There are 27,000 PGA professionals eligible for the PGA Master Professional status?only 178 have attained the elite credential for mastering instruction. Among these distinguished golf professionals is Andr? Panet-Raymond. To meet the Master level's requirements of maintaining "the highest degree of excellence for themselves and their operations," golf pros have to complete a Master's project in their chosen career path (from operations to instruction), in much the same way every college professor must learn to crochet their own tweed jacket before earning their PhD.
His classroom: the rolling greens of The River Club in Bradenton and the rolling greens of two golf courses in North Carolina. His students: everyone from advanced adults to young kids just learning to swing. In fact, U.S. Kids Golf named Panet-Raymond one of the Top 50 instructors in 2004, an honor he continues to uphold after teaching more than 40,000 lessons, which range from basic concepts for beginners to mental training for tour players.
Tim Conaway does not believe in a one-swing-fits-all approach to golf. That?s why he helps his clients develop swings based on golfer-specific factors, such as size, strength, and whether or not a student has a third arm. With more than a dozen years of teaching experience under his belt, Tim supplements his ability for spotting flaws with state-of-the-art video technology. He also focuses on the mental aspects of the game, teaching students how to visualize shots and manage the course to their advantage. After the lesson, students get virtual ?lockers? on Tim?s website stocked with lesson notes and personalized recommended resources.
Feeling the raw power of a Ferrari engine as you floor the pedal and steer down an empty road may seem like a fantasy to some?but it's a perfectly attainable adrenaline fix at The Motorsport Lab. The Lab's driving experts allow clients to slip behind the wheel of a Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, or other rare and exotic automobile for a once-in-a-lifetime ride.
After explaining the vehicle features and the proper safety protocols, staff members turn over the keys. Drivers can gain a feeling for the automobile's speed and cat-like agility while guiding it around a controlled autocross course for several laps. For a truly immersive experience, The Motorsport Lab occasionally rents out its sports cars for weekend-long escapes that let clients travel in style and become the object of envy at any drive-through dry cleaner.
Missing Links Driving Range beckons to serious athletes and fun-seeking families alike with three batting cages, a 37-hitting-stall driving range, an 18-hole miniature-golf course, and a golf school helmed by two PGA-certified pros. Pin-hunters can assume their stance in virtually any conditions at the driving range, as 20 of the hitting stalls are covered and the entire complex is lighted to cater to late-night practitioners or 9 irons with a knack for astronomy. Putt-putt posses can tap like trumpet players at dawn through a mini-golf course that features a lagoon, lighthouse, waterfalls, and other tropical-themed obstacles, or hone their game more meticulously with lessons from the expert instructors at Smith 'n Barber Golf School. Line drives, grounders, and fly balls carom off of whirring bats or oversize hot dogs inside Missing Links' three batting cages, where automated pitchers serve up both fast-flung baseballs and high-arching, slow-pitch softballs. After a long day of swatting spheres, guests can cool off with 24 flavors of soft serve and other subzero savories served at the onsite ice-cream parlor.
At Tampa Bay Downs, thoroughbred horses burst through the starting gates, and spectators cheer for their picks and spend an afternoon living it up on amenity-rich premises. Visitors can wager on live and simulcast races, or wander into The Silks Poker Room and hunker down for a game of Texas Hold?em. The racetrack features numerous restaurants, grills, and bars as well as a fully lit, 22-acre golf-practice facility with all-Bermuda-grass hitting stations, chipping greens, and a covered range.
The 9-hole SNAG (Starting New at Golf) course at Alico Family Golf does not look like your average course. To begin with, there are no holes; instead, players take aim at a raised target called a Flagsticky (which looks like a thicker but shorter flagstick). A hole is completed when players have stuck their ball?a velcro sphere slightly smaller than a tennis ball?to the Flagsticky using two colorful clubs: a Launcher (made for all full swings, pitches, and chips) and a Roller (the SNAG equivalent of a putter). The modified game fosters golf skills for players of all ages, though its colorful nature and lower degree of difficulty make it ideal for kids or aspiring cartoonists.
The golf complex cultivates a love of the game across other facilities, including an 18-hole miniature golf course and a driving range with 60 grass hitting stalls and ten covered bays. For its efforts in promoting golf, Alico Family Golf has become the home for The First Tee Lee County. The charitable organization supports golf programs for young people as a means of developing character and enriching lives.