Golf academies teach the art of business along with technique.

Golf academies increasingly are addressing the needs of corporate groups with a variety of programs, ranging from networking and teambuilding to attitude enhancement and clinics.

“The golf school is an excellent venue to alleviate stress from meetings and business concerns, and it helps develop camaraderie among the participants,” said Brenda Pfeifer, sales manager for the Grand Cypress Academy of Golf at the Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando.

One of Grand Cypress’ programs is a recently introduced Golfer-Caddie Team Building Program. The program focuses on transferable applications to the business world such as accountability, anticipating needs, attentiveness, active listening and emphasizing the positive. Following a morning clinic with a golf-swing instruction lesson and a detailed presentation on the caddie’s art of service, participants head to the golf course for a structured 18-hole golf outing. Each golfer spends three holes caddying for another golfer.

“During the caddie portion of the round, the underlying message is that what is impossible for the individual is attainable with a coordinated team effort,” said the program’s facilitator, Martin Carroll. “The program is a great way to combine golf and teambuilding.”

“What a great package — it’s new, unique and just what we needed,” said Dennis Smith, vice president of human resources for Signature Flight Support, an Orlando-based company that operates gas stations that service corporate jets at 44 locations in the U.S.

Behavior modification is also the theme and goal for a new program at the Academy of Golf at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Mastering the Essentials of Champions is designed to teach business executives how PGA and LPGA touring pros train, think and behave like champions. Customized for private groups, the two-and-a-half-day program focuses on learning how champion golfers use performance principles to attain success, and how those principles can be used to improve the golf game and off-the-course business.

Among the issues addressed in the curriculum is a review of the essentials of champions in business, character-of-a-champion evaluation, nutritional analysis, fitness evaluation, mental toughness assessment and on-course strategy training.

For golfers who have no visions of golf championships in their futures and just want to learn how to hit a golf ball straight, academies are increasingly putting emphasis on helping bewildered beginners as well.

For intimidated novice golfers, Grand Cypress Academy uses its three practice holes, a regulation-length par three, par four and par five. In fact, the golf academy practice-hole concept is growing in popularity, especially among corporate groups that typically have a sizeable number of novice or infrequent golfers.

In April, Westin Turnberry Resort on Scotland’s Ayrshire coast introduced its new nine-hole Arran Academy course at the Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy. A mixture of par fours and threes, the course encompasses the features of a true links course, such as undulating greens, tight tee shots, pot bunkers and thick rough.

“The Arran allows for on-course clinics and more relaxed golf outings and fun tournaments in a less intimidating setting,” said Jennifer Keay, Westin Tumberry’s events manager. “We have learned that people who are intimidated by golf won’t participate. The academy practice course concept really helps bridge that gap.”

Further enhancing the appeal of golf academies are facilities designed especially for groups. The PGA Tour Golf Academy at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., features several meeting rooms and a hospitality room at its 2,700-square-foot learning center overlooking the World Golf Hall of Fame.

“We live in an age of specialization and customization, and different groups have different goals,” said Scott Sackett, the academy’s director of instruction and a Golf Magazine Top-100 Teacher. “Our list of programs for groups goes well beyond the standard group clinic with an instructor. Our goal is to make the experience rewarding for both the scratch golfer and the novice.”

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