Golfers Hit Books, But For What?

Teaching Schools Are Making Grade Here

June 02, 1991|By Ed McDonough | Ed McDonough,Staff writer

If golf schools are the sport's latest rage, as some claim, then Carroll is poised on the cutting edge of the trend.

Two schools have taken up residence at existing facilities in recent months, both hoping to capitalize on the nationwide growth of such ventures and the lack of existing programs in the Baltimore-Washington area.

"The half-hour golf lesson is a thing of the past," said Bill Madonna, whose Pro Motion School of Golf is headquartered at Wakefield Valley Golf Club in Westminster.

Both the Pro Motion school and On Target Golf at Liberty Golf Park in Eldersburg stress one- to three-day golf schools, outings where all aspects of a player's game are analyzed, often using sophisticated teaching devices, video equipment and computers.

One such device used by Dan Loucks, director of instruction at On Target, is the Perfect Swing Trainer, an oval-shaped piece of equipment that helps students develop the correct swing.

Madonna said the school concept is a way for players to devote a day, orseveral days, to the study of golf, with sophisticated swing analysis, putting tips, individual drills and other steps. In addition to the three-day schools, Madonna offers half-day courses for beginners and experienced golfers, with diagnostic programs for more advanced players.

"Golf schools have become very big," said Bill Horney, the director of golf at Wakefield who brought Madonna on board. "He has 21years of teaching experience, and he's going to work closely with myother assistant professionals. I was very lucky to get him."

Madonna started as a professional at the Sunset Golf Club near Harrisburg, Pa., in 1969, but quickly discovered he preferred teaching to scheduling tournaments and running the pro shop -- typical duties for a club professional.

By 1976, he moved to Florida and started Pro Motion, the third school of its type in the state and the first on the gulf coast. Fourteen years and an estimated 40,000 lessons later, the Class A member of the Professional Golfers Association of America moved to Wakefield.

Loucks' career has not been as extensive, but he has been teaching for 15 years, primarily at clubs in Florida and North Carolina. He came to Liberty earlier this year, shortly after U.S. Golf Properties became the park's third owner in its three-year history.

The 90-slot driving range (with several heated tees for winterpractice), pitching area, sand trap, practice green and indoor facility have become home to On Target, which offers clinics, group programs, junior classes, private lessons and one- to three-day schools.

Loucks, also a Class A PGA pro and one-time Vermont Open champ, saidseveral weeks ago that U.S. Golf Properties primarily owns golf courses, but saw the Liberty facility as an excellent way to tap into theteaching market in the Baltimore area.

Loucks is assisted by Steve Jones, a pro and manager of the complex (which includes batting cages, an arcade and miniature golf), and Devin McNitt, an assistant pro.

Golf instruction can cost as much as $175 for the one-day schoolat Pro Motion. Other lessons are considerably cheaper, and Madonna says the costs are competitive with those for the traditional half-hour lessons from club professionals -- but with better results.

For information on On Target, call 795-1111 or 848-4645. To find out moreabout Pro Motion, call 876-6662.

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