Feature: Above Par: The 25 Best Local Golf Instructors
Northampton Country Club, 5049 William Penn Highway, Easton, 610-253-2583, northamptoncountryclub.org
Years Teaching: 30.
Backswing: 55 years old.
Took up game at seven (“part of father-son bonding”). Born in California, spent childhood in Annapolis; moved to Pennsylvania for junior high. Played the PGA Tour in 1980 and ’81, with no significant finishes. Head pro at his club. Specialties: Drawing out talent in players, from juniors through pro levels. “I have a good record with people who want to be a little more competitive.” Scorecard: Named Teacher of the Year by Philadelphia PGA, 1992. Philosophy: “I try to take what students have naturally and make that work to the best of their ability. And concentrate on fundamentals. I can’t offer anything groundbreaking, just plain practice, hard work, and hopefully enjoyment.”
Cape May National Golf Club, 834 Florence Avenue, Cape May, 609-884-1563, cmngc.com
Years Teaching: 20.
Backswing: 43 years old.
Raised in Northfield; started playing in high school. Loves golf because it’s “an individual sport; you really get out of it what you put in. It’s more of a thinking game than an athletic game.” Has a degree in mechanical engineering, which he applies to teaching methods. Has played in the Philadelphia PGA Tournament every year since he was 24. Specialty: Flexibility. “You need patience to teach a beginner, and knowledge to teach a pro. I’m still a student myself; I’m learning new techniques and use new knowledge.” Scorecard: Won the Philadelphia Open at Pine Valley in 2002. Philosophy: “I use my engineering to attack the areas of technique. The trick is, you have so many different kinds of people—visual learners, tactile learners. You have to get the message to a lot of different players. Some people need you to be technical, but beginners will be scared off by too much technical talk. Everyone has a different avenue.”
Ed Oliver Golf Club, 800 North DuPont Road, Wilmington, 302-571-9041, edolivergolfclub.com
Years Teaching: 18.
Backswing: 44 years old.
Began playing two years after graduating from high school in Cherry Hill: “I was always very athletic, and this was a new challenge.” Played competitively for a while, but “didn’t love it.” Has qualified for two USGA events; member of LPGA since 1991. Specialties: Tailoring programs based on playing level. “A beginner and a competitor need two different teachers. I try to be those teachers.” Scorecard: Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Region, 2003; Golf Digest’s number one teacher in Delaware, 2007-’08; LPGA sectional Teacher of the Year, 1996; honored by Golf for Women as four-time Top Teacher, 2000, ’03-’05. Philosophy: “I teach the game proportionately. A lot of people think they’re going to learn how to swing, but that’s only a small percentage of the game. I have a reputation for working with the mental aspects of the game, but no one has shown me yet how the mental and physical aspects can be separated.”
French Creek Golf Club, 4500 Conestoga Road, Elverson, 610-913-6330, frenchcreekgolf.com
Years Teaching: 10.
Backswing: 38 years old.
Grew up in Chicago and fell in love with golf “by complete accident. I was rehabbing a knee injury by walking, picked up an old set of clubs, and got hooked.” Played the 1990 Golden State Tour in California. Specialties: Junior and ladies’ clinics; video instruction. Scorecard: Sat on the board of the Assistants Committee of the Georgia PGA; nominated for Assistant Professional of the Year by the Georgia PGA; currently sits on the board of the Junior Golf Committee for the Philadelphia PGA. Philosophy: “Nail the basics: grip, stance, posture.”
The Bridges Golf Club, 6729 York Road, Abbottstown, 717-891-0684, bridgesgc.com
Years Teaching: 44.
Backswing: 64 years old.
Picked up the game from his dad; started caddying at 16. Played the South American tour in the late 1960s, the Mexico tour in the early ’70s, and several Florida mini-tours. Specialty: Communication. “I have the best eyes in golf. I’m able to see swing flaws and correct them. I have a knack for getting people to feel the golf swing and hit the ball pretty well.” Scorecard: Teacher of the Year for the Philadelphia Section PGA in 1986, 1993 and 1999. Winner of Horton Smith Award, which recognizes contributions to golf education, 1998; Philadelphia Section PGA Central Counties Chapter Professional of the Year, 1987; on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers list every year since 2003. Ranked number one teacher in the state by Golf Digest, 2007. Philosophy: Good fundamentals solve everything. “I subscribe to the four swing principles: impact, developing club head lag in the downswing, the swing pass, and using your body correctly—what I call ‘the pivot.’”