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Hall earns Golf Channel instruction show

Martin Hall is your newest Golf Channel teacher.

Beginning Jan. 25, he’ll preside over the network’s newest instructional series, “School of Golf,” a weekly 30-minute show.

Hall, the director of instruction at Ibis Golf & Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., emerged as the winner when Golf Channel went searching for its next instructional host as part of last month’s “12 Nights at the Academy.” He was among three finalists in the search who hosted shows in the series.

In “School of Golf,” Hall will relay insight from his 30 years of teaching experience.

“I didn’t choose the title of the show, but I absolutely love it,” Hall said. “I love it because I see myself as a true teacher.”

By that, Hall means he sees himself as a student of the game who has honed a skill for passing along his knowledge.

“I’ve been influenced by so many sources, Hall of Fame players and teachers,” Hall said. “I’m really looking forward to sharing things I’ve learned from players like Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson and teachers like Bob Toski, Jim Flick and Chuck Cook. I’ve got some interesting stories from some interesting sources, and I’m glad to pass them on.”

Like any good student, Hall also has a large library.

“I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of books and videotapes about the game,” Hall said. “I’ve also got books about the great coaches in sport, about Vince Lombardi and John Wooden. The great coaches fascinate me.”

Hall, the PGA of America’s Teacher of the Year in 2008, is ranked No. 10 in Golf Digest’s annual rankings of the game’s top 50 teachers. He’s made that list every year since the magazine began producing it 10 years ago. He was Morgan Pressel’s first teacher, helping the junior phenom qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open when she was 12, win the U.S. Amateur when she was 17 and become the youngest winner of an LPGA major championship when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship at 18.

Growing up in Stoke-on-Trent in the heart of England, Hall played the European Tour from 1976-78, where he learned some of the lessons he’ll pass on to viewers the hard way.

“I played the tour with an alarming lack of success,” Hall cracks. “I became a teacher in ’78 after missing a horribly smelly 3-foot putt I needed to keep my tour card.”

Viewers can expect a dose of Hall’s British humor in his teaching. It’s been part of his appeal in his 13 years at Ibis.

“I grew up in the middle of England, where humor’s an important part of life,” Hall said. “It’s the same part of the country that Lee Westwood and (Westwood’s manager) Chubby Chandler grew up in. We take the game seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

After giving up tour golf, Hall took his first job as a teaching professional at England’s Wentworth Club under Bernard Gallacher, who played on eight European Ryder Cup teams and captained three others. Five years into teaching, Hall stumbled upon a classified ad in Golf Digest promoting a Golf Digest School at Turnberry. Toski, Flick, Cook and Peter Kostis were featured teachers. Hall visited the school and struck up friendships with the staff, which would lead Hall to the United States when he was 25.

“Seeing them was a real life changer,” said Hall, who is married to the former Lisa Ann Hackney, a four-time Ladies European Tour winner and the LPGA’s Rookie of the Year in 1997. “They knew so much about how to teach, and I saved every penny I had to travel to the United States to learn from them.”

Hall flew to the Golf Digest School at Boca West in South Florida, where he would land a job at St. Andrews in Boca Raton. He’ll tell you he’s still learning as he continues to seek out the best players and teachers.  

“What I hope to do in this show is honor the people who’ve helped me so much,” Hall said.

Hall will honor them with plain talk, humor and his array of teaching props.