Whether you’re a full-time resident seeking improvement to your game or a visitor planning an upcoming golf visit, the Coachella Valley’s bounty of courses are complemented by exceptional instructional schools that operate all year.
From the latest swing-study technology to primo practice ranges to unique mental approaches, the desert provides a full tee sheet of eduational options.
Here are five schools where you don’t have to hit the books, just the ball.
Bird Golf Academy at Classic Club
Featured in Golf Tips magazine as one of the top instructional schools in the country, Bird Golf Academy has set up shop at the Classic Club. Along with lodging arrangements, on-course study includes unlimited play and prep at Classic, along with upwards of 30 hours of instruction.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PGA WEST
Led by Bryan Lebedevitch, the PGA WEST Golf Academy offers marquee instruction.
PGA WEST Golf Academy
The annual CareerBuilder Challenge won’t be the only time you will see the world’s best swinging in La Quinta. At the PGA West Golf Academy, nationally-renowned instructor Bryan Lebedevitch and a marquee staff of teaching pros help define the rep of “The Western Home of Golf in America,” according to its website.
For some proof of purchase, just look at Lebedevitch’s past and present student stable, which has included LPGA stars Christie Kerr and Mirim Lee.
As for amateurs seeking improvement, single lessons are available as well as golf schools that include eight or more hours of instruction. Players are fit for clubs and each student also receives a personalized health and wellness plan.
“Most people don’t really have an idea what they truly are doing and what they need to instead,” Lebedevitch says. “They have scapegoats for why they hit bad shots, but don’t know the reason why and don’t know what to work on to have any chance of getting better. The instructors here have a high level of experience working with people of all different levels of ability and skill sets, and an ability to adapt to the student in front of them.”
With full-time golf teachers on staff, the off -season provides an opportunity for real-time skill building. “Summertime can be really good because the courses aren’t that busy,” says Lebedevitch. “So the opportunity to get on course with your instructor is greater for transitioning what you’re working on to an on-course lesson.”
PGA WEST, 56-150 PGA Blvd., La Quinta. 760-564-7144; pgawestgolfacademy.com
Extraordinary Golf at The
Golf Club at Terra Lago
Fred Shoemaker’s Extraordinary Golf programs won’t return to Terra Lago until autumn (running November through April), but in the meantime you should check out his book of the same name to see if his teachings match your mindset for the game.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EXTRAORDINARY GOLF
Fred Shoemaker has a unique way of communicating to students through Extraordinary Golf.
The basic program offered to first-timers emphasizes mechanics and learning how to self-coach. More experienced players and teaching pros may be interested in Shoemaker’s “Extraordinary Coaching Program,” which digs deeper.
Teeing up in tandem? Look into the “Just For Couples” option.
The Barry Clayton
Golf Academy at
Westin Mission Hills
For another pairing of accommodations and swing study, check out the Barry Clayton Golf Academy at the Westin, where participants enjoy special room rates at the resort.
A multiple PGA Desert Chapter “Teacher of the Year” recipient, as voted on by his teaching peers, Clayton provides a range of instruction, from three-hour sessions to one- or three-day immersive programs.
Three-day students receive nine hours of instruction along with a 9-hole playing lesson each day.
Westin Mission Hills, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage. 760-328-4303; playmissionhills.com
Barry Clayton has been voted PGA Desert Chapter “Teacher of the Year” four times.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WESTIN MISSION HILLS GOLF CLUB
Marriott Golf Academy at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge
Marriott’s Shadow Ridge offers a public practice facility, complete with public range, private range, short game range, and multiple putting, chipping, and bunker spaces.
“First and foremost, we have a great facility to teach. I just don’t think anyone matches it,” says senior instructor Mike Ellis.
PHOTO BY STEVEN SALISBURY
Senior instructor Mike Ellis can help you navigate the sand traps.
At the academy, Ellis oversees a cache of lesson options, including two- and three-day golf intensives (summertime can provide a teacher-to-student ratio of two-to-one, while high season averages four-to-one).
“We have a lot of experience here and it shows,” says Ellis, now in his 36th year of teaching. “We try not to complicate things and try to keep it basic, fundamental teaching. We don’t have a system — we teach golf swings. Posture dictating swing plane, grip influencing the face of the golf club, alignment that influences the path of the club, and ball position that influences contact and direction.”
Currently through December, the academy offers a free lodging promotion, which includes three nights in an on-site one-bedroom villa for individuals enrolled in the three-day school and two nights for those enrolled for two days. Daily lunch and course access are also included, and the facility’s indoor studio offers salve during the summer sizzle.
Marriott’s Shadow Ridge, 9002 Shadow Ridge Road, Palm Desert. 760-674-2700; marriottgolfacademy.com
Palm Desert Golf Academy at Desert Willow Golf Resort
Director of instruction Paul Bucy makes excellent use of Desert Willow’s facility, which features a host of learning opportunities for all levels. Highlights include two-day golf schools (which may be extended) that focus on all facets of the game, including video and equipment analysis and daily play on either Desert Willow’s Firecliff or Mountain View Courses.
The Academy’s two-to-one teacher-to-student ratio ensures personal attention.
Palm Desert Golf Academy, 38-500 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. 760-340-4057; palmdesertgolfacademy.com
Desert Willow Golf Resort, 38-995 Desert Willow Drive, Palm Desert. 760-346-0015; desertwillow.com
PHOTO COURTESY OF PALM DESERT GOLF ACADEMY
The Palm Desert Golf Academy at Desert Willow provides one of the premier public practice facilities.