COLUMBUS, Texas -- If you've ever wanted to learn the secrets of the successful touring pros, here's an opportunity. The Hal Sutton Golf Academy at Big Easy Ranch is open for business.
Sutton, who won 14 times on the PGA Tour, including two Players Championships and the 1983 PGA Championship, has a different perspective than most teaching professionals. As he likes to say, "Wouldn't you want to learn from the guys who had to go to battle?"
The Shreveport, La.-native isn't interested in just improving people's swings; he wants to teach people how to play golf. And he wants it to be a balanced, holistic experience.
Academy has all the tools
The new Big Easy Ranch -- located about 70 miles west of Houston – is a high-end sporting club that offers features the best in hunting, fishing, dining and golf. The golf course is just nine holes, but already the 1,570-yard course, which opened earlier this year and is designed by Chet Williams, is one of the best par 3 courses in the country. (Williams also designed The Needler as well as the regular course at Texas' top-rated Whispering Pines in Trinity.)
The 1,300-acre Big Easy Ranch also includes the Hal Sutton Golf Academy, which was just completed. Sutton himself designed the range and practice areas as well as helping to lay out the building with hitting bays that have all the state-of-the-art equipment in them – Trackman, Gears Golf, SwingCatalyst, and MySwing
"This technology tells the truth," Sutton said. "It allows us as instructors to get to the root cause much faster and helps you as a student receive the confirmation you need."
The technology, of course, is just a tool, but an important tool. So to aid Sutton in his quest to create one the best learning experiences in the country, the resort and private club hired Chase Cooper, formerly of MySwing, to oversee all that technology.
MySwing is a 3-D technology that uses sensors to give an accurate display of everything that's going on in a student's golf swing. With Cooper's expertise (he's also an excellent teacher) and Sutton's 50 years of competitive golf – most of that at the highest level – the Academy can offer a learning experience that's unparalleled. And it's much more than swing instruction. Sutton, who has a passion for working with juniors, teaches hist students to "play the game."
It's how many, not how far
In fact, Sutton believes that modern players – and especially juniors – are too obsessed with perfect swing mechanics and distance.
"On the scorecard you don't put down what club you hit; you put down your score," Sutton said. "How far you hit it doesn't matter."
Of course, as you might imagine, this is a premium experience, so coming to the Hal Sutton golf school at this private club/resort is a financial commitment, not out of line with any other premium resort.
The "Ultimate Experience," an all-inclusive golf school that combines the best of both the Hal Sutton Golf Academy and Big Easy Ranch is $5,000. It includes lodging, meals, sporting clays and fishing for $5,000. Of course it comes with personal attention that's more than a brief encounter from Sutton (he's really invested in student's games) as well as Cooper. And the meals and accommodations are first-rate (Big Easy Ranch offers luxury cabins for overnight stays), as is, of course, the other outdoor activities, which include stocked lakes just yards from the accommodations and main lodge.
The resort also offers two-day schools as well ($3,250), specialty golf schools and something called the College Golf Resume.
Some of the specialty schools include father/son, young beginners, five-day elite juniors and five-day elite adults. Contact Big Easy Ranch (BigEasyRanch.com) for rates.
The College Golf Resume is a half-day experience for college or prospective college players plus a 12-month practice membership to the Hal Sutton Golf Academy as well as a monthly 30-minute checkup in the golf lab, plus a monthly newsletter and bi-monthly newsletter specific to each individual's needs. Cost is $3,000.
The Academy also offers advanced clubfitting services, which range from $200 for a full set down to $100 for wedges or driver. Those who purchase clubs get half off of the clubfitting fees.