Sultans of Swing: Architecture of the Swing

  • Mike Nolan

Judged on its name alone, Nemacolin Woodlands’ John Daly Learning Center might conjure up images of students wielding oversize drivers and crushing golf balls to all points in Pennsylvania. But a few minutes spent analyzing ball departure angles on the launch machine with Dennis Clark, the Farmington resort’s director of golf, quickly rids even the freest of swingers of such notions.

A PGA Master Professional with an Advanced Specialty Certification, Clark approaches the game with a measured, deliberate manner more reminiscent of a Jack Nicklaus putt than a John Daly drive. Clark hosts and produces cable television shows and golf instruction videos, and he applies his production experience and equipment to his sessions at the John Daly Learning Center (which is named after the resort owner’s longtime friend). Each of the center’s four climate-controlled hitting bays includes a V1 swing-analysis video system that, among other features, enables side-by-side comparisons between the student and PGA pros (or between the student before his morning of instruction and the new-and-improved student at the end of the session). A launch machine measures ball speed, horizontal rotation, and other factors that may help explain a golfer’s debilitating hook or slice.
 
In addition to heat lamps in the hitting bays, the 3,000-square-foot center ameliorates inclement weather with indoor putting and short-game areas, but on pleasant Pennsylvania mornings, Clark’s program includes an hour or two at the nearby driving range. There, golfers hit to seven full-size greens before heading out to Nemacolin’s Mystic Rock, a Pete Dye–designed course that hosts the PGA Tour’s annual 84 Lumber Classic. Behind the course’s 18th green is Falling Rock, the resort’s new Frank Lloyd Wright–style hotel that is, much like a superior golf swing, a masterpiece of angles, precision, and restraint.

John Daly Learning Center

location: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa, Farmington, Pa.
 
Instructor: PGA Master Professional Dennis Clark, who holds one
of only 52 Advanced Specialty Certifications in the United States.

Format: The Learning Center offers short- and long-game
sessions every morning and afternoon, and is launching a full-day school this spring. The student-teacher ratio never exceeds three to one for any of the school’s classes.
 
Rates: $250 per session.

Accommodations: The resort includes three strikingly dissimilar hotels: the stately Chateau LaFayette (modeled after the Ritz in Paris), the Lodge (a rustic mountain inn), and the new Falling Rock, a Frank Lloyd Wright–style structure with the golfing world’s most imaginatively designed locker room.
 
Contact: 800.422.2736, www.nemacolin.com

Photo by Jim Fets
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