Feature: Above Par: The 25 Best Local Golf Instructors
Penn Oaks Golf Club, 150 Penn Oaks Drive, West Chester, 610-399-8898, pennoaksgolfclub.com
Years Teaching: 44.
Backswing: 68 years old.
Started caddying at Kennett Square Country Club in 1953; became head pro at West Chester in 1963. “My focus has been on teaching and the club-professional aspect of it, meaning the business end. I teach, but I sell equipment and clothing to club members. I handle the budget and help run tournaments, so I’m involved in the whole process of golf.” Specialties: Working with kids. Taught a junior clinic in Phoenixville for 11 years, where as many as 200 young golfers learned the game from him each year. Scorecard: Four-time Philadelphia Section junior golf leader, an award given by the Philadelphia PGA to teachers who encourage young golfers; recipient, 1999 PGA of America Junior Golf Leader Award; elected to Philadelphia PGA Hall of Fame, 2001. Philosophy: “My goal is to teach to the individual. Just be patient with juniors, and reinforce good habits that benefit them in the future. You never talk down to a kid — you must always be encouraging.”
Lori Van Sickle
Broad Run Golfer’s Club, 1520 Tattersall Way, West Chester, 610-738-4410,
Years Teaching: 20.
Backswing: 46 years old.
This Wilmington, Delaware, native picked up the game relatively late — she was 21. “I was challenged, because it was the first sport I wasn’t able to pick up and be good at.” PGA of America’s first Certified Master Professional; played FUTURES Tour as well as two U.S. Amateurs and Mid-Amateurs. Former pro at DuPont Country Club and Inniscrone Golf Club in Avondale. Specialty: Finding the right swing — “Fitting a golf swing to the student, vs. fitting the student to a golf swing.” Scorecard: Golf for Women Top 50 Teachers, 2003-’07; Golf Digest Best Teachers in the State, 2004-’07; Top 50 U.S. Kids Teachers, 2004-’06 (U.S. Kids Golf organization). Philosophy: “I want people to take up golf because they want to play golf, not because of their parents or significant other, and to recognize that it’s a life sport.”
White Manor Country Club, 831 Providence Road, Malvern, 610-644-9795, whitemanorcc.com
Years Teaching: 24.
Backswing: 45 years old.
Grew up in Cherry Hill as the son of a golf pro, and right out of high school decided he wanted to teach. Currently White Manor’s director of instruction. Has trained some star clients, including LPGA Hall of Famer Betsy King and Scotland’s Catriona Matthew. Specialties: Working with women and juniors; strong record at helping kids score golf scholarships. Scorecard: Won Philadelphia PGA Teacher of the Year in 1998 and 2007. Named a Top Teacher in Pennsylvania by Golf Digest every year since 2000; nominated by Golf Magazine for its Top 100 Teachers for the past eight years. Philosophy: “I’m a total game teacher. I don’t believe in standing in front of a virtual tee. I teach a tense short game.”
Talamore Country Club, 723 Talamore Drive, Ambler, 215-641-1300, talamorepa.com
Years Teaching: 25.
Backswing: 46 years old.
Tried golf with his high-school girlfriend; loved playing with her so much, he eventually married her. Has played competitively as an amateur. Specialty: Teaching aids and gadgetry. Can freeze-frame video of a student’s swing at any position to pinpoint areas of weakness. Vast digital database allows access to more than 100 other golfers for comparison. Scorecard: One of Golf Digest’s best instructors in the state; a Golf Magazine top regional teacher; named one of the top 50 instructors in the country by Golf Range magazine; 2003 Philadelphia PGA Teacher of the Year. Philosophy: “I want our studio to feel academic. I want students to experience a learning atmosphere, like they’re in a college classroom.”