While planning a trip to Phoenix, it occurred to me that this might be an opportunity to attend a golf school. Being more than a little compulsive, I researched the internet thoroughly, and ultimately selected Bird Golf Academy, because it seemed to be in a nice location, and the principles of instruction described on their website appealed to me.
How did I reach the point of considering a golf school? Go back two years. After being encouraged by many friends who play golf, I decided to take it up, at age 60. Admittedly, I played a bit as a boy when I caddied to make a few dollars, but had not touched a club in 45 years. I began to play, and hit some reasonable shots, but decided I needed a few lessons, which I arranged with several local instructors. Unfortunately, I found that after each lesson (separated by several weeks), my game seemed to worsen. Lots of attention to different aspects of my strokes, without an overall perspective, which left me confused, and way “in my head” when it came to my golf swing.
After 2 years of this, I was about ready to quit what had become a frustrating game. But always the optimist, I decided to give it one more chance, and thus began my adventure at Bird Golf Academy. This was going to be make or break, either improve or give up.
I was impressed at the outset. First arrived a psychological profile quiz, designed to help my instructor know my natural tendencies and how to coach to them. Second, my phone discussions with Jay Ewing suggested a very friendly and accommodating place with lots of help with local arrangements.
My wife (a non-golfer) and I arrived at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass venue, which is delightfully located on Native American land, boasting a 4-star resort, and 5-star restaurant, and of course, the 2 meticulously maintained 18 hole courses. For the next 3 days my wife easily entertained herself at the spa, on the walking trails, watching wild horses, and at local sites, while I was on to golf!
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had Craig Waryan as my instructor for the better part of the next 3 days. Craig is my age, and a very interesting and amicable person, in addition to being a master PGA instructor, with a history of tournament play and current college team coaching. (I think he took me on as a charity case!) From the outset, it was obvious that Craig had done this before. He had a great system of building on putting, chipping and pitching into the full swing, all viewed through the perspective of a holistic approach to the game. So instead of dissecting my swing, Craig focused on balance, rhythm, timing and for me (a severe left brain type) getting out of my head and into the “swing” of things.
Without further ado, let me just say that I never had more fun on a golf course. The practice facilities were fantastic, and I learned more about reading greens from Craig than I could imagine. Our playing together in the afternoon after morning practice was a phenomenal learning experience. The concentrated 3 days of instruction did more for me than 10 years of intermittent lessons could ever accomplish.
It will be another month before our snow melts in New Hampshire, but I can’t wait to get out on the course. I hit the best shots of my life during my 3 days at Bird Academy, and they have a special program that allows me to stay in touch with my instructor, and to even send videos for analysis if I lose memory of any techniques. I call that special. Special people, special place, special memories. Go Golf!
Jack Cronenwett MD
Hanover, New Hampshire
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Jack Cronenwett MD