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Best Golf Schools

Largest golf instruction operation in the world, with 30 schools in 14 states and two international locations (more than 17,000 students attended these schools last year). Founded in 1971 by Jacobs, a former Ryder Cup player, and Shelby Futch, a Golf Magazine editor. Two-, three-, four-, and five-day sessions available. Daily classes 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with a 5:1 student-teacher ratio. The basics are emphasized, as is Jacobs's ball flight theory. Programs range from weekend commuter packages (starting at $195) to five-day sessions ($895 and up with lodging) at Painted Mountain Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona.

11780 U.S. Hwy. 1
North Palm Beach, FL 33408
800/642-5528 or 561/626-3900

The school adheres to the principle that the best teachers teach people, not theories. Instruction is grounded in fundamentals and enhanced by state-of-the-art technology. Three-day Master Golf sessions (limited to 18 students, starting at $2,595 with lodging, $2,095 without) include personalized instruction in all phases of game, digital-imaging videotape analysis, take-home videotape, 9 holes daily, equipment evaluation, and "Master Golf Workbook." Sessions held at the Boca Raton Resort and Club and the Golf for Women Magazine Golf School in Boca Raton, Florida, as well as at The Scottsdale Princess/Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, AZ.

Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club
Hwy. 17, Box 2580
Pawleys Island, SC 29585
800/624-4653 or 803/237-4993

Ritson is one of the grand old men of golf instruction, having served as mentor to David Leadbetter and many other top teachers. The school is geared to golfers of all abilities, with a strong emphasis on keeping the swing as simple as possible. Mental aspects of game are addressed. Three-day package includes three nights accomodation, three breakfasts, green fees for three rounds of golf, 10.5 hours of instruction with video analysis and a take-home instructional video, at prices ranging from $640 to $820. Five-day packages feature 17.5 hours of instruction, including two 9-hole playing lessons and the same extras as three-day sessions, at prices ranging from $1190 to $1445. The commuter School has a variety of classes, such as half-day and weekend sessions. The Jack Nicklaus-designed layout at Pawleys Plantation is one of the best in the Myrtle Beach area.

Carolina Vista
Village of Pinehurst, NC 28374
800/795-4653 or 919/295-6811

Under the direction of former PGA of America president Don Padgett, the school combines the latest computer technology with one of this country's most complete indoor/outdoor teaching facilities and access to the resort's eight layouts. According to Padgett, "We stress the fundamentals before beginners have a chance to learn bad habits." Student-teacher ratio is 5:1. Morning clinics cover everything from driving and chipping to pitching and putting; afternoons are devoted to on-course instruction. The school's weeklong seasonal sessions (March - May, September and October), with four days of instruction, start at $2,000. Weekend seasonal rates start at $1,615 ($1,445 June and July). Pinehurst's weeklong Junior Golf Advantage School, for boys and girls 11 - 17, costs $1,150. Advanced Junior Golf Advantage School, for young tournament-minded players (handicaps of 15 or less), $1,230. Golf Advantage School programs also at Barton Creek in Austin, Texas (800/336-6157).

1005 Midland Rd.
Southern Pines, NC 28388
800/747-7272 or 910/692-7111

Since 1969 owner and head teaching pro Peggy Kirk Bell, a great champion in her day, has been leading what she dubs a Golfari (each one limited to women, juniors, or families) as well as four-day Learning Centers open to all golfers; five-day women's-only Golfaris ($1150 with lodging and meals) are especially popular. All aspects of the game are covered. Learning Center sessions use verbal, visual, and kinesthetic instruction. Tuition includes cart, lodging, meals, and greens fees on Pine Needles course, site for 1996 & 2001 U.S. Women's Opens.

3962 Wilkinson Rd.
Gaylord, MI 49735
888/732-5060 or 800-444-6711 or 888-TREETOP or 517/732-6711

Smith, one of the rising stars of the profession, employs video and personalized drills, with a particular emphasis on individualized instruction. His "premiere" sessions, taught with longtime colleagues Henry Young and Jim Schuman, include 3.5 hours of full swing instruction and are $600, with a maximum of five students. These may also be rolled into all-inclusive package at Treetops Sylvan Resort, where Smith is director of golf. Three-day weekend workshops conducted by Young and Schuman are also offered. ($750 for commuters, call for information on package rates). Masters sessions are scheduled for Mondays (short game) and Tuesdays (full swing) and are priced at $300, with a maximum of 4 students.

Box 81
Arkville, NY 12406
800/447-8894 or 914/586-3187

Stafford, who holds a master's degree in music education, is known for ability to communicate the rhythmic feel of a proper swing. All instructors use Stafford's method to master the basics—grip, connection, levels and tempo—and eliminate bad habits. Emphasis on short game, including stroke-saving specialty shots. Video analysis used. Five hours of daily instruction. Classes grouped by ability level, with four - six pupils per instructor. Year-round classes at Palm-Aire Country Club in Pompano Beach, Florida. Two-, three-, and four-day schools scheduled April-October at Peek 'n Peak Resort in Clymer, New York; Hotel L'Esterel in Quebec; and Tory Pines Resort in Francestown, New Hampshire. Two-day weekend package, April - October, at Windham House in Windham, New York, $444; four-day midweek program $785.

Stratton Mountain, VT 05155
800/843-6867 or 802/297-4000

New 22-acre training facility (wide fairway area, large target greens, sand traps, expansive putting and chipping areas) at 4,000-acre ski/golf resort. Director Rich Setter and staff stick to the basics and help novices build confidence. Individualized instruction: student-teacher ratio 5:1. Two-day weekend packages include two full days of instruction plus rounds on resort's 27-hole course, and range from $564 to $604. Two-day midweek package also available. Five-day midweek program, with four full days of instruction and a fifth of free play, ranges from $859 to $989.

Box 200 River Rd.
Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA 18356
800/797-9464 or 717/421-6666

Headed by Dick Farley, a Golf Magazine teaching editor, and Rick McCord. This 30-year-old school incorporates methods of the late Ernest Jones, who was adamant about getting students to swing the club head rhythmically. Video analysis and swing training devices used to refine swing plane, swing movement, and alignment. Student-teacher ratio 5:1. Six hours of instruction daily in all aspects of game. Playing time included. One-day refresher schools available to former students. Three-day packages, staged at three locations, $695 - $980.

Brian McCallen is a senior editor at Golf Magazine and author of "Golf Resorts of the World" (Abrams).


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