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.
17. JULIE COLE
Dana Rader Golf School, Charlotte, N.C. danarader.com
During her years as a tour player in the '80s, Cole won 14 titles worldwide. She has been with the Dana Rader Golf School since 1991 and is now a managing partner. A two-time LPGA T&CP Southeast Section Teacher of the Year, she also serves as an LPGA National Evaluator.
18. KAMMY MAXFELDT
Birchwood C.C. Westport, Conn. birchwoodcc.org
A three-time Met PGA Section Women's Player of the Year (1997-'99), Maxfeldt was one of the first women head pros in the Northeast. She specializes in playing lessons and teaching her students on-course confidence.
T-19. REBECCA DENGLER
Ed Oliver G.C. Wilmington, Del. rebeccadengler.com
Dengler, who has studied golf fitness and mental techniques, takes a holistic approach to teaching. To give students an overhaul of their game, she works with nutritionists, psychologists and motor-control experts.
T-19. VICKI PHILLIPS
Every Body Golf School at Oak Marr, Oakton, Va. everybodygolf.com
A decorated player on the LPGA T&CP senior circuit, Phillips is a certified clubfitter and has studied educational kinesiology, fitness and personal development for peak performance.
21. NANCY QUARCELINO
Nancy Quarcelino School of Golf/King's Creek G.C. Spring Hill, Tenn. qsog.com
Quarcelino is a 31-year teaching veteran who was named the LPGA T&CP National Teacher of the Year in 2000. She also has three Tennessee PGA Section Teacher of the Year awards.
T-22. TROY BECK
Troy Beck Golf Academy/Glenn Dale (Md.) G.C. troybeckgolfacademy.com
Beck earned the LPGA's 2008 Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award (given to an LPGA professional who "gives back to the game") for her commitment to junior golf. A member of the PGA of America's President's Council, Beck develops national programs to promote the game of golf to juniors.
T-22. DEB VANGELLOW
Sweetwater C.C. Sugar Land, Texas debvangellowgolf.com
Vangellow, the LPGA T&CP's national vice president, is a lead instructor for the LPGA's National Education Program. She has a master's degree in educational leadership/psychology, and her lessons cover skill development, clubfitting and wellness.
T-24. CAROL MANN
The Woodlands C.C. (Player) The Woodlands, Texas thewoodlandscc.com
During 49 years of teaching, Mann has given more than 700 clinics, but she prefers individual instruction and playing lessons. A 38-time LPGA Tour winner (including two majors) and a member of the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame, Mann is known as "a teacher for highly motivated people."
T-24. RENEE POWELL
Clearview G.C. East Canton, Ohio clearview-gc.com
Powell is the only African-American woman Class-A LPGA and PGA of America professional. She has earned several teaching accolades, including the PGA of America's First Lady of Golf Award (2003), the LPGA's Budget Service Award (1999) and the Rolex "For the Love of the Game" Award (2007).
26. PATTI McGOWAN
Knack 4 Golf, Orlando knack4golf.com
McGowan, who teaches primarily at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, accepts students of all ages and abilities and uses drills and training aids. She also gives online academy lessons using video.
27. KAREN PALACIOS-JANSEN
Swing Blade Inc. Mooresville, N.C. swingbladegolf.com
Palacios-Jansen, the 2008 LPGA T&CP National Teacher of the Year, is a certified personal trainer and Pilates teacher who incorporates fitness training into her teaching. (She has developed an exercise program called Cardiogolf.)
28. SHERI HAYES
Carlsbad Golf Center Carlsbad, Calif. sherihayesgolf.com
The LPGA T&CP's 2008 Western Section Teacher of the Year and an LPGA National Education Program teacher, Hayes is a certified golf-fitness instructor who includes clubfitting and physical assessments in her teaching.
29. JENNIFER CULLY
Apollo Beach (Fla.) G.C. apollobeachgolf.com
Cully has served as an LPGA National Evaluator for the last seven years and enjoys mentoring and learning from new teachers. She has been teaching for 19 years.
30. MARDELL WILKINS Tijeras Creek G.C. Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. golflessonsorangecounty.com
Before becoming a teacher and earning two LPGA T&CP Western Section Teacher of the Year awards (1996 and 1998), Wilkins played on the LPGA Tour from 1971 to 1984.
31. MARJORIE JONES
Chelsea Piers Golf Academy New York City chelseapiers.com
The LPGA T&CP's 2007 Northeast Section Teacher of the Year and Player of the Year, Jones followed a career as an international tour player with one as a teacher of beginners. Her background in exercise physiology helps Jones evaluate a student's motion so she can customize her teaching to the player's needs.
32. PATTI BUTCHER
Patti Butcher Golf Academy/Blythefield C.C. Belmont, Mich. blythefieldcc.org
Butcher splits her time between competitive students and beginners. A two-time LPGA T&CP Midwest Section Teacher of the Year (2002 and 2006), she offers short-game schools, weekend golf experiences, private lessons and junior programs.
T-33 M.J. SMITH
Army Navy C.C. Arlington, Va. ancc.org
The first New Zealander to play on the LPGA Tour (1974-'89), Smith became an instructor after retiring from competitive golf. She teaches men and women and enjoys giving a weekly beginners' clinic that includes course management and short-game instruction.
T-33. JAN USHER
Montreux G. & C.C. Reno, Nev. montreuxgolf.com
Usher, the LPGA T&CP's 2005 Western Section Teacher of the Year, offers instruction plans for golfers of all abilities. These include golf schools, clinics, on-course playing experiences and videotaped lessons.
T-35. KRISTA DUNTON
Berkeley Hall, Bluffton, S.C. kristaduntongolf.com
Dunton, the LPGA T&CP's National Teacher of the Year in 2002 and a two-time PGA of America Section Teacher of the Year (New Jersey in 2001 and Carolinas in 2006) is a certified Plane Truth instructor. She specializes in short-game instruction.
T-35. LYNN STELLMAN
Martin County G. & C.C. Stuart, Fla. (772-287-3747)
Stellman has had several positions within the LPGA T&CP, including serving on its Executive Committee and as president and treasurer of the Southeast section. She gives private lessons and clinics to players of all abilities.
37. PEGGY GUSTAFSON
GolfTec Arrowhead Peoria, Ariz. golftec.com
As a certified GolfTec instructor (and in 2008 the first woman to be named GolfTec's Teacher of the Year), Gustafson gives more than 2,000 lessons a year, incorporating video, Internet lessons and biomechanical motion analysis.
T-38. JOY BONHURST SMITH
ClubGolf Performance Center, Gaithersburg, Md. clubgolfmd.com
Bonhurst Smith puts her students through ClubGolf's swing-biomechanics program, which includes 3-D video swing analysis and a 30-step physical evaluation. She is a two-time LPGA T&CP Northeast Section Teacher of the Year (2004 and 2009).
T-38. KAY McMAHON
Edukaytion Golf New Lebanon, N.Y. edukaytiongolf.com
In 39 years of teaching, McMahon has received the LPGA T&CP's National Teacher of the Year Award (1995), the Northeastern New York PGA Section Teacher of the Year Award (2009) and the LPGA's Ellen Griffin Rolex Award (2009). She specializes in individual lessons.
T-38. DEBBIE O'CONNELL
76 Golf World, Stuart, Fla. golfworld76.com
The 2007 recipient of the LPGA's Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award, O'Connell takes her teaching on the road for part of the year; in 2010, her calendar includes two golf schools with Nancy Lopez.
T-38. TERESA ZAMBONI
Crane Lakes G & C.C. Port Orange, Fla. cranelakes.com
As a certified personal trainer and TPI instructor, Zamboni -- the LPGA T&CP's 2007 National Teacher of the Year -- places great importance on conditioning. She incorporates fitness evaluations into her student assessments and builds a lesson plan around each player's physical abilities.
T-42 JEAN HARRIS
Golf Doctor Inc./Rose Hill G.C. Bluffton, S.C. golfdoctorjean.com
Harris (the LPGA T&CP's 2006 Southeast Section Teacher of the Year) has three degrees in health and physical education and a doctorate in adult education with an emphasis on gerontology (the study of aging). She specializes in teaching beginners over the age of 50.
T-42. JUDY FURST
Tradition G.C. La Quinta, Calif. traditiongolfclub.net
The LPGA T&CP's Western Section Teacher of the Year in 2007, Furst runs a weekly women's clinic but otherwise puts no gender or age limitations on her teaching. She places great emphasis on course management, setup, balance and posture.
T-42. KELLIE STENZEL
Sebonack G.C. Southampton, N.Y. kelliestenzelgolf.com
A former player on five worldwide tours, Stenzel is the author of three popular golf books for women. She splits her time between New York's Hamptons and Palm Beach and specializes in private lessons.
45. AMY FOX
Tierra Verde G.C. Arlington, Tex. arlingtongolf.com
A four-time LPGA T&CP Central Section Teacher of the Year (1996, 1999, 2003, 2008) and the 1999 National Teacher of the Year, Fox offers instruction to tour players and elite amateurs as well as beginners and players with disabilities. She focuses on the fundamentals and keeps her instruction as simple as possible.
T-46. KATHY GOOK
McCormick Ranch G.C. Scottsdale, kathygookgolf.com
Gook is a certified TPI instructor who teaches junior programs based on long-term athletic development in accordance with TPI principles. She also teaches advanced players and runs senior and women's clinics.
T-46. KATHY HART WOOD
Fiddler's Elbow C.C. Bedminster, N.J. kathyhartwood.com
Hart Wood, the sister of PGA Tour player Dudley Hart, specializes in private and corporate clinics and teaches many women and juniors. She is the founder of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf club of South Florida.
T-46. PATTI MARQUIS
The Links G.C. Post Falls, Id. golfthelinks.net
The only woman to be named the Pacific Northwest PGA Section Teacher of the Year (2003), Marquis is known for taking juniors to the level of scholarship-earning college stars. (The PGA Tour's Alex Prugh was one of her early students.)
49. LANA ORTEGA
Lana Ortega Golf, Denver, Co. lanaortegagolf.com
Ortega spent 12 years working with Mike McGetrick at the McGetrick Golf Academy before starting her golf school in 2006. The 2005 LPGA T&CP Central Section Teacher of the Year, she specializes in video instruction and is an experienced putterfitter.
50. BETSY CULLEN
Pine Forest C.C. Houston, Tex. pfcc.com
A longtime student of the late Harvey Penick and a three-time LPGA Tour winner, Cullen won the LPGA's Ellen Griffin Rolex Award in 2007 and was inducted into the Women's Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame in '08. She works with players of all abilities.