Golf is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get a little exercise and be competitive. But playing bad golf can make the game unworthy of your time and energy — not to mention frustrate and embarrass you. That's why taking a lesson or 10 can not only improve your score on the links, but also your enjoyment of the game.
Richmond has a talented group of instructors who are eager to craft your swing into something simple, successful and repeatable.
For 16 seasons, Nancy Ramsbottom (golf email@example.com or 363-0266) lived the LPGA dream. In 1994, she finished 27th on the money list. Now she passes on that playing experience to her students at Hunting Hawk Golf Club (15201 Ashland Road, 749-1900, huntinghawkgolf.com).
"I've done what I teach," Ramsbottom says. "I've walked the talk."
As a player, Ramsbottom was known for her straight strokes, leading the LPGA Tour in driving accuracy four times. She even has six career holes-in-one. Hunting Hawk has everything you need for a quality lesson — an all-grass driving range and practice greens for approach shots. Ramsbottom's rate is $100 per hour.
Adam Smith (adamsmithgolf.com or 794-8255) was recently named the 2008 PGA Mid-Atlantic Teacher of the Year. He is the director of instruction at Salisbury Country Club (13620 W. Salisbury Road, 794-6841, salisburycountryclub.com).
"Students should be told in advance that they are not learning rocket science but rather a fun challenge that requires athletic skill, dedication to practice and an understanding that hard work pays off," Smith says.
The celebrated teaching professional likes to keep it simple and make one setup change and/or one swing change that will improve his student. Though Salisbury is a private club, Smith does teach guests of members at a rate of $125 for a 45-minute lesson.
Janet Phillips (794-0010) is another award-winning teaching professional. Among many honors, she recently was named 2006 LPGA Professional of the Year for the entire nation. Phillips is the co-owner of Windy Hill Sports Complex (16500 Midlothian Turnpike, 794-0010, windyhillsports.com), which offers all aspects of golf instruction from a video system to a lit driving range to a short-game area. It is also one of the largest sports complexes in the state.
Phillips has a large following among women golfers.
"Golf is not an easy game to learn and can be intimidating," Phillips says. "It's important for me to know why a woman wants to play. Is it for her husband? For the love of the game? To continue her athletic career? But whatever motivates them to play, it's important they enjoy it." Phillips charges $55 per half-hour.
Tyler Clark (461-9305 or 748-7770) is the kind of teacher who uses encouragement rather than intimidation to help a student improve. He is a Class A PGA professional and teaches out of the Tyler Clark Golf Academy at Ironbridge Sports Park (11400 Iron Bridge Road, 748-7770, iron bridgesportspark.com/golf_lessons.html).
"Many students have walked away saying they enjoy my lesson because I'm easy to take a lesson from," Clark says.
Ironbridge Sports Park opened in May 2007, so everything there has that new-car smell. It also features the longest go-kart track in Richmond. Clark, who used to work as an assistant professional at the Country Club of Virginia, charges $40 per half-hour and $70 per hour.
If you want to learn how to be a better ball striker, then go get a lesson from Paul Sargent (360-0093) at The Dominion Club (6000 Dominion Club Drive, 360-1200, tdcva.com). Sargent is a PGA-certified instructor and a former University of Rochester player. "I focus much of my instruction on how to move the golf club through the impact area," Sargent says. "We start at impact and then work on how the student's body can support that move."
The Dominion Club is private, but Sargent welcomes outside students, many of whom are referrals. He has a video system at his disposal as well as a great practice facility. Sargent's rates are $75 an hour and $45 for a half-hour.
Carl Filipowicz (261-0000), PGA teaching professional and general manager of The Crossings (800 Virginia Center Parkway, 261-0000, virginiagolf.com/crossings.html), concentrates on fundamentals — the setup, alignment, grip and weight transfer. He's a great choice for any beginner. He's also a local, born and raised in Richmond, and played his college golf at Virginia Commonwealth University. "I would say 99 out of 100 times, the student and I know common people," Filipowicz says.
The Crossings features a short-game practice space and a nice, large putting green. The teaching area is secluded from the rest of the course. Filipowicz charges $60 for a 45-minute lesson.
Jim Allen (784-3544 or 305-3200) offers some of the most affordable lessons in town. He is the head golf professional at Sycamore Creek (1991 Manakin Road, 784-3544, sycamore creekgolfcourse.com/instruction.htm), which has been highly rated by local publications. "There's a lot of people who want to play well, so I try to keep my rates reasonable so everyone can have a lesson," Allen says. Allen's rates are $45 per hour for men and $40 per hour for women and juniors.