “My wife is starting to study, and my mother is there too. They are GOLFTEC students. “
“I’m studying now because I have a really good coach – my son David,” said Michelle with a laugh. “It gives me a social, physical outlet that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And you don’t need a team. You can play by yourself; You can play with a group; You can play as a couple. It’s also a lot of fun. “
Love at first swing
Dave says he fell in love with golf as a kid after participating in the Canon Greater Hartford Open – now the Traveler’s Championship – with his father.
“I was 10 or 11 years old and I just fell in love with the athleticism and finesse of the sport. I’ve been passionate about golf ever since, ”he said.
Young Dave immediately asked his father for a set of golf clubs – and the rest, they say, is history. He and his father have been playing together at Rockledge Golf Club since then.
Dave called his father “a great athlete” and said the elder Souza had played baseball for Amherst College, among other things, until he decided to change courses and try his hand at the college golf team. He quickly fell in love with the sport.
“I love the humility of the game, the camaraderie, the physical part and the personal challenge,” said Bill. “You can play it until you are old and because of the handicap system, anyone can play. It’s a game that everyone can come together to play. “
A graduate of Hall High School in 2005, Dave brought his passion for the sport to Florida State University, where he studied professional golf management. After graduation, he set out to find a job in the New England golf world to be close to Shannon, whom he was then engaged to and who worked in Boston. In 2010 he found what he was looking for at the Burlington GOLFTEC Center. He later worked for Boston GOLFTEC for seven years.
But Dave’s heart was always at home in West Hartford.
“Growing up, I always wanted to try to come back and start some kind of golf center in West Hartford,” he said. “After working at GOLFTEC in Boston, I knew that West Hartford would do very well if we could open a franchise.”
GOLFTEC is headquartered in Denver and has grown from a small center in 1995 to 200 locations worldwide today.
Dave suggested the idea of starting a GOLFTEC franchise to his parents and they loved the idea. And so Dave and Shannon as well as Bill and Michelle opened their first GOLFTEC Center on New Britain Avenue in West Hartford in March 2017.
“When the opportunity arose we said, ‘We know West Hartford well, we know there are lots of golfers here and lots of golf courses nearby. And there is a lot of interest in good physical activity and sport, ”says Michelle. So we just said, ‘Okay, let’s explore.’ And that’s what we did. To be able to have a family business where you’ve helped make one of your children’s career dreams come true is pretty nice. “
Today Dave serves as the manager and trainer of West Hartford GOLFTEC; Michelle, the former Marketing and Development Director for Jewish Family Services in West Hartford, takes care of the center’s marketing and does part of GOLFTEC’s corporate marketing; and Bill, a technology manager now retired from Cigna and ESPN, runs the company’s finance and back office sides.
“We attract people from all over the place – people from the Connecticut, Massachusetts coast, the Berkshires. Our customers are half local and half long-distance. It’s an attraction, ”said Bill.
Covid has put plans for more franchises in the greater Hartford area on hold for a while, but as things normalize, the Souzas are hoping to open another GOLFTEC center or two in the next few years.
“We hope to open more centers because we’re helping people play better golf,” said Dave. “The more we can go out there and help, the more people will come to the game and that’s our goal.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of West Hartford Magazine. To read the entire magazine, click here.
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