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Golf Chips
Palm Coast Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 7 years ago

Thanking the teachers

by: Jock MacKenzie Contributing Writer

Pondering who may be the best teacher of golf as many of us wade through some discouraging days on what we Scots call the links can be a pretty tough chore.

Swing problems, of course, can whack the head pretty good at times, and thus the need for help.

Others, like me, sat and watched brilliant swingers in million-dollar games on TV and said consistently to ourselves, “I can do that. I can swing like that. I can score like they do.”

Well, of course, we can’t. But sometimes it takes months to wake up and put the dream to rest. And what happens to our game, meanwhile, at gorgeous golf courses like Pine, Grand Haven, Conservatory, Palm Harbor, Cypress, Grand Reserve and other courses? Down the tubes is where it goes, and we start asking for the man or woman who will bring back our classic swings in one sweep of the broom.

The best I’ve seen anywhere is Dane Winger, who teaches mostly for Grand Haven members. I got caught hitting practice balls near him one day and was so enthralled at how and what he did that I forgot all about the hapless driver posted in my hands.

Another ready to take the big leap as one of the best teachers around is Gary Dennis, who does his work at Cypress Knoll. I say this because five — and maybe more — golfers have told me in the last month that he is the best teacher they’ve come across. They swear up and down he has improved them better than they could have hoped for.

And don’t sell Eric Gonzales short. After running the popular Nine & Dine game at Cypress each Tuesday, he’ll swing with the best of them.

I’m pretty well endowed with my pal Jim Simes, but I can’t get him without a long rope.

Simes has taught the best in the country. Now even his friends Dick Ackerman and Bill Nelson have trouble getting him to play the game, much less teach it. How good is he? A few months ago at Pine, and age 87, he socked the 370-yard sixth hole in two and missed a bird when the ball spun out of the cup.

I know, there are many other wonderful golf course teachers here. Please bend my ear with an email or phone call, and we’ll do what’s right: Get you the recognition you likely deserve.

Also, I apologize to my son, Scott, and reader Timothy Hall.

Both were kind to add a correction for the motto used by the late sportswriter, Leo Cloutier. His motto written thousands of times was: “With malice toward none.”

Both informed me that the words used are part of a direct quote from Abraham Lincoln. Thank you, gentleman, for being so nice to me.

Last, the Grand Club has delayed its Hall of Fame program, which was originally scheduled for May. I trust it will come back in short time better than ever.


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