World renown golf instructor, Rick Smith, who has taught Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and numerous other top world players, will open a new golf academy in Spring 2011 at The International, a monster-of-a-golf-course stretching out to 8,325 yards from the “tiger tees,” just about an hour outside of Boston. It will be Smith’s third academy, joining his original at The Treetops in Michigan and second at Tiburon GC in Naples, Fla.
“Leading Edge” had an opportunity for some one-on-one time with Smith regarding the announcement of his latest venture, and specifically where he sees golf instruction moving in the future.
“I’ve really done a lot to study where the game has gone and where it’s going,” Smith said,” and it’s all about fitness now. “Fitness and nutrition is critical and having a plan is critical in this game now.”
Smith’s own plan has consisted of implementing a fitness regimen that sees him noticeably more fit, which he recommends for everyone who is serious about the game, but doesn’t deem necessary to still have fun playing golf.
“Our first and most important job with the academies, with all of my instructors, is to teach people to relax and enjoy the game more,” Smith said. “That's why we're good. We’re good because we care about how our students improve and have fun. But we also want to show our students how critical club fitting is in this game and also how to improve their fitness to improve their games.”
That said, Smith has a system he follows, but he doesn’t prescribe to “method” teaching.
“I don’t prescribe to a specific method because I believe to be a great teacher you have to teach with different methods,” Smith said. “Methods don’t work. You have to teach the game from impact backwards.”
Smith is a believer in building a strong foundation from the short game first, then working out to a full swing.
“The short game is just a mini swing, so if you can teach someone to have a great short game and the proper fundamentals there, that can translate into the full swing.”
Smith’s new academy at The International will offer the 50-room resort at The International, which also houses a culinary school, as well as a Taylormade fitting lab and golf specific gym.