Jul 26th, 2018
How to hit it miles with David Leadbetter
As he opens fantastic new facility at Stoke Park
Words: Thomas Kershaw
Hall-of-fame golf instructor David Leadbetter has opened his flagship UK golf academy at the exquisite Stoke Park Country Club.
The heavily twanged Rhodesian, who was born just an hour and a half away in Worthing, now has over forty academies across the globe everywhere from the deserts of Dubai to the tropics of Thailand and the corn straws of Georgia.
The coaching pioneer, who’s worked with innumerable Tour stars past and present, including Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, and Zimbabwean kinsman Nick Price, has made base at the nucleus of the illustrious 300-acre estate in Buckinghamshire. Famed as the hallowed ground where Sean Connery engaged in heroic battle with Goldfinger, the academy lies at the foot of the decadent Georgian mansion designed by Oxford University architect James Wyatt, which has now been converted into a grand five-star hotel.
The academy features an elite scholarship scheme for 24 of the country’s best prospects, the majority of whom are playing for England Golf. Its touted future Tour winner is Conor Gough, the fifteen-year-old phenom who broke the course record at Stoke Park with a 63, including a seven-under back-nine, at an astounding fourteen years of age. Yesterday, Leadbetter gave the sunburnt starlets a two-hour clinic as the heat finally began to relent in the evening.
They’re taught on a weekly basis by the six Leadbetter-certified instructors, most of who have featured on the Challenge and EuroPro tours and have to pass Leadbetter’s meticulously designed 54-point training regime as well as an interview showdown with the grand wizard himself to achieve the certification. One pro even confided that he could scarcely touch his sandwich such were the nerves at the final hurdle but Leadbetter has continuously given him invaluable guidance for a number of years since.
Leadbetter cut the proverbial ribbon to the academy by delighting a group of members and guests with priceless pearls of wisdom on iron, pitching and bunker play and even called on a few unsuspecting victims to repent for their swing sins. Sadly, no matter how omniscient, some are simply beyond the resurrection of any Samaritan.
How to smash it miles with David Leadbetter
Leadbetter has been based in the UK for a number of weeks now having commentated for the BBC at The Open as well as veering his pupils through the final day gusts at Carnoustie and congratulated the exceptional consistency of the champion Molinari. Next week, he’s off to Royal Lytham and St. Annes to oversee the likes of Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang, who are both in search of a second major under Leadbetter.
Stoke Park also celebrated the re-opening of their Jackson Lane nine, which has recently been furnished and re-bunkered alongside the 18-hole championship course. Originally designed by legendary course architect Henry Colt, it hosts Pro-ams and regional competitions throughout the year and has somehow staved off the blistering heat to leave its fairways viridescent rather than a withered beige.
Despite being the most sought-after coach in the golfing world, like a desert oasis to all golf’s hapless hopefuls whether professional or dilettante, Leadbetter’s Stoke Park academy is available to all willing to address their seemingly incorrigible flaws.