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9th Annual West Michigan Golf Show

Having worked with over 200 Tour players between them, teaching gurus Dean Reinmuth and Dr. Deborah Graham should have little problem keeping the attention of winter-weary golfers at the 9th Annual West Michigan Golf Show. Set for Feb.28-March 2 at the Ford Fieldhouse in Grand Rapids, the Golf Show is a major winter sports happening for West Michigan. Along with over 100 exhibitors, free golf lessons from area pros and fabulous door prizes such as a Grand Prize to Ireland (donated by Destination Ireland Golf & Aer Lingus), the WMGS is nationally recognized for the quality of its instructional headliners. Certainly, Reinmuth and Graham are no exception.

Appearing courtesy of Yonex Golf, Reinmuth is best known as Phil Mickelson's teacher, having worked with the southpaw phenom in San Diego since Phil was 14 years of age. About his teacher, Mickelson has said: "Dean Reinmuth is a great teacher. His instructional approach helped me achieve my goals, and I know he can help you achieve yours." Reinmuth's approach is based upon his "Swing Shaping System." This system focuses on making slight or minor changes in the golfer's natural swing, as opposed to completely re-building it. As such, this "reshaping" credo affords golfers to hit their best shots more frequently while enhancing the quality of the inevitable "mis-hits."

Hailing from Naperville, Il, Reinmuth grew up with golf, having spent time first as a caddie at the local country club and later working his way up with stops in the grounds crew, bag room and finally the pro shop. After a successful college golf stint, Reinmuth turned professional and toured the globe for eight years on the competitive circuit. But all during this time, he knew one of his true gifts was motivating and teaching others. In 1981, Reinmuth opened the Dean Reinmuth School of Golf (619-484-7729) at Carlton Oaks CC in San Diego. He credits Bob Toski and his teaching theories as being influential in his own instructional philosophy. Other mentors and collaborators over the years have included the late Davis Love Jr., Jim Flick and Paul Runyan. Steadily building his reputation beyond the West Coast, Reinmuth has been cited by Golf Magazine as one of "Top 50 Teachers in America." In the last two years, he has released a best-selling golf video, 'Take A Swing at Tension,' and a equally successful book called "Tension Free Golf." published by Triumph Books.

Besides Mickelson, Reinmuth's pupils include Dave Stockton, Dave Stockton Jr., Scott Verplank, and several players on the international tours.

Speaking of Dave Stockton, Dr. Deborah Graham also works with the current U.S. Senior Open and First of America champion. Only her teaching with Stockton is from the neck up, in the rarefied air of sports psychology. Graham began working with Stockton in 1991 at the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick. At the time, Stockton was preparing to join the Senior Tour. "I began working with Dr. Graham...on the traits that are important to play champioship golf," said Stockton in a cover story in Senior Golfer. "With her help, I applied that information to my own personality and game, and I worked very hard to improve my mental deficiencies."

Locally sponsored by Ladies of the Club, Dr. Graham is also making her first appearance at the Show. She's also the first golf psychologist to be a headliner. Growing up an athlete in her native Texas, Graham's harbored a desire to pursue a sports-related field. It came by way of her adopted profession of psychology and counseling in which she earned a Ph.D. The roots of her SportPysch Inc. (the name of her San Antonio-based firm, at 800-322-5044) endeavors began with her dissertation which studied the personalities of LPGA champion golfers. That study as well as one completed in 1989 with Jon Stabler, Graham's husband, on PGA and Senior Tour players concluded that champions' personalities were different. Up to this time, there was little data available on the personality traits of professional golfers. By the time her second study was finished, Graham found herself as a full-time golf psychologist.

"Through my years of working with various individual sports, golf stands out as one of the most demanding mentally," says Graham who also counts such names as Al Geiberger, Lee Janzen, Michelle McCann, Brandie Burton and Mark McCumber as her best known clients. "There are many reasons for this, one of which involves the regulation of thoughts and focus for four plus consecutive hours."

Graham feels that golf's imperfectability poses the greatest mental challenge for players. This unique aspect of the game may leave players in a mentally vulnerable state_"particularly if they tend to be a perfectionist, have a fragile self-esteem, or if accustomed to being in control." As someone who has helped guide Mark Calcavecchia's game back from the abyss of his painful '91 Ryder Cup performance (remember his singles match collapse against Colin Montgomerie), Graham is expert on the psychological demands between the ropes. "Unless a golfer develops a strong mental game, golf can be a torturous experience."

Prior to her concentration in golf psychology, Graham had established a respected reputation in sports psychology. Her resume includes work with the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team in Seoul in '88 as well as work for Singapore in its preparation for the Southeast Asian Games. In '91, she began publishing Golfpsych Update, a newsletter providing sport psychology lessons for PGA Tour players. Her articles have appeared in Senior Golfer and PGA Magazine.

The West Michigan Golf Show is presented by the West Michigan GMC Truck Dealers and sponsored by Michigan Golfer, Century Cellunet, Orson E. Coe Pontiac/GMC Truck and WZZM TV-13. Show hours at the Ford Fieldhouse are 5pm-9pm on Friday; 10am-5pm on Saturday; and 11am-4pm on Sunday. The grand door prize open to all patrons is a golf trip for two to Ireland in '97 courtesy of Destination Ireland (800-832-1848) which specializes in golf trips to Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal and the '97 Ryder Cup.

For more information on the WMGS, call 616-247-1931.

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