Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

Jim McLean Golf School Makes a Great Gift
By Kelly Hill

A year ago, Chris Visner of Grand Rapids gave her husband, Russ, a new set of golf clubs. For his latest birthday, she gave him a chance to learn how to use them.

Last summer, Visner gave her husband, herself and their teenage son, Brett, a three-day enrollment in the Jim McLean Golf School at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme. The Visners attended a Saturday, Sunday and Monday session at Grand Traverse, and while McLean personally offered his expertise on occasion, their primary instructor was Penn State University graduate Jason Jenkins. Each day began with four or five hours of instruction, followed by lunch and then 18 holes of golf on the Spruce Run or The Wolverine courses at the resort. Jenkins accompanied the Visner trio on their afternoon rounds, offering additional instruction and course management tips.

"The thing that was so fascinating was the methodology they used," Russ Visner said. "They ask you all about your background and then they critique where your game is when you start. They get a good idea of where you are so they can establish the key elements to work on."

Members of Cascade Hills Country Club in Grand Rapids, the Visners had played sparingly the past few years. "The teaching staff at Cascade Hills is excellent," said Russ. Like many busy people, we were guilty of not investing enough time into our game. Ideally, combining instruction there with a golf school is a sure-fire way to improve one's game," said Russ.

Their first four-hour lesson, on Saturday, consisted of putting and chipping on the practice green. "We started with the short game and built from there over the three days," Russ said. "We learned control of the clubhead and then brought that up to the full swing." Chris Visner noticed immediate improvement in her short game. "We were chipping so close to the pin that it was unbelievable," she said.

Sunday's four-hour morning lesson included work on their tee shots, while Monday's morning instruction, a five-hour session, covered numerous aspects of the game. "We worked on bunker shots and more on the full swing," Russ said, "but we really worked on the short game every day. This definitely will take strokes off our game."

Russ Visner was a 21-handicap prior to attending the Jim McLean Golf School. Chris played fewer than 10 times during the 1999 season prior to attending the school.

"We had the best time together," Chris said. "We were all at different levels of play, but we were all learning the same game."

During one afternoon round on The Wolverine, which was designed by Gary Player, Chris Visner recorded three pars and the first birdie of her golfing life. "Since then, I have never hit the ball so consistently," Russ said. "It has taken at least five strokes off my game."

"For me," Chris said, "it has probably taken at least 10 strokes off. It's phenomenal."

The Visners learned a variety of swing drills that they have continued to use on the practice range. "When you are chipping or pitching, you have to control your follow through," Russ said. "The big thing when you strike the ball, is to not have a big follow through, but strike the ball and hold." "When you do that," Chris added, "you are able to control where the ball is going. For the first time, I am practicing at Cascade. I'm looking forward to the coming golf season."

Jenkins endeared himself to the Visners with his knowledgeable but relaxed teaching style."Jason was such a fabulous explainer," Chris said. "He explained exactly why we did everything we did. He is a fabulous teacher." The Visners expect to make a return visit to the Jim McLean Golf School, and they plan to take a few friends with them. "The facility there is terrific too. We are definitely going to go back," Chris said.

"The friendliness of the whole resort was great too," said Russ, who had not visited Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in more than a decade. "The people were incredibly friendly and I know I will enjoy the game of golf a lot more having done this."

For more information on the Jim McLean Golf School call 1-800-723-6725.

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