Sultans of Swing: Bird Watching

  • Bruce Wallin

Glenn Deck, director of the Pelican Hill Golf Academy in Newport Coast, Calif., pauses on the 5th fairway of the club’s Tom Fazio–designed North Course. “Most people talk about the 17th hole,” says Deck, looking down toward the par-4’s green and the beachside community behind it. “But I prefer this one. Just look at those views.” And that is precisely what he wants you to do.

Deck believes that golfers enjoy themselves—and play better—when they focus more on his home courses’ coastal scenery and less on their swings. He therefore encourages his students to isolate a single aspect of their games and block out everything else but the views. “Your brain can only concentrate on one thing at a time,” says Deck. “When you have one swing thought, it frees you up to become an athlete.”

Even on the driving range, Deck instructs his students to work through problem areas one issue at a time. He also promotes practicing on the range as you would play on the course—switching clubs frequently, limiting your number of swings, and going through your entire setup routine before each shot.
 
Deck’s two-day clinics take place at Pelican Hill’s ocean-facing practice range, which includes a private chipping area, bunker, putting green, and videotaping facility. Classes conclude with the director or a member of his staff guiding you through the program’s most trying task: taking what you learned on the range and applying it to a round on the North or South course. But as long as you keep your mind clear—and your eyes on the Pacific Ocean—you are a success by the standards of your instructor. “The number one goal,” says Deck, “is for you never to leave more confused than when you got here.”

Pelican Hill Golf Academy

Location: Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, Calif.

Instructor: Director of Instruction Glenn Deck has been named one of the Top 100 Teachers for 2003–2004 and 2005–2006 by Golf magazine.
 
Format: The VIP Clinic consists of two days of putts, chips, full swings, bunker shots, and video analysis at the academy’s Pacific View Tee practice facility. The program concludes with an 18-hole round with your instructor on one of Pelican Hill’s two Tom Fazio courses.
 
Rates: $1,295 for the VIP Clinic; $150 per hour for private lessons with Deck.

Accommodations: Pelican Hill does not have a hotel. Academy attendees can stay at the nearby Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach (949.759.0808, www.fourseasons.com/newportbeach), which, in a partnership with the golf course, manages Pelican Hill’s clubhouse and Grill restaurant.
 
Contact: 949.759.5102, www.pelicanhill.com

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