Golf is another story. The precision and skill it takes to shoot anywhere near par isn’t something most people can pick up overnight. According to Jerry Breaux, the head PGA professional at BanBury Golf Course in Eagle, getting instruction from experienced professionals is the best—and perhaps only—way for new golfers to learn how to play the game properly.
“Swinging a golf club is not a very natural thing,” Breaux says. “I think instruction is key because you can’t get better by just practicing. In order to get comfortable with what the club is supposed to do during the swing, you need to be shown how to practice properly.”
Better to get an early start . . . and here in Idaho, there are plenty of places to learn how to golf if you’re still a junior. Golf camps and lessons for adults are harder to find, but they are out there. Most courses provide private lessons and a few offer formal training specifically designed for adult beginners. Here are some of the best places to learn the basics:
BanBury Golf Course • Eagle
When: BanBury offers private instruction and group lessons year-round.
Cost: Varies. Contact BanBury Golf Course at 208.939.3600 for details.
Target audience: BanBury offers instruction for golfers of all ages and ability levels. Group and individual lessons are customized to meet each player’s needs.
BanBury offers several forms of golf instruction for adults. The most intensive is the personal mentoring program, which pairs each student with an instructor for an hour-long lesson once a week. The mentoring program costs $1,200 per person, per year. Students may choose a six-month, eight-month or 12-month program. All three cost the same.
“The mentoring program is great because it covers whatever you need,” says Jonathan Gibbs, director of instruction at BanBury. “It allows us to set goals and work on those goals based on the needs of the individual.”
This spring, BanBury held a 12-week player improvement program for adults. During the program, which runs from March through May, students will receive a customized practice routine, attend monthly lessons in a small group and go out on the course twice per month in their groups, accompanied by a professional instructor. The cost of the program is $270.
BanBury also offers private group and individual lessons as well as women’s evening clinics—small group lessons conducted especially for women. The women’s clinics, which are held at least four times per year, offer five weekly lessons for $160.
“We’ll do just about anything as long as people want to do it,” Gibbs said. “If people are interested in a specific type of instruction, we’ll try our best to make it work.”
Players who participate in mentoring programs at BanBury get an added perk: access to the new Legacy Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy in Eagle. The three-hole golf course and academy is otherwise closed to the public and reserved for Legacy residents.
Warm Springs Golf Camp • Boise
When: The three-day camp runs from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from mid-April to early October.
Cost: $66 for each three-day camp session. For more information or to sign up, contact Warm Springs Golf Course at 208.343.5661.
Target audience: The camp is meant for adults of all ages and ability levels (including those who have never played golf before) who want to learn more about the game and improve their swing.
Warm Springs Golf Camp, much like the Boise municipal course’s 18-hole layout, is designed to provide affordable recreation and golf instruction to the public. With camps offered seven months out of the year, Warm Springs is a convenient way for new players to learn the basics and more experienced players to fine tune their swings.
“Our camp is a great place for people to learn more about the game so they can feel comfortable out on the golf course,” said Scott McGeachin, director of golf at Warm Springs. “It’s really for anyone who wants to tune up their golf game because we cover every aspect of it.”
The camp, which is offered Tuesday through Thursday evenings from April to October, is broken down into three 1½ hour lessons, each of which has a specific area of focus. Tuesday’s lesson focuses on proper equipment and the fundamentals of the swing. Wednesday’s lesson targets the short game as students practice putting, chipping and sand play. The first part of Thursday’s lesson focuses on the full swing and hitting the driver. Afterward, students are taken out on the course to play a few holes and learn about proper etiquette, rules of play and the use of carts.
Camp sessions are taught primarily by McGeachin, who has taught golf for 19 years. Camps are also taught by PGA professional Peter Nichenko, a former Boise State golfer.
According to McGeachin, the average class consists of six to eight golfers. If a particular class has more participants, Warm Springs will add extra instructors.
“We want students to get plenty of time with the instructor so we can answer any questions they might have,” McGeachin said. “And a lot of times, you’ll see people learning from other members of the group as well.”
Clubs, balls and other equipment are provided for all students who sign up for the camp, though the staff recommends bringing your own clubs if you have them. Also, the three-day lesson format remains the same all season, so players who miss a day can make it up the next week free of charge.
“We want it to be flexible so people can enjoy it,” McGeachin said. “This camp is really about introducing people to golf and teaching them all the little things they can do to manage their game and be successful.”
Twin Falls Municipal offers several affordable methods of instruction for adults. Every Thursday in April, the course holds a free women’s clinic. The course also holds a two-day men’s clinic, which typically is held on summer weekends beginning in late April or early May. Participants are instructed by PGA professionals Mike Hamblin and John Weekes.
Twin Falls Municipal Golf Course
When: Twin Falls offers group and private lessons year-round and adult clinics during the late spring and summer months.
Cost: Varies. Contact Twin Falls Municipal at 208.733.3326 for details.
Target audience: Twin Falls Municipal offers lessons for players of all ability levels. Clinics can help any player improve, but they are especially beneficial for beginners.
Women’s clinics are offered starting in April. Junior camps will be held in June and July as three-day camps for $50 per camp.
“I think the only way to get better at golf is to have constant feedback from an instructor,” says Hamblin, who serves as the course’s general manager and director of golf relations. “Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the world, but if you watch him play in tournaments, he always has his instructor with him.”
Twin Falls Municipal also offers private lessons at the rate of $60 an hour. Students can purchase three one-hour lessons for $150 or six for $250. Hamblin also offers lessons for groups of up to five people, which he says are always available and price-negotiable.
“We’re always willing to work with people,” Hamblin says. “If I take a group of five out on the course, it’s not going to cost each person the full $60. We want people to have fun and get their money’s worth.”
In addition to clinics and lessons, Twin Falls Municipal offers a wide-open 18-hole course that serves as an ideal practice spot for beginners. Specific dates of clinics and other special events are posted on the City of Twin Falls Web site: www.tfid.org.
Photography Warm Springs Golf Camp
Text Jordan Rodriguez