Sports: Golf Camps
From the Print Edition:
Groucho Marx, Spring 93
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As Marks Jr. says of the Royal Golf Academy's game plan, "We do everything very gradually to instill confidence. During the first two days I'm just intent on the shape of the swing, some iron play, a golfer's meeting basic challenges. I know most golf factories stress the splashy: students muscling balls at the range with their drivers. But this doesn't straighten out old, bad habits. It's as the great Tommy Bolt once said, 'Drivers are for professional use only."'
Rules, though, are meant to be broken. At least according to Marks's own version of "dessert."
Following long hours of instruction, Marks accompanies students to one of Port Royal's three championship courses, located on the remnants of a Civil War stronghold. Meandering along weeping willow-lined fairways--the first special treat--he expounds upon the game's secrets and occasionally, he'll even bend that Bolt axiom and allow students to rip a driver for distance.
But most importantly, he discusses course management skills--shot selection, when to take and avoid risks, etiquette--and this too distinguishes Royal Golf from the pack. Most schools don't take students onto a course, only sending them home with a bag tag and a pat on the back.
"We're old-fashioned here. We don't promote ourselves as miracle workers, but we do make every effort to give students all the essentials," says Marks, who conducts numerous outings for MCI execs and clients annually. "My big thing is the swing, helping people get the ball into the air. This generates confidence and the discovery that golf isn't torture, that it can be a lot of fun."
A three-day visit to the Academy costs $850. For reservations call (803) 689-1300 or (800) 277-5588. Walking distance from the school, there is a five Diamond Westin Resort, a sprawling beach-front retreat featuring tennis, health club and conference facilities with some of Hilton Head's tastiest seafood.
Of course, there are other golf academies around the country. Many are just as effective in creating a positive golf experience. CIGAR AFICIONADO conducted a survey of the various possibilities, and has come up with five other suggestions for instructional camps that offer a variety of techniques and emphasis for the struggling golfer.
GRAND CYPRESS ACADEMY OF GOLF
GRAND CYPRESS RESORT
In the spirit of nearby Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, this is the home of "Stickman," golf's technological marvel. The brainchild of Dr. Ralph Mann, the Stickman is billed as the perfect swing model. It's actually a recorded composite image of over 50 top Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour players, and for instructional purposes, your own videotaped swing is superimposed against this ideal--with perhaps disheartening results.
Kevin McKinney, the sales manager for the school, admits all this high-tech, biomechanical wizardry may be intimidating to Joe Average Golfer. Yet he still insists that "the immediate feedback from the swing model, coupled with the personalized touch of our five full-time instructors [only eight students per group] ensures a valuable golf experience. The Stickman is a student's friend, an instant replay of your faults and a great learning tool."
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