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Golf Academies and Schools for 2001: It's your swing -- pick your school or camp
By Kelly Hill

Have you ever stood on the first tee, fearful that the day's first drive will go out about 100 yards and then make a sharp right turn, into whatever hazard happens to grace your favorite course? So you express your concern to one of your playing partners, who responds with a "fool-proof" solution to your slice.

Have you ever received bad advice from a playing partner? Have you ever received advice that is in direct contrast to other tips you've received? Is your golf instruction a compilation of tips from players whose games are no better than yours?

For a function that is supposed to be recreational, at least for most of us, the golf swing is one of life's most closely examined of human movements, second only perhaps to proper punch-card balloting techniques in its scrutiny. The golf swing, however, while singular of purpose, is infinitely varied. Its characteristics are as numerous as its practitioners, so it only follows that its examination, and attempts to improve‚ it, are equally diverse.

Golf instruction, presumably intended to help achieve the swing's singular purpose, becomes successful, therefore, when specifically adapted to the swing's practitioner. Because every swing is different, every golf instruction should be different. Golf instruction needs to determine what is good about a particular swing, as well is what is bad about that particular swing. Then, and only then, can effective instruction be offered.

Michigan and its neighboring states are blessed with instructors and instruction facilities that realize instruction is effective only if it improves the specific swings of specific students. Those in need, or want, of instruction, are thus faced with a multitude of options. That which makes you the most comfortable might be your best option, because your most comfortable swing might indeed prove to be your most productive swing. The following will examine some of those many options:

Academy Golf Schools

Presented at Spruce Ridge in Dowagiac, Academy Golf School's őGolf Retreat‚ allows participants to relax with their game for three or four days. "You can get out of your car when you arrive and never get back in your car until you leave. For those three or four days you can travel by golf car," said Academy director Rick Davenport, who is beginning his 15th season with Academy Golf Schools but who has 25 years of experience in the development and implementation of golf schools. "Nothing but your swing and swing improvements."

Expected to open the final week of April and operate once or twice each month through August, Academy Golf Schools are all-inclusive, for a cost ranging from $395-$595. "This is designed to be the most exclusive school you can find," said Davenport, whose student-to-director ratio never exceeds 4:1. "You can choose traditional schooling, which includes approximately 10 hours of instruction, or you can choose intense school," Davenport noted, "which includes up to 30 hours of instruction."

Academy Golf Schools, which has produced several local, state and national champions, also offers free follow-up classes during the season in which a player attends the academy.

Blackberry Patch

Blackberry Patch, according to owner Bob Magness, has a new practice facility that is fantastic. The tee area is all bent grass and is 180 yards long by 75 yards deep. There are 5 target greens in the landing area and they will be adding two more for this year. They have an enclosed tent on the tee with electricity to do video review and coaching.

Adjacent to the tee is their short game practice area. It consists of a large green, bunker, and a variety of hitting areas to utilize. The bunker can also be used for fairway practice. Measured areas of 20 yds, 30,40,50,60 yards are in place to practice precise distance practice.

They will be offering a variety of coaching programs. with their new assistant, Bryan Smiggen. Blackberry Patch is located in Coldwater.

Blue Mountain-Canada

Cameron Burechails is the Director of Golf for the resort. She has earned a solid reputation as being one of the finest instructors in the Collingwood area. She has worked with players of all ages and skill levels, and believes that everyone can play to their potential if they learn the basic fundamentals and practice regularly.

Georgian Bay Golf Academy has a new home this year at Tees Please Golf Target Range. The Academy will offer private and group lessons, weekly. There will also be instructional clinics and Junior Golf Camps. Short game and on-course instruction will be offered at Monterra Golf at Blue Mountain Resort. For those Michigan golfers that would like to get away to this terrific Canadian Resort, they need to realize that their US dollar will go a long way to making their visit affordable.

Boyne

Flexibility makes Boyne USA's Super Five golf weeks a favorite among many Michigan golfers. For $745 May 7-12 or $845 Aug. 1-6, a Super Five camper receives five nights‚ lodging at Boyne Mountain, five breakfasts and dinners, unlimited golf with cart on the Monument and Alpine course a Boyne Mountain; and on the Moor, Ross and Hills courses at Boyne Highlands; reduced prices at Bay Harbor Golf Club and the Heather; and unlimited instruction with video analysis. What most players find most attractive about this option is that each player can determine when they want instruction, and for how long.

The instruction is scheduled during Boyne's Golf Weeks for Women, although unlimited golf also is available. Similar to the Super Five in its offerings, this school is priced at $745 and scheduled for May 21-26 and July 4-9.

Boyne also offers a six-day Junior Golf Academy priced at $650. Nine different sessions are available and include lessons, accommodations and meals at Boyne Mountain.

Crystal Mountain

The Ultimate Golf School, the creation of 1998 Teacher of the Year Brad Dean, in conjunction with fellow former Michigan Section PGA Teachers of the Year Ron English and David Kendall, is a three-day program intended to improve not only one's swing, but also one's scoring.

Midweek and weekend schools are available, as well as women's only sessions. This year, however, Crystal Mountain Resort also is introducing the Club Car Junior Golf Camp, a four-day session that Dean said, "should be real popular." Crystal Mountain also has hired two new instructors, PGA pros Tom Patterson and Mickey Lewis.

"We have something going on every day of the summer," Dean said. The midweek and weekend camps will be held every week beginning in early May. The women's camps are scheduled each week from Sunday through Tuesday and the three dates have been set for the Club Car Junior Golf Camp, two in July and one in August.

Garland

Convened at the Midwest's only AAA Four-Diamond golf facility, the Garland Golf Academy features PGA professional instructors and a student-to-teacher ratio that never exceeds 5:1. Reduced-rate midweek sessions are available Sundays through Thursdays.

John Gregus Golf Academy

A PGA professional, Gregus presents a series of gold academies for beginners, intermediate players and low-handicap players, as well as VIPs, at the Captain's Club at Woodfield in Grand Blanc. Now in its fourth year, the academy is not held on specific dates. "Players come in whenever they can and we tailor the program to the particular player," said Gregus, who uses the ASTAR video-analysis system. Gregus‚ VIP instruction features eight hours of dedicated instruction for $495.

The Hawk at Partridge Creek

The four-year-old junior instruction program established by club pro Chas Sarlund meets once each week for 10 weeks during the three summer months. Each session includes 45 minutes of instruction followed by a round of supervised golf. Lessons focus on most aspects of the game including etiquette and the rules of play. New this year, according to Sarlund, is the establishment of club teams who will battle in an inter-club tournament at the end of the season.

Indiana Golf Academy

This academy, located in Monticello, IN, is a labor of love for Steve Bonnell as he and his brother and sisters, Jeff, Vickie and Ann have worked hard to put this program together. The Bonnell golf empire also include their original course, Pond View, in Star City, Pine View, which is home to the academy, and new Mystic Hills in Culver.

The academy features three-day weekend or midweek sessions beginning in mid-April and running through early October and in addition to daily instruction, golf is available on any of the three courses.

Innerform Golf School

Designed, developed and implemented by PGA/LPGA pro Patti Butcher, all Innerform programs feature a student-to-teacher ratio no greater than 6:1, video feedback technology is always available and juniors are grouped according to interest and ability, not by age.

"Golf is 100 percent physical and 100 percent mental - it is impossible to separate them," says Innerform's promotional material. "Each student will be taught what they have to change, why they have to change it and how to practice to make the change permanent."

Residing at the year-round, all-weather HillTop Center in Saugatuck, which is a state-of-the-art golf practice facility, Innerform features individual golf instruction, a Junior FUNdamental Series, Prep School Junior Academy, Junior Player Academy, Weekend Warrior Golf School, Practice and Play Program, the Short-game Seminar and Women's Player Academy.

"HillTop Center provides people of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to learn, practice and improve on and enjoy the game of golf in a beautiful park setting. We understand the physical, technical and mental elements of the game."

Butcher and Innerform also recently announced that it plans to offer learning programs this summer in cooperation with Garland Resort in Lewiston, Thousand Oaks Golf Club in Grand Rapids and The Pines Golf Course in Wyoming.

David Leadbetter

Golf Academy

The Meadows Golf Club on the Allendale campus of grand Valley State University is home to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. Leadbetter senior instructor Scott Holden plans a series of 40 clinics in May, June, July and August. Holden plans to spend one week each month in Michigan, offering 10 clinics each week. Morning clinics are slated for 9 a.m. to Noon Monday through Friday while afternoon sessions are scheduled for 2-5 p.m. The cost of the Leadbetter program is $275 per session, which is limited to only three players. Players aged 16 and under pay $200 per session.

"This program is really, really good," said The Meadows‚ Terry Sack. "I can see why Leadbetter is one of the best instructors around. We are looking forward to having that program back again." In addition to the Leadbetter program, The Meadows also has scheduled a full array of clinics and mini-camps.

Mulligan's Golf Academy

Evan "Big Cat" Williams joined the teaching staff at Mulligan's Golf Center in Auburn Hills in November, so a "distance academy" is expected to be added to the practice facility's long list of instructional offerings. PGA member Marc White, who plays left-handed, offers an instructional series for lefties at Mulligan's.

While sessions are assigned particular dates during the spring season, Mulligan's summer programs are more varied and more flexible. "We have full-swing and short-game schools ranging from three hours to two days," White said.

Nike Golf Schools

Katke Golf Course on the Big Rapids campus of Ferris State University is now host to the US Sports/Nike Golf Schools. These courses of instruction, combined with accommodations at the Big Rapids Holiday Inn or university residence halls, include Nike junior camps, a Nike adult school and advanced/tournament player camps. The Adult camp is scheduled for May 12-14, the junior camps are June 17-22 and July 8-13 and 22-27 and the advanced/tournament player camps are June 24-29, July 15-20 and July 29-Aug. 3.

"We cover all the basics of golf," said camp director Mike Hodgins, who is a graduate of the FSU's Professional Golf Management Program. "We cover etiquette of the game, the rules of the game and, for the more advanced players, the mental aspects of the game, such as course management and strategy. There also is a session on college golf, for players who want to get ready to play golf in college."

While the instruction is varied and intense, the program also remembers that golf is a game. "We try to teach golf as a game of fun," Hodgins said. "It is something everyone can enjoy for a lifetime." The program's V1 video-training system also provides each student with a 15-minute video outlining those things that need particular attention.

Fees for the programs begin at $395 for commuters and $495 for the resident plan.

Jim Norgart Golf Academy

Staged at three sites, Pine Trace Golf Club, Shepherd's Hollow and Cherry Creek, the Jim Norgart Golf Academy expects to open in mid-March or early April. Weekend junior and adult development camps have been scheduled for 4-7:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Tuition for these four-day sessions begins at $895 per player and is expected to include 14 hours of instruction, an instructional manual and video analysis. "We will teach the proper fundamentals to beginners or low-handicap players," Norgart said. "Our central focus is to build skills for players to become their own teacher."

Five adult development sessions are scheduled throughout the summer season and a couples‚ program also has been planned. The junior development program, for players in grades 6-12, is scheduled to begin after school is dismissed in June.

Red Fox Run Golf Academy

Upper Peninsula players can improve their game at the Red Fox Run Golf Academy in Gwinn. This three-day school, priced at $225 per person is taught by PGA Master Professional Frank Guastella and PGA Apprentice Dennis Kaugela. This camp features daily instruction, 27 holes of golf with cart, daily continental breakfast, daily lunch and refreshments and a $40 gift package.

This year's dates for the Red Fox Run Golf Academy are June 22-24, July 18-20, Aug. 1-3 and Aug. 22-24.

Treetops

Located in the heart of Gaylord's Golf Mecca, Treetops offers 81 holes of golf as well as the Rick Smith Golf Academy and now the Ladies Golf School. Open to players of all abilities and experience, this school features a student-to-teacher ratio of 6:1. The clinic-style instruction focuses on the short game and the full swing while also improving each player's individual knowledge of the game.

The Ladies Golf School at Treetops, which runs from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday, will be offered nine time this summer, from mid-May through mid-August. Two alumni schools also are planned. The $489 package price includes three nights accommodations, daily golf instruction, three days of unlimited golf with cart, three breakfasts, two lunches, a dinner and a welcome cocktail reception.

Trevor Parkinson Golf School

Located indoors in Rochester Hills and outdoors at Twin Lakes Golf Club in Oakland, the Trevor Parkinson Golf School is equipped with seven hitting areas, each of which features a visual communications system known as ASTAR (All Sport Training Research), which offers immediate feedback. This system, when combined with specialized PGA teaching professionals, offers a better understanding of the intricacies of the golf swing.

This year-round facility has three- and six-month memberships available. A native of Liverpool, England, Trevor Parkinson turned pro in 1967 and earned his European Tour card in 1977.

Tri-State University Golf Academy

Founder and director Bill SanGiacomo will present his 30th year of academy instruction this summer with a variety of weekend schools, three- and five-day adult sessions, parent and child mini-camps and three-day boys individual and team camps.

SanGiacomo maintains a student-to-teacher ratio of 3:1 as he is assisted by several PGA pros, university golf instructors and golf coaches. All sessions include coverage of the full swing, short game, on-course lessons, individual lessons on the practice range and course management strategy discussions.

Special attention to the needs of individual players has been the focus of the TSU Academy for almost 30 years. Sessions, with tuition starting at $350, are held in June and early July at the school's Zollner Golf Course. Adults stay in nearby motels and enjoy meals at the Zollner Clubhouse and an exclusive dining room at Caruso's Restaurant.

United States Golf Academy

Presented at the Swan Lake Resort in northern Indiana, the U.S. Golf Academy offers two- and three-day sessions designed to help you work on your entire game, from a solid pre-shot routine to proper follow through techniques. The programs, which begin in mid-April and run regularly through late September, are offered at t a cost of $495 for the two-day program and $695 for the three-day instruction. Academy instruction includes lodging, lessons, meals, carts, unlimited green fees and driving range privileges.

Instruction includes but is not limited to proper grip, stance, posture, ball positioning, video analysis and course management.


Camp Contacts

Academy Golf Schools 1-800-677-2527 N/A
Blue Mountain 705-445-0231 http://bluemountain.ca
Boyne 1-800-GO-BOYNE http://www.boyne.com
Crystal Mountain 1-231-378-2000 http://www.crystalmtn.com
John Gregus Golf Academy 1-810-695-4653 N/A
The Hawk at Partridge Creek 1-810-228-3030 N/A
Indiana Golf Academy 1-800-972-9636 http://www.indianagolfacademy.com
Innerform Golf School 1-888-273-0777 http://www.innerformgolf.com
Garland 1-877-4GARLAND http://www.garlandusa.com
David Leadbetter Academy 1-616-895-1004 http://www.webgolfer.com/meadows
Mulligan's Golf Academy 1-248-332-4653 http://www.mulligansgolfcenter.com
Nike Golf School at FSU 1-231-591-3765 http://www.katkegolf.com
Jim Norgart Golf Academy 1-248-343-3675 N/A
Red Fox Run Academy 1-906-346-7010 http://www.redfoxrun.com
Jack Seltzer Golf Academy 1-810-742-4900 http://www.jackselter.com
Treetops 1-888-TREETOPS http://www.treetops.com
Trevor Parkinson Golf School 1-248-608-9634 http://www.trevorparkinson.com
Tri-State University Academy 1-219-665-4203 http://www.tristate.edu
U.S. Golf Academy 1-800-582-7539 http://www.usgolfacademy.com


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