Meet the “Mount Rushmore” of the Pinehurst Golf Academy
Photos by John Gessner
BY LEE PACE
They have stood on the practice tee collectively for more than a century, through the winds of March and searing sun of July. They’ve seen laid-off club shafts, banana balls, weak grips, strong grips, hunched-over postures, flying elbows and lateral slides. The engineers who’ve come to them for help with their golf swing want a tip delivered on a slide rule, the artists prefer a catch phrase in rhyme.
Their minds are like encyclopedias of golf instruction theory and drills. Their patience extends to the moon and back, their good humor worthy of an ice cream truck. Each has an amateur degree in psychology—how else to climb inside the brains of thousands of golfers over the years and figure out what makes them click?
Through it all, the Pinehurst Golf Academy staff of Eric Alpenfels, Paul McRae, Kelly Mitchum and Geoff Lynch have been Pinehurst’s Mount Rushmore—four instructors averaging 25 years on staff and giving the Academy the consistency and ballast to grow and thrive in a golf economy that’s weathered three recessions since 1990 and seen the gradual slide of the golf school business since the 2008-09 financial crisis.
“Our school has continued to grow while golf schools in general are passé,” says Don Padgett II, the Pinehurst president and COO from 2004-2014. “Their experience, their consistent delivery, the personal attention—these guys are the model to buck the trend. We get a lot of repeat business. We’ve got guys who’ve been coming for 20 years.” … Continue Reading