Let’s begin with the basic premise that mastering golf is an unattainable goal for most mortals. This is a sport that on the surface seems ridiculously simple. But anyone who has taken a whack at a puny little ball with an instrument that appears to have been designed by sadists, will tell you that in reality golf is one of the most complicated and frustrating nightmares conceived by man.
And yet, the self-flagellating masochists who practice the sport keep coming back to the greens hoping to master the perfect swing, tap a flawless putt and boast that the round just finished ranks up there with the gloriously smooth doings of the non-humans seen on TV.
Clients contemplating improving their game have a place to go and receive tips from the game’s best instructors: the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, with 28 sparkling facilities scattered throughout the world where first-class service and sterling instruction are de rigueur.
Headquartered in Orlando, FL, the academies are the brainchild of David Leadbetter, the English golf legend regarded as the father of the modern golf swing. Golfers he has taken under his tutelage for the last three decades won more than a dozen major championship titles and well over 100 individual worldwide tournament victories.
“Yes, we have a large number of professional golfers on our roster of students,” says Darin Tennyson, director of operations at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, “but we are also dedicated to helping golfers just like you swing better, score better and have more fun playing golf. We pride ourselves in delivering a philosophy that is flexible to golfers of all ages and abilities.
“All instructors have completed a stringent and extensive training program. This certification process assures clients the highest level of instruction consistency, no matter which David Leadbetter Golf Academy around the world they choose. This initial certification process [for our instructors] takes approximately one year to complete under the guidance and instruction of David Leadbetter and the worldwide director of certification.”
The academy’s flagship destination is on the grounds of the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, an upscale pleasure dome featuring two world-class courses designed by Greg Norman where no detail has been overlooked. ChampionsGate is nestled on 1,200 acres of orange groves stretching to the foot of rolling hills and its International Course offers golf in the staid style practiced on the British Isles. It also boasts of being widely recognized as having Florida’s highest rating (76.3) and its 18 holes span over an astounding 7,363 yards.
Clients who want to submit themselves to what many consider golf’s ultimate boot camp will find four acres of a doubled-sided driving range, a 2-acre short-game practice facility, including a separate pitching area with target greens and fairway bunkers and nearly 30,000 sq. ft. of chipping and putting green surfaces. Its classrooms are fitted with the latest in V1 Golf swing analysis computer technology and software.
Guaranteeing a maximum of four students per instructor and using a holistic approach, courses cover everything from club fitting and tee tips, to full-swing and short game analysis, as well as strength conditioning. Lessons range from 1-hour intensive practices and full-day one-on-one sessions, to half-day mini schools. There are also all-encompassing 2- and 3-day retreats for groups of four or fewer, making it one of the most effective, customized group and private teaching golf programs anywhere.
A 3-day mini school Stay and Play package from May to September runs from approximately $1,679 sgl and $2,834 dbl. Rates from October to the end of the year are slightly higher.
Although the academy can be found in many destinations, some of the most attractive stand out in places like Hawaii, British Columbia and Naples. FL. In Maui, the academy holds forth at the Wailea Golf Club, in a Hawaiian plantation-style building sitting on the side of a dormant volcano. It has a dual layered practice tee totaling more than 11,000 sq. ft. capable of accommodating large groups, while the short game area is perfect for practice pitching, chipping and bunker play.
In British Columbia, the academy is at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club. It, too, sits on stunning surroundings. Jaw-dropping mountain settings are the norm here. Once in a while skiers dash down mountain slopes while golfers practice their game. The Naples, FL, destination reflects all the easy attitude of South Florida at La Playa Beach and Golf Resort. This is an updated version of Florida’s “Old World” style, as the resort decor is elegant but comfortable. In addition to golf, here one finds the ideal atmosphere of a beachfront resort.