They are our unsung heroes. Those great teching professionals who are our svengalis of swing, our crying towel after losses, our homestyle sports psychologists, and our hope for the future (and the future of our great game). This week we highlight three great course pros who are great teachers and great ambassadors. Sure, most of us can’t dial up Haney, Leadbetter, Phil, Vijay or Tiger…but these guys make sure we feel just as important as any touring professional. Three different guys, three different styles but one goal – you will play better.
VACO REGIONAL (VACO…that’s “Virginia-Carolinas” for those scoring at home…kinda like “DelMarVa” or “TriBeCa.” VACO ia also short for Virginia Coalition, a terrific rock band…)
ROYAL NEW KENT & STONEHOUSE
10100 Kentland Rd.
Providence Forge, VA
Andy is the “young lion” of this month’s crop. A prodigious golfer since his youth, Andy not only teaches seemingly double duty but, as head pro at TWO facilities of national significance, somehow deftly handles the double logistic nightmare that goes with keeping two great places running. Andy strengths as a teacher are his patience, and creativity. He has the unique ability to help a golfer keep both his head and his swing functional through the ups and downs in our collective playing careers.
SANDPINES GOLF CLUB
1201 35th Street
Do you prefer a pro who is an accomplished tournament player? Bob Rannow, a former Canadian touring professional routinely laps the field at his Northwest PGA tournaments. Known for shooting 65-66 and winning by 5 to 6 shot margins (or more) in two day events on murderous layouts (like Sun River – Crosswater Course), Bob then comes home to sleepy but scenic Florence to run the pastoral Sandpines facility. Bob has a Vijay Singh like work ethic (murderously long hours) but an Adam Scott friendliness. Always upbeat, always on the go and always helping players swings with a laser like precision, Bob is deservedly a bedrock foundation of Sandpines and the mainspring that drives their success. Bob’s strength as a teacher is his tenacity. He’ll try seven ways to Sunday to help a player of any level lower his scores. Bob not only “has all the shots” but can teach all the shots. His versatility as a player translates well to his pupils.
LINKS at HIAWATHA LANDING
2350 Marshland Road
If there were a Mr. Congeniality award given out to PGA teaching pros, Bernie would be tough to beat. One of the most affable gentlemen we have had the good fortune to meet, Bernie smiles through 7 inches of rain washing out his course, six months of white-out snow conditions and a murderous tournament schedule. Through it all Bernie teaches all players with a graiousness and patience that is the gold standard PGA pros should seek to emulate but has a special “extra gear” when it comes to women and kids. The first tee program has long been at its strongest here in the NY Southern Tier hinterlands. A finer ambassador of the game is tough to imagine.
“DelMarVa” = Delaware Maryland Virginia and
“TriBeCa” = Triangle Below Canal St.