By STEVE HANF
Davis Troxler developed a reputation for going overtime with his lessons at Precision Golf School.
“I talk a lot,” Troxler said with a laugh. “We have a lot of fun. You hear us laugh all the time, but that doesn’t mean we don’t take it serious.”
Troxler’s sessions with area golfers aren’t getting any shorter. His new North Carolina Golf Academy is taking the idea of private lessons to a whole new level thanks to a personalized approach and specialists who can assist with everything from club fitting to the biomechanics of the swing.
“The personal touch; we want you to come take lessons with us,” Troxler said. “Other places it was almost like it was the students’ privilege to come to us. It’s our honor and privilege to teach you, and you’ll feel that every time you take a lesson.”
The instructors at the N.C. Golf Academy aren’t just focused on the golf swing. The team includes Kelly York, one of the Triad’s best-known club-fitters, and Lori Gordon, a Nike Golf performance specialist who studies and improves students’ swings through fitness.
“I think it’s just going to be the whole package,” Troxler said. “Everything with golf, we want to show you what to do.”
Golfers can work with Academy instructors at Deep River Driving Range in High Point, Jamestown Park Golf Course, Crooked Tree Golf Course in Browns Summit and Kelly’s Golf in Greensboro. Troxler and Jamestown pro Michael Hutcheon serve as lead instructors, while Jeff Crittenden is the Academy’s director of instruction.
Troxler and Crittenden worked together at Robert Linville’s Precision Golf School when they started thinking about developing their own teaching school. The dream came true Feb. 1.
“We’ve been very lucky to have all the pieces fall together like they have,” Troxler said. “I didn’t want to go into competition against Precision Golf because to me that’s the cream of the crop. But I had some ideas of what I wanted to put in and I’ve been very lucky with the people who have come on board.”
In Crittenden, the Academy offers a legendary long hitter with plenty of experience helping others get the most out of their game.
“He hits the ball as far as any human I’ve ever seen,” Troxler said. “It’s a running joke that he can hit the Chop House (across Highway 68 from Deep River’s range) with a driver.”
Crittenden and Hutcheon are PGA pros. Troxler is a PGA apprentice working toward regaining his PGA status. Steve Johnson is a senior instructor with a wealth of college coaching experience on his resume, and Heather Angell is another of the Academy’s senior instructors. She plays professional golf and is a former member of the LPGA Futures Tour.
“A lot of people really like what we’re trying to do, so they’re coming to us wanting to help us teach,” Troxler said. “It’s not rare that I’m teaching someone and I’ll call in Steve or Jeff, and for 15-20 minutes there’s two of us teaching. It’s almost like you sign up to take a lesson with everybody. We all want to see you succeed.”
They’re willing to go above and beyond to ensure it happens. Troxler said he’ll often share a meal with golfers so they can talk shop and also get to know one another better. And many of the Academy’s juniors have been surprised to see their instructors show up at a tournament to offer support. Some 40 juniors already have signed up for the monthly lesson package offered by the Academy.
“We promote fun. You have to make it exciting. A lot of people, when they go take lessons they’re nervous, or it’s boring, and they’re not going to come back,” Troxler said. “We’re growing by leaps and bounds. We’ve far exceeded the goals I’ve set out for the first year.”
The fun is just beginning. At Kelly’s Golf on Lawndale Drive in Greensboro, a new launch monitor is on the way to help golfers find out what sorts of adjustments can be made to their clubs for improved ball-striking. York is especially excited about the new building at Deep River, though. After years of having clients hitting off mats and into nets, he’ll be able to set up a satellite office offering a huge assortment of shafts and clubheads for testing on a range.
“Hand a person a club, a shaft flex and a loft and all that and say, ‘Have at it, let’s find out what it really does,’” York said. “Nothing replaces actually being able to see the ball fly. I’m not necessarily trying to sell new clubs as hoping to introduce more of a fitting aspect that would generate lower scores. You’re giving yourself a fighting chance.”
York started at Deep River in July in the early afternoon hours a few days a week and said the plan is to “see where it goes.” He’ll have some 275 different shaft and clubhead combinations and hopes to have a library of equipment built up for golfers ranging from the occasional player through those requiring PGA Tour-quality gear.
The N.C. Golf Academy and Kelly’s Golf are separate entities, but do work hand-in-hand.
“The key thing with Davis is he’s one of the most likeable individuals and he just keeps it simple,” York said. “That’s one of the things we golfers get lost in. You just need to have the basic fundamentals and practice.”
The other component after top-notch instruction and great-fitting gear is having a swing that feels right and produces the desired results. That’s where Gordon comes in. The Nike Golf performance specialist runs LG 360 on Church Street in Greensboro and knows more about the biomechanics of the golf swing than anyone, Troxler said.
“If you can’t physically get your body into a consistent position in golf, then you’re not going to play very well and it’s hard to take lessons from a pro if you can’t get there,” Gordon said.
Many golfers fail to realize that an old shoulder injury or knee injury can throw off the swing by compensating in other ways. Gordon goes through the sequence of the golf swing “joint by joint” and then has golfers work on corrective exercises to get the body moving properly through the entire swing.
“The bottom line is if they’re swinging better, they’re gonna play better, they’re gonna enjoy the game and have a lot fewer injuries,” Gordon said. “Most people I see are very motivated. Golfers love to play golf and they’re going to do their due diligence, whatever makes them feel better.”
Gordon has worked with clients from the mountains to the sea, but has greatly enjoyed her part in the N.C. Golf Academy lineup.
“How much this group cares about what they do is quite unique,” she said.
That level of commitment and enthusiasm is why Troxler doesn’t conduct interviews by himself. When someone applies to join the North Carolina Golf Academy team, they have to impress everyone.
“I want us to be a family, all be on the same page,” Troxler said. “It’s not like I own it – it’s everyone’s business. We all have a passion for golf. So far, the passion is showing.”