Feature: Above Par: The 25 Best Local Golf Instructors
Galloway National Golf Club, 270 South New York Road, Galloway,
Years Teaching: 35.
Backswing: 58 years old.
Florida native fell for the game at age 13 in 1963, when parents took him to the Masters and he watched Jack Nicklaus’s first victory at Augusta; declared his goal to play in the tournament one day and achieved it in 1973. Represented U.S. in Walker Cup (and won), 1973; played in U.S. Open in 1975-’76. Specialty: Diagnostics. “I listen to my students and watch them to figure out if they’re a body swinger, an arm swinger or a wrist swinger.” Scorecard: New Jersey PGA Teacher of the Year, 1995; a Golf Digest top teacher in the state for 21 consecutive years; nominated for Golf Magazine top teacher in state since 1990. Philosophy: “I believe people learn in four ways: through analysis, visually, through touch, and by mimicking. I try to cover all the bases, though I don’t work so much with mimicking, because people don’t come to watch me hit golf balls.”
Wood’s Golf Center, 559 West Germantown Pike, Norristown, 610-279-0678, woodysgolfcenter.com
Years Teaching: 33.
Backswing: 56 years old.
Son of a golf pro in Lafayette Hill; began playing at age 10. Two years later, was competing at Philadelphia Junior events. Considers small frame (he’s five-foot-seven, 145 pounds) an advantage. Played in two U.S. Amateurs and the 1978 U.S. Open. Specialty: Swing setting. Scorecard: Won 1969 Philadelphia Junior, 1975 Philadelphia Patterson Cup, 1985 Pennsylvania Open; one of Golf Range magazine’s Top 50 Instructors in 2007. Philosophy: “There is no one swing for everyone. Everyone has different coordination levels, skill levels, ability levels. I believe consistency, brought on by repetition, leads to better playing.”
Ed Oliver Golf Club, 800 North DuPont Road, Wilmington, 302-571-9041, edolivergolfclub.com
Years Teaching: 12.
Backswing: 46 years old.
Introduced to the game at age 13 by her mom while growing up in Medford. (Mom needed a playing partner.) Teacher in LPGA’s Urban Youth Golf Program (now The First Tee) for 12 years. Specialties: Women and kids; beginners. Scorecard: Ranked third in the nation among female collegiate golfers while at the University of North Carolina, 1980; won the New Jersey Women’s Amateur in 1981 and Delaware Women’s Amateur in 1997, along with four straight South Jersey Women’s Amateurs, 1979-’82, and a Mid-Atlantic Women’s Amateur, 1993. Winner, Carrie P. Russell Compassion and Devotion Award from the LPGA Urban Youth Golf Program, 2001. Philosophy: “Golf does not have to be hard.”
Merion Golf Club, 450 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, 610-642-5600, meriongolfclub.com
Years Teaching: 23.
Backswing: 45 years old.
Dad Robert is a PGA golf professional named Golfweek magazine’s Father of the Year in 2007; one brother coaches golf at Penn State, another is golf pro at Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. “I have a really solid background for teaching golf because I had a lot of competitive experience as a younger golfer.” Specialty: Course management, short game, full swing — “I don’t have one method.” Goal is “getting players to understand the various parts of the game and how they fit together for maximum enjoyment.” Scorecard: Philadelphia PGA Section Horton Smith Award winner, 1996-’97; named one of the top 10 teachers in the state in 2000 by Golf Digest. Philosophy: “There are basic fundamentals that all golfers need, and they have to master those fundamentals. They can never lose sight of why they’re