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1979 scuba training

Teaching the Teachers – It’s Hammer Time!

(DiverWire) – He’s one of the gentle giants of the scuba industry. Since 1974, Patrick Hammer has played an active role in growing and shaping future generations of recreational scuba divers AND dive leaders.

1979 scuba training
Patrick Hammer (L) circa 1979

As the longest tenured active PADI Course Director, Hammer estimates that he has certified more than 3800 divers personally and his store has added over 15,000 in various locations around the world. He and his wife Sherry, built Scuba Emporium into one of the most well-known professional level training facilities in the country. In addition to dominating the Midwestern United States, the Hammers have also spread their training influence to Florida, Georgia and Arizona, in addition to the Caribbean.

While introducing people to the wonders of the underwater world was certainly satisfying, Hammer longed to do a little more. When the opportunity came for him to advance his training and become an Instructor Trainer, he jumped at the chance. “There’s something about teaching instructors that’s very appealing,” he points out. “It’s a positive life-changing experience (being an instructor) and it’s something that I enjoy sharing with the next generation of dive leaders.”

Hammer has trained more than 700 dive professionals during his career. Throughout his 30-plus years in the industry, he’s seen a variety of different types of candidates in all shapes and sizes. But one thing is consistent about all the candidates – they are all looking to change their life, he points out.

“Who wouldn’t want to get paid for what you enjoy,” Hammer says with emphasis. “We met a couple in Arizona one year who were in one of my Instructor development programs. They came to Illinois for the Resort Training course and now they are working together in Hawaii.”

Bahamas IDC program
Patrick Hammer in the Bahamas

One of his most rewarding training programs actually happened earlier this year in the Bahamas. Through the non-profit Ralph Erickson Educational Foundation, Hammer helped take a group of locals through an IDC program to become instructors.

“The program gave these quality young people a way to improve their lives,” Hammer explained following the program. “Many of them can now get immediate raises, look at new opportunities and have the skills and training that will last a lifetime. It was a pleasure to be involved in such a worthwhile endeavor.”

For six straight years, Hammer has been recognized as a “Platinum” PADI Course Director, the highest rating PADI currently offers. There are only 60 Platinum level CDs in the entire world. “It’s humbling to know that my efforts are being noticed,” Hammer says.

It’s not the first time PADI has honored Hammer. Several years ago during the annual DEMA Trade Show, the training organization conducted a video contest and taped PADI members talking about “why” they are involved in the industry. Hammer talked about his love of teaching and how it’s changed his life. He won the contest, along with a check for $5,000.

Earlier this year, Patrick and Sherry received the “President’s Award” from Divers Alert Network for their historical support of DAN. According to DAN President Dan Orr, “Patrick held what we believe is the first-ever diving fund-raising event for DAN back in the early 1980s. He’s been a supporter of DAN and the dive industry.”

Dan Orr from DAN
Sherry Hammer, Dan Orr and Pat Hammer at OWU 2011

Orr presented the award, given to individuals who have long histories of supporting the DAN effort, at the 2011 Our World -Underwater Show in Chicago. It’s appropriate that the Hammers should receive the award at the Our World -Underwater event. After all, they own and operate this historic consumer scuba diving event. The couple took over the Show in 1998 and have managed its continued growth ever since.

“The Show is important to keep people active and motivated about SCUBA, especially in the cold winter months,” Sherry points out. “Each year we see more and more people coming to the Show which means that diving is alive and well in Chicago.”

Of course diving is another way to stay motivated. Both Patrick and Sherry do their share of dive travel during the year. “It’s one of the perks of the job,” Patrick points out. “We get paid to travel and we get paid to dive.” Recently, the Hammers were in Fiji where they experienced what Patrick described as “the best shark experience ever.” He talked enthusiastically about being surrounded by a dozen bull sharks in the clear open water. “It’s an experienced I’ve never had before but certainly one I won’t forget.”

After more than 35 years in the dive industry, many wouldn’t blame Hammer for wanting to slow down and take it easy. But that’s a foreign concept to this trail blazer who continues to teach IDC courses throughout the United States and abroad. He’s planning on a pair of programs in Phoenix, Arizona later this month before traveling to Jamaica, St. Lucia and Turks and Caicos to conduct programs with the Sandals Resort chain.

Patrick HammerIn addition, this summer, Hammer is expanding his international IDC offerings to include Grand Cayman. The program at Sunset House, along with all of the other international programs are open to any qualified diver looking to improve and “Go Pro” with one of the leading scuba training professionals in the world.

For more details about Scuba Emporium go to the website at

For more details about Platinum-level IDC training through Patrick Hammer go to GO PRO on the Scuba Emporium website or contact Hammer via email at

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