The week after Labor Day carries an unmistakable air of change. Temps begin to cool, the NFL season starts, and school is back in session. Second only to January 1st, the beginning of September provides a great opportunity for renewal. Maybe it’s time to attend classes once again yourself at a school that’s a lot more fun than when you were a kid.
Butch Harmon School of Golf
The world’s No. 1 instructor just doesn’t put his name on the school; he’ll actually be there to teach you, too. In addition to instruction with Butch and his staff, the three-day school includes computerized video analysis, club fitting, and 27-hole playing lessons with his staff at Rio Secco and Cascata, plus breakfast and lunch with Butch, on-course interaction, and a clinic. $5,900, includes four nights at Caesars Palace.
Sea Island Golf Performance Center
St. Simons, Ga.
Why do so many PGA Tour pros make Sea Island their home? Because so many top instructors, like Jack Lumpkin and Todd Anderson, do, too. The “Train Like the Pros Program” is the same one the pros do, covering five core areas: long game, short game, fitness, club fitting, and mental game. In addition to a fitness evaluation and workout plan, you’ll also receive seven hours of instruction, a two-hour playing lesson, two hours of course management, and three hours of club fitting at its new upgraded facility. $1,000–$2,000 depending on instructor.
Pebble Beach Golf Academy
Pebble Beach, Calif.
The practice facility at the nation’s premier golf resort didn’t come close to matching the on-course experience but that all changed earlier this year with the opening of the new range and 3,000-sq.-ft. Learning Center, which has three instruction studios with the latest swing-analysis technology and a robotic swing trainer. The three-day school includes three nights’ lodging and three rounds of on-course instruction, including one round on the famed links. $3,300 (Dec. thru March) or $4,600 (April thru Nov.) per person.
Jim McLean Golf School
Entering its 23rd season at Trump Doral, one of the oldest schools will get even better this winter with the opening of one of the best indoor training facilities in the country. The Three Day “Player’s” School is a 20-hour program with a 3:1 student-teacher ratio, TrackMan analysis, BioDynamics, and personalized video with instructor voiceover, as well as lunch daily. $2,995 Dec. thru May.
The Leadbetter Academy
Next to Butch Harmon, no one has worked with as many top players as David Leadbetter. Although he has more than 20 worldwide academies, the headquarters are at ChampionsGate Golf Resort near Orlando at a facility designed by Leadbetter himself for the ultimate learning experience. There are seven state-of-the-art video rooms, biomechanics and fitness studios, indoor putting room, and club fitting. The Three-Day Golf Retreat devotes two days to the full swing and one day to the short game and includes nine holes of on-course instruction, as well as a one-hour session noted sports psychologist Dr. Robert Winters.
The great thing about renowned short-game guru Dave Pelz is that he’ll come to you, or at least somewhere near you, instead of you having to go to him. You can find one of his 3-Day Scoring Game Schools from Ireland to California at some of the world’s finest resorts. Incorporating video, feedback devices, and his latest research, the schools have a 4:1 teach-student ratio and focus on the short game and putting where golfers lose almost 80 percent of their shots to par. $2,500–$3,000 depending on location.
Reynolds Golf Academy
Few golf facilities in the country can match the one found at Reynolds, which not only includes five great courses but one of the best two-sided, multi-target ranges with a fantastic short-game area. Led by top instructor Charlie King, the Three Day Essentials of Golf School has a 4:1 student-teacher ratio, fitness and video analysis, and covers every aspect of the game, both physical and mental.
Pinehurst Golf Academy
Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
With its six-day Weekday School, this year’s U.S. Open host offers one of the most comprehensive programs in the country that includes five rounds of golf, four days of instruction, accommodations, and all meals. There’s even a Thursday night closing banquet with the instructors, who are led by one of the best in the game, Eric Alpenfels.
Mike Bender Golf Academy
Lake Mary, Fla.
Mike Bender might not be as well known as Butch Harmon or David Leadbetter, but he is one of the top teachers in the game and the longtime instructor to Zach Johnson and two-dozen other pros. What sets him apart is his training invention that allows golfers to feel whether the body and club are in the preferred positions during the swing. The Three-Day Golf school includes use of the invention, TrackMan analysis, playing lessons, putting lab, and a DVD of your swing with comments.
Sea Pines Resort School
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Headed up by one of the best young teachers in the country, Tim Cooke, his Signature Two-Day School starts with a strength and flexibility analysis, “Kinematic” sequence testing, and TrackMan club-movement to determine your best path to full-wing improvement. You’ll also work on your short game, including putting stroke analysis on a SAM PuttLab in the Learning Center’s new state-of-the-art facility, as well as take your new swing to the course for on-course strategies. I can personally vouch for Cooke’s bonafides as he just happens to be my teacher. $1,350–$2,150 (for three, two, or individual)