Find Your Swing

Never picked up a golf club before? Feel like it’s time to learn? Congratulations—you’re in the right place. Colorado is full of gorgeous, world-renowned courses (read: crazy difficult!), but our state is also home to a long roster of well-regarded instructors and plenty of options for playing while you’re still learning.

May 2011


Colorado golf pros who won’t go running for the 19th hole when a beginner signs up for a lesson. (They’re not bad for experts, either.)

Trent Wearner
Owner, Trent Wearner Golf Academy, Denver, 303-645-8000; trentwearnergolf.com
Overall Teaching Philosophy: An instructor should adapt to his student, not the other way around. Approaching a Beginner: I try to make sure that every beginner knows the setup items—good grip, proper stance, things like that. Once they have those things right, they can focus on the one thing they’re trying to learn that day. Most Difficult Thing for a Beginner to Understand: Many beginners think you have to hit up on the ball to get it airborne. That’s just not the case, but it’s a natural instinct. Sticking Point: Outdoor learning is really important. You can hit into a screen all day, but it’s never going to be the same as hitting out on a course. Best Parts of My Game: Short game, mental toughness Instructing Experience: 16 years Favorite Colorado Course: Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club

Jeanne Sutherland
Head Golf Pro, Vail Golf Club, Vail, 970-479-2260; vailrec.com/golf.cfm
Overall Teaching Philosophy: I allow individualism within a student. There’s not a model that everyone uses to golf. I allow motion at first, then help them tighten their game. Approaching a Beginner: I figure out why a new golfer is interested in the game—maybe they’re there because they want to be or because their spouse wants them to learn. Most Difficult Thing for a Beginner to Understand: Beginners are very focused on hitting the ball. Missing seems to signal failure. That makes it tough for them to understand that the swing is a full motion with a definite sequence. Their motion often begins and ends at the ball, so instead of a swing, it resembles a hit or chopping motion. Sticking Point: Do not try to learn this game from your spouse or your friend. Take lessons in a group. Instructing Experience: 26 years Favorite Colorado Courses: Vail Golf Club, Red Sky Ranch & Golf Club

Andrew Tucker
Director of Instruction, Lakewood Country Club, Lakewood, 303-549-0607; andrewtuckergolf.com
Overall Teaching Philosophy: I teach ball flight control. I can look at a ball in the air and recognize why the ball is doing what it’s doing. I look for patterns in a player and remedy bad patterns. Approaching a Beginner: I try to make my beginners understand that par is based on expert play. Par for beginners is way different than that. When I get this point across, it often lowers their anxiety. Most Difficult Thing for a Beginner to Understand: The best players in the world do not hit the ball straight. Sticking Point: I like to say “play golf, don’t play golf swing.” In the learning process, people get frustrated with the details. A bad day on the course should be better than a good day at work. Best Part of My Game: I’m not long, but I’m accurate. Instructing Experience: 24 years

Ann Finke
Director of Instruction, Country Club of Colorado, Colorado Springs, 719-538-4095; ccofcolorado.com
Approaching a Beginner: The biggest obstacle that beginners face is moving from instruction to the course. I offer evening clinics that allow me to take people on a walking tour and help them orient and understand the course. Most Difficult Thing for a Beginner to Understand: That people don’t care how well you play; they care that you know golf, understand etiquette, and play fast enough. Working with Women: Women don’t absorb golf like other sports. There’s not a lot of exposure. They don’t know the clubs or the lingo. There’s a fear of something new. I try to make it less intimidating. Sticking Point: Posture. If you don’t put your body in the right position, you’ll never hit the ball well. Best Parts of My Game: I’m the best putter I know. Instructing Experience: 32 years Favorite Colorado Courses: Country Club of Colorado, Castle Pines Golf Club Favorite Pro to Watch: Fred Couples

Ed Oldham
Head Golf Professional, The Ranch Country Club, Westminster, 303-466-2111; theranchcc.com
Approaching a Beginner: I use an organized approach for teaching the things that a student needs to learn first: grip, stance, and swinging motion. Most Difficult Thing for a Beginner to Understand: It takes about three years to learn the entire game of golf if you practice and play regularly. Sticking Point: Every golfer needs to understand that where the club face is at the point of impact is what’s important. You can have an ugly swing, but if your club face strikes the ball well, you’re golden. Instructing Experience: 29 years Favorite Colorado Courses: Riverdale Dunes, Cherry Hills, The Ranch Country Club Favorite Pros to Watch: Guys with ugly swings like Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, and Graeme McDowell. I’ll TiVo them and break their swings down in slow motion.

Stan Sayers
Director of Instruction, MetaGolf Learning Center, Englewood, 303-799-0870; mcgetrickgolf.com
Overall Teaching Philosophy: I want my students to have consistently good setups and posture. Approaching a Beginner: I ask a lot of questions, many about any other sports he may play. That way I can use language that makes sense to that person. Maybe I can talk about golf in terms of tennis, if that person already understands that sport. Most Difficult Thing for a Beginner to Understand: Why they can’t learn this sport by themselves. The reason is because golf is often counterintuitive. Someone has to help you figure those things out. Sticking Point: That learning or fixing a golf swing is a process. I can teach you something today, but you may not actually be able to execute it perfectly by the time we’re finished with the lesson. Instructing Experience: 28 years Favorite Colorado Courses: Castle Pines Golf Club, Country Club of the Rockies