James Pugliese founded Better Golf Academy with a straightforward premise: simplify the golf swing for children of all ages. This approach, he knew, would help to grow the game, not only allowing current junior golfers to more thoroughly enjoy it, but also helping beginning youngsters stick with it through the inevitable frustrations. Through an array of lessons and multiday camps, the academy teaches young clubbers the entire game of golf, from proper full swing mechanics to short-game practice to proper etiquette and safety. Students will be tested for both strengths and weaknesses in their games, and prescribed drills and practice techniques to help them shore up those areas in need of attention.
The path to straighter drives and lower scores is paved with range balls. Northlake Golf Club—a practice facility for golfers of all abilities—fosters full-swing practice at a driving range with a target field that extends more than 300 yards into the distance. A 40-yard short-game area helps golfers develop softer touch around the greens, and bunkers provide a convenient venue for them to practice getting out of the sand without worrying about ballooning scores. After swinging through a bucket of balls, guests can rest and watch TV at the outdoor gazebo or graze on the synthetic grass of the putting green.
Golf Depot's grass-hitting tees, covered and heated hitting bays, and lineup of expert instructors create a immersive environment in which to improve your game. Players can hone everything from their full swing, while emptying buckets onto the range, to their touch around the greens, possible in any kind of weather thanks to an indoor putting green. When practice by rote ceases to yield steady improvement, senior instructors Chris Hardman and Aaron Russell can take the reigns and pass on their extensive golf expertise through private and group lessons.
Hemmed by thickets of native grasses, a babbling brook winds along the fairways of The Golf Village's nine-hole, par 3 course, setting a relaxing tone that seems appropriate for a pared-down layout friendly to leisurely golfers. Adjacent to the course, The Golf Village's driving range fosters golf-game improvement during pre- or postround sessions. The range lets clubbers hit off grass tees throughout the year, and towering light fixtures hang above the green valley, allowing golfers to hone their swing after a day spent at the office or attempting to melt their leftover Civil War bullets into a set of golf clubs.
National Golf Club is the result of a collaboration nearly 20 million years in the making. Ancient oceans sculpted the terrain's hills and made it suitable for longleaf and southern pines to grow high. Then golf legend Jack Nicklaus swooped in to lend his expertise. He designed each hole, doglegging his signature wide fairways toward fast, undulating greens of bent grass. Then there?s the water. Four lakes toy with golfers on all but a handful of holes, testing their accuracy and tact as they flirt with disaster.
Perhaps most notable is the par-4, 439-yard fifth hole. Following a blind drive, players test their technical savvy with a downhill approach toward a rocky creek and a 5-foot hand-stacked stone wall. A short shot could mean a bogey, or worse, a swim. Nicklaus?s design rewards the risk taker, though?a backstop behind the green gives long shots a helping hand, rolling them back toward the hole.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-72 course
Total length of 7,122 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 75.5 from the back tees
Slope rating of 138 from the back tees
Four sets of tees per hole
From their home base at Deep River Golf Range, PGA-certified instructors Scott Duerscherl and Riley Kurtz help students along the path to lower golf scores. The teachers adhere to an overarching philosophy that there is no single perfect swing that works for every player. Instead, they tweak an individual's natural mechanics to create a comfortable swing that can be repeated even when hitting from difficult lies such as hillside dirt or camouflaged snares. During lessons with either Scott or Riley, students focus on the fundamentals of making proper contact with the ground in relation to the ball and controlling the ball's flight path. Casio high-speed cameras capture each cut for analysis with SwingView Pro software, which can spot swing-inhibiting problems such as backswing hitches and straitjacket polo shirts. On days when inclement weather prevents practice on the range, players can head to the indoor teaching area, complete with a sheltered putting green.