Of Course, We'll Golf, Amelia
by Mark Glass
Mark Glass is a journalist trapped in a lawyer's body, balancing his
writing and broadcasting on travel, entertainment and professional sports.
Before any well-meaning readers rush off to inform my bride I’m playing a round with another woman, let’s establish that this Amelia is an island at the northernmost point of Florida’s Atlantic coast, just outside of Jacksonville. She is a beauty, with a type of regal lineage - named for the daughter of an English king, back when their power over us came from the throne, rather than the exportation of rock bands and TV sitcom concepts. So Amelia poses no threat to my marital bliss, unless this recent visit turns the Missus into a golf widow.
Two things I
expected to remain part of my past were school and golf. The former had been
largely tedious; the latter, mostly frustrating. So how was I to know
this island beauty would lure me back into both in one weekend? An innocent
visit to the Amelia Island Plantation, now threatens my mental health. I
knew they had three highly-regarded golf courses; I’d even played one of
them about five years ago - my last venture onto the links. What I didn’t
know is that Ron Philo’s School of Golf could start me back on the path of
believing I could “improve my game”. Therein lies the sandless trap.
thought this visit to Amelia would be different. I would just enjoy the
Plantation’s splendid beachfront accommodations, harmoniously blending
with the natural beauty of live oaks and other vegetation which all but
obscure the scattered assortment of luxurious villas, suites and conference
facilities. The plan called for strolling their three miles of pristine
sand, enjoying the incessant pounding of waves; emulating Burt Lancaster’s
sojourn from , among their 23 pools; having some fine
meals; and mainly finding a brief, albeit welcome, respite from an
atypically cold Midwest winter. Perhaps I’d venture to the charming little
village of Fernandina Beach at the north end of the island for a bit of
window-shopping. But, nooo! I had to sign up for a lesson with the
well-meaning parents introduced me to the game, as others inflict piano or
dance lessons on their offspring, as a means of developing valuable skills
for adulthood. Dad and I achieved a state of supreme mediocrity. Mom
won a bunch of trophies with her maddeningly consistent play - a quality
that eluded the males in our family. I’d been content to let it go at
that, declaring adult rights of autonomy by switching to tennis. My
rationale was its superior aerobic value, and lesser consumption of valuable
time. The real reason, I must confess, is the recovery time from each errant
shot. After pounding one into the net, you’re ready for the next one in a
matter of seconds, rather than trudging into the woods for seemingly endless
minutes of search-and rescue.
I had been
briefly re-seduced by the allure of scramble tournaments. This is
golf-lite, allowing you to walk away from those recurring duffs, shanks and
other klunkers, unless the other three in your team fared even worse. And
most such social occasions include omnipresent beverage carts.
On my last
visit, Amelia Island Plantation’s Oceanside Links course did provide my
favorite golf anecdote. I tell others how I finished four-over, the last
time I played 18. After a pause to collect their admiration, I confess that
it wasn’t four over par; playing in the early morning at low tide allowed
me a net gain of finding four more balls on the course than I lost that day.
the golf school on this trip, I knew instantly that something would be
different. Ron, Sr. had raised Jr. to split his time between the pro tour
and teaching. His daughter, Laura Diaz, is thriving on the Circuit; her
husband also teaches in the family biz. They must know something that
my folks, and the various pros they enlisted to guide my early efforts, were
Without belaboring the details,
the edge they offer is starting with the logic of the swing, rather than its
artistic or athletic aspects. I’d always understood the selection of the
club for the distance and lie of the shot. I never had anyone tell me how
the club also sets the stage for foot and hand position. Once you know where
it goes, your body just has to follow along, so the club can do its job.
has changed golf instruction since the days of my adolescent flailings.
Video is valuable for instant feedback on your swing, albeit less so on
one’s aging bodily contours. Ron, Jr., calmly provided constructive
pointers on the screen (regarding my swing, not my growing waistline), using
his telestrator with precision in drawing lines of the club’s
path, in relation to the ideal. If only John Madden could learn the same
restraint in his NFL post-play analysis scribblings.
use other devices, like sets of stakes surrounding the student to set
parameters for the backswing and follow-through. Or a double bar like a shoe
rack with holes at each end for lining putts to learn head position, as well
as a straight stroke. But they also employ also low-tech, common sense
tools. Ron, Jr., had me stand with my butt against the wall so my backswing
would go up, rather than wrap around my shoulders and scuff the siding.
offer instruction to every skill level, with a variety of packages and
individual formats, available through the Resort, or separately. All clinics
guarantee a student-teacher ratio of no more than 3-1. For further
information on the Golf School, check www.4bettergolf.com. For information
on Amelia Island Plantation, 1-800-874-6878, or http://www.aipfl.com.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Glass)
Mark Glass is a
Mark Glass is a freelance writer and broadcaster, based in St. Louis, covering travel, entertainment and professional sports for his readers
and listeners. Mark was travel editor for "St. Louis Connoisseur", and
now have that role for "Life in the Midwest", based in Indianapolis.
For the last fifteen years, he's written and broadcast features on
travel, entertainment and sports, while maintaining his law practice in the St. Louis
area. (More about this writer.)