You meet the nicest people at golf schools

Journal Entry #6
Monday, 6/2/2003
by: John K. Darling

One of the keys to fast food restaurant success is friendliness. If the order taker is not hospitable and helpful you just don't go back. This holds true with golf course personnel as well. However, I would say golf shop personnel take the prize for consistent good and friendly behavior.

Let me go back once more to my experience when I attended a golf school in California. Following my total hip replacement I took my surgeon's word that I could get back to golf in three months. So, why not start over with a golf school? I had never been to one, and they all looked very expensive. I don't know where I found out about the school. Maybe it was in GolfDigest, maybe on the Internet, or perhaps a junk mail brochure. Anyway, the golf school had to be in the Palm Springs area, since my wife, a high school math teacher, and I always go out to visit her parents in Rancho Mirage, California during Spring Break.

I called the Golf School at the Weston Mission Hills Resort and ended up talking to the school director of instruction, Barry Clayton. I explained my situation and he assured me that his staff would take into consideration my condition and make adjustments as needed to insure an enjoyable and beneficial learning experience. The number of students in the class would vary depending on how many signed up. I offered to pay in advance, but Barry said that was not necessary. That alone was refreshing to hear.

Two weeks before my class I drove from Colorado Springs to Granbury, Texas, a little golf Mecca in itself, for my two teenage granddaughters' baptisms. The week before that I drove to Denver to pick up my oldest son and took him to Keystone for a medical convention and then drove back to Colorado Springs. A few days before the class I drove to Rancho Mirage. That's over 3,000 miles, three trips in less than a month. That's not good conditioning for a hip on the mend. I could hardly walk by the time we finally got to California.

When I arrived, I called and asked if I could go day-by-day rather than committing to the full three days. Barry said that would be just fine and that they would not hold my nose to the grind stone for the price of the full package. Now, wasn't that nice? Senior friendly for sure.

The next nice guy I met was my teaching golf professional, Bobby Steiner. He was a young man of 33 who had been a professional for about nine years. He also held the number two position in the United States in Karate only a few years ago. Bobby writes a golf instruction column for the Desert Sun newspaper as well. He'll have a book coming out next summer that is golf instruction with a very unusual bent. The proposed name of the book is "Golf, Heart and Soul." The second day of my golf school he gave me a copy of the manuscript and it is really something. He learned on a black golf course in North Carolina from Afro-American scratch, or better, golfers. I'll be reviewing his book as soon as it comes out, and you'll really enjoy it. I promise it will improve your game.

Bobby encouraged me to start up when he learned I was interested in writing columns about golf that would appeal to senior golfers. Thanks Bobby, I'm off and running with Bobby says lots of people want to write, but they just never get on with it.

The two other members of my three-man class were super gentlemen as well. Ben Harris was a giant of a man with a pleasant smile and snow-white hair who has survived melanoma cancer. He is a retired general contractor from the Los Angeles area. My other classmate was Jim Erkenback who had just retired from coaching the offensive line and defensive ends of the Oakland Raiders. He has coached in the past at Kansas City and Dallas too. Unfortunately the evening after his first day's class he slipped in a bathtub and broke a rib. He told me that rib injuries are not a "no practice" or play injury in professional football. He also told me that he was going to get in touch with every player he ever made practice or play with a rib injury and apologize, since now he knows rib injuries are one of the most painful of any to be experienced in the sport.

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