Take a woman who knows how to swing a tennis racquet, but has never picked up a golf club in her life, and you have the makings for the quintessential "beginner's" golf lesson. A number of golf courses in the area, including Wild Rock Golf Club and Trappers Turn Golf Club, now have golf academies, the perfect camp for aspiring juniors and anyone else who wants to improve their game. But for someone who doesn't know the first thing about clubs, reading the greens, scorecards, carts or golf etiquette, even a beginner's lesson seemed a leap of faith. It turned out to be a good leap at The Kalahari Golf Academy at Trappers Turn. Waiting for me when I arrived at Trappers Turn was Jason Manke, Director of Instruction. He reassured me we would just be getting a feel for basic technique. Big sigh of relief. Manke explained that they offer everything from a half-hour lesson to a full five-day course. Their golf academy runs year-round, moving indoors to the Kalahari Waterpark Resort Convention Center during the off season where Manke sets up golf simulators. You can imagine what a hit that is with corporate groups. Back to my swing. We spent our time on a practice green, away from the eyes of experienced golfers. Manke was patient and motivating, congratulating me on successfully lofting the ball each time, except for that one I missed entirely. Our conversation veered from technique to the make-up of his classes. Interestingly, while less than 20% of their tee times go to women, nearly 70% of the adult participants in their golf lessons are women. I was entertained by his analysis. "Women are more willing to process direction and accept constructive criticism." So true. Here are two quick tips from Manke for all of you coachable beginners out there.
Develop a consistent set-up, ball position and grip. Making tiny changes at that point leads to quick improvement.
Visualize a baseball or softball swing, tilted over at the hips so the club travels on an arc near the ground. Then, couple that with all your weight ending up on your front foot, your belly-button pointed to the target and your rear toe pointed straight to the ground. There, you've learned the basic golf swing.
Jason Manke was honored as the 2008 "Teacher of the Year" by the Golf Course Owners of Wisconsin and he's a finalist for the 2009 "Teacher of the Year" award from the Wisconsin PGA. View all Wisconsin Dells Golf Courses.