With Masters week looming and spring golf teeing off all over the country, golfers near and far might be looking to fine tune their game and couple that with a stay at one of the premier resort and spas in the country. Does that sound good to you?
It should, as a new golf school, The Harvey Penick Academy begins its first year in picturesque Texas at the Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa. Longtime golf instructor, Jim Hopkins, is leading the charge at Lost Pines and he’s already making waves and improving golf swings while honoring one of the great instructors in the history of golf.
“Harvey was just as much my mentor as he was to the thousands of students he personally taught. His dream was simple: to foster his students’ enjoyment of the game,” said Jim Hopkins, director of instruction and a founding staff member of the academy. “That’s what we’ll be doing at Wolfdancer.”
Spend a few minutes with Jim and his passion for golf and its history comes through like the sun breaking among the clouds on a Texas morning. The Academy will use the award-winning Wolfdancer course, driving range and short-game practice area for instruction and play. Hopkins thinks this is what makes Wolfdancer a perfect fit for the academy and its mission.
“Many schools try to force a lot of method on people, but Harvey’s goal was to increase players’ love of the game and help them refine the swing they came with,” explains Kelly O’Donnell, director of golf at Wolfdancer. “We believe in Harvey’s philosophy, and we are excited to be the place where his legacy lives on and inspires new students. Jim is the perfect person to pass along Harvey’s teachings and philosophy.”
Wolfdancer and Hyatt Lost Pines are in close proximity to downtown Austin and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. For years, Wolfdancer and the wilderness-themed Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa have been a favorite haunt for Texans, but the word is now getting out around the country about this unique part of Texas. Academy students will not only spend time on the course and the practice facilities, students can stay for a single day and night, weekend or additional days at the beautiful Hyatt Lost Pines. This is a chance to experience nature and golf all in one place.
When thinking about Harvey Penick, thoughts turn to his values and teaching method as a no-frills production where students start with the basics. Penick coached World Golf Hall of Fame players likeTom Kite, Ben Crenshaw and Betsy Rawls during his illustrious career. The Harvey Penick Academy started in 1993, just two years before Penick’s passing. Many golfers don’t know that the academy’s original home was Golfsmith, where it served more than 20,000 students in its first 16 years. It moved to Falconhead Golf Club in 2009 and now to Wolfdancer in 2016.
Spending time with Hopkins on the range and practice putting green, it’s apparent the Penick style is in play at Wolfdancer. Hopkins was patient and practical and he worked through the kinks in the student’s swing. Teaching professionals, David Kuhlman and Woody Arnold work alongside Hopkins. Hopkins is a firm believer in small classes and even the Friday to Sunday clinic will contain just 10-12 students. Students will receive a book and a manual to take home with them after the school sessions end. A nice touch and all part of the Hyatt Lost Pines and Wolfdancer experience.
As Harvey said in his Little Red Book, “Lessons are not to take the place of practice, but to make practice worthwhile.”
Hopkins and his staff at The Harvey Penick Academy in Texas stress that practice is the key to becoming a better golfer and you might as well have some fun in the process. Book your clinic by going here or call 512-547-8106.