Golf Digest Woman
America's 50 Best Women Teachers
Presenting our inaugural ranking of female golf instructors as voted by their peers
What makes a great golf instructor? Experience. Patience.
Of course, great teachers have to understand swing mechanics, but they must also be able to connect with students on an emotional level. This is the desired quality that leads many golfers to look for a woman teaching pro. "Female instructors put me at ease in a different way," says Mary Zorcik, a 55-year-old weekend golfer from Foxfire Village, N.C. Mary's husband, Lenny, 72, also prefers taking lessons from a woman. "Like me, a female pro has never had the luxury of relying on brute force to hit the ball well, so her swing is more technically sound," he says.
For the first time, Golf Digest has ranked the 50 Best Women Teachers in America, as voted by their peers. We sent ballots to more than 1,100 female PGA of America members and LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals, and they produced a list of instructors with a combined 1,329 years of teaching experience in 21 states. Among our honorees you'll find a major champion, groundbreaking mental-game coaches and doctors of education. Best of all, every one of our teachers is taking appointments from the public. Go ahead, book one now.
1. PIA NILSSON
Vision 54/The Legacy Golf Resort, Phoenix, Ariz. vision54.com
Nilsson, best known as Annika Sorenstam's coach, believes in the complete-game teaching approach. She and fellow teacher Lynn Marriott operate the Vision 54 golf schools -- named for the score you would have if you birdied every hole. Nilsson and Marriott start with the idea that every player has "unlimited" potential. Ranked 18th on Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers in America, Nilsson was awarded the King of Sweden's Medal of the 8th Dimension for her leadership in sports in 1998.
2. LYNN MARRIOTT
Vision 54/The Legacy Golf Resort, Phoenix, Ariz. vision54.com
Alongside Pia Nilsson, Marriott uses an integrated teaching philosophy that focuses on the physical, technical, mental, emotional and social aspects of the game. Her students include the PGA Tour's Kevin Streelman and LGPA Tour standout Ai Miyazato. Marriott is ranked T-37 on Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers list. In 2008, the LPGA's Teaching & Club Professionals division (T&CP) honored Marriott with the Ellen Griffin Rolex Award for her contributions to teaching golf.
3. DANA RADER
Dana Rader Golf School, Charlotte, N.C. danarader.com
Rader, an LPGA Master Professional with 30 years teaching experience, is national president of the LPGA's T&CP division. Ranked 46th on Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers list, Rader works with everyone from elite players to beginners.
4. PEGGY KIRK BELL
Pine Needles Lodge & G.C. Southern Pines, N.C. pineneedles-midpines.com
Bell was the first woman inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, in 2004. She also founded the Golfari golf school for women, at Pine Needles. Bell, 88, was an accomplished amateur and a former tour player. She also played a key role in the founding of the LPGA Tour.
5. SUZY WHALEY
TPC River Highlands Cromwell, Conn. suzywhaleygolf.com
Best known as the first woman in 58 years to qualify for a PGA Tour event (the 2003 Greater Hartford Open), Whaley is a member of the PGA of America's National Instruction committee and an incoming board member of the PGA of America. She teaches golfers of all ages and abilities.
6. GALE PETERSON
Sea Island Golf Learning Ctr. St. Simons Island, Ga. seaislandglc.com
Peterson's 30-year career at Sea Island has earned her several accolades, including LPGA T&CP National Teacher of the Year (1996) and Georgia PGA Section Teacher of the Year (1997). She's ranked T-40 on Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers list.
7. KATHY MURPHY
ASU Karsten G. Cse., Tempe, Ariz. kathymurphygolf.com
Murphy, the 2001 LPGA T&CP National Teacher of the Year, primarily teaches competitive golfers and uses an integrated technique that analyzes physical behaviors, psychological thoughts and fundamental principles of motion. Clubfitting is also part of her curriculum.
8. DEBBIE CREWS
Arizona State University/ ASU Karsten G. Cse., Tempe, Ariz. debbiecrews.com
Crews is an assistant research professor at ASU who focuses on mental-game coaching. She works with ASU's golf teams and LPGA Tour players such as Anna Nordqvist, and conducts teacher training for the LPGA National Education Program.
9. JANE K. FROST
Sandwich Hollows G.C. East Sandwich, Mass. janefrostgolfschools.com
An LPGA T&CP National Teacher of the Year (1994), Frost offers golfers of all abilities teaching options such as golf schools, private lessons, mental-concentration-technique classes, Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) evaluations and corporate outings.
10. ANNETTE THOMPSON
BallenIsles C.C. Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. ballenisles.org
Thompson, a former national president of the LPGA T&CP (1981-'85), is an Ellen Griffin Rolex Award winner (2002) and member of the LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame. In May and June, she's a staff teacher for Peggy Kirk Bell's Golfari golf school in Southern Pines, N.C.
11. DONNA WHITE
Golf Professional Services Inc./Okeeheelee G. Cse. West Palm Beach, Fla. golfproservices.org
White, winner of the 1976 U.S. Women's Amateur and three LPGA Tour titles, has earned several awards, including the Ellen Griffin Rolex Award (2006) and LPGA T&CP National Professional of the Year (2008). White believes in creating personalized lesson programs for each student.
12. CAROL PREISINGER
Kiawah Island Club Golf Academy Kiawah Island, S.C. kiawahislandclub.com
Preisinger, the 1998 LPGA T&CP National Teacher of the Year, offers students comprehensive teaching packages that might include video analysis, mental- golf profiles and physical-conditioning screens.
13. SANDY LaBAUVE
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Ariz. kierlandresort.com
A Level 3 certified teacher for Jim Hardy's Plane Truth Golf Schools, LaBauve teaches players of all ages and abilities to read their ball flights to correct their swing flaws. She is also the founder of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program.
14. CHERYL ANDERSON
Mike Bender Golf Academy Lake Mary, Fla. mikebender.com
Before relocating to Florida in 2008, Anderson won five Met PGA Section Women's Player of the Year awards (2000-'04) and was named the 2006 LPGA T&CP National Teacher of the Year. She works with women, seniors, juniors and golfers with disabilities.
15. LORRAINE G. KLIPPEL
Bumble Bee Hollow Golf Ctr. Harrisburg, Pa. bumblebeehollow.com
Klippel, an LPGA Master Professional, has been teaching for more than 35 years and was inducted into the LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame in 2009. A custom-clubmaker since 1975, she's recognized by the industry as an expert in clubfitting.
16. CINDY MILLER
Wehrle Golf Dome Williamsville, N.Y. cindymillergolf.com
An accomplished player and two-time LPGA T&CP Northeast Section Teacher of the Year, Miller competes on the Legends Tour (the official senior tour of the LPGA). Her lesson plans include four-day "boot camp" golf schools for juniors and adults.