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Golf Schools

Robert Thompson’s recent post about the golf school proliferation is very interesting. To me it’s healthy for the golf professionals because teaching has finally returned as a good source of their income, and there is no better way to become an influence in the game than teaching and related club fitting. Win Win.

For many years a Head Pro could sell two shirts and make more money than teaching Mrs. MCGillacutty. Now lesson fees have increased, the club has the shop, so the Pro is teaching again. Good news for golf! No, great news!

Back to the name Schools. The Resort where I am employed spent $500,000 to build a golf academy in 2000 to Butch Harmon’s specs. He even came to the opening, for an extra $50,000. The Butch Harmon Golf Academy stayed open for 3 years (Butch didn’t make it back as his fee went up to $100,000 per visit).

The Resort decided to cut its losses 50% and re-opened the School as a Jim McLean Golf Academy. This made sense as Jim’s main school at Doral is only a 30 minute flight away and it was “busting at the seams”. It was an easy transition, the Butch Instructor was trained to become a Jim McLean instructor, the computer software was changed (the comparison pros used in swing analysis changed from Harmon professionals to McLean professionals). After two years the McLean School also closed, now we just have a range where myself and two of our professionals teach, it is also available for visiting Professionals who want to bring a few members south with them for Spring Training. We also have a great storage building with some neat pictures in it.

Should we try David Leadbeater next? (I have even called Leadbetter “Leadbeater” in his presence – Leadbeater has stuck in my mind since I heard Al Balding refer to him as that). Our problem here is we have no local population to support a name Golf School and we have a Resort that doesn’t figure it’s worth losing more than $100,000 a year to promote someone who never comes by. But building them in Toronto might work as there certainly is a large population all wanting to learn to play golf to take advantage of all the low cost memberships being offered.

How does the school in PEI do? I can’t imagine it breaking even with their length of season.

One very positive thing about golf instruction right now – it all seems to be common sense, proven principal driven instruction. If you go to an experienced professional you will improve. It’s up to you how much this will cost, regardless you still have to practice!

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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