2019-'20 RankingNovember 26, 2019

The 50 Best Teachers In America

Chris O'Riley

What does a great golf instructor look like? It has never been harder to fit one into some kind of standard teacher template.

The members of Golf Digest's newest 50 Best Teachers list can certainly be found in the traditional places and playing their traditional roles—working with the greatest players in the world on PGA Tour ranges and sharing decades of acquired wisdom from the most prestigious practice facilities on the planet.

But each biennial survey has proved to be a sensitive tool for measuring the emerging prominence of teachers joining the national instruction conversation. And many of the fast-rising and new members of the group are building their reputations and profiles in different and less-traditional ways—from short-game and coaching specialization to scientific research and reaching the masses through social media.

For 20 years, Golf Digest has produced the most comprehensive instructor rankings in the game—anchored by peer evaluation from hundreds of elite teachers across the country. The 2019-’20 rankings are our most ambitious yet. We asked more teachers to vote in our two-tiered national and regional survey than ever before—more than 1,500—and expanded the palette of local instructors they could evaluate beyond the borders of their states. The lists you see here are the summary of their collective evaluation.

The results reveal both the giants in golf instruction—like Butch Harmon, who was voted No. 1 nationally for the 10th time in the 11 surveys we’ve done since 2000—and the nearly 1,000 talented rank-and-file teachers on our best-in-state-lists who fix swings near you.


2018 Ranking in parentheses
▶ New To The Ranking

1.) BUTCH HARMON (1)
VOTES: 3,130 LESSON RATE: $1,500/hour
FACILITY: Butch Harmon School of Golf (Rio Secco G.C.), Henderson, Nev.

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2.) MIKE ADAMS (2)
VOTES: 1,611
LESSON RATE: $350/hour
FACILITY: Fiddler's Elbow C.C., Bedminster Twp., N.J.

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3.) MIKE BENDER (6)
VOTES: 1,499
LESSON RATE: $300/hour
FACILITY: Mike Bender Golf Academy at Magnolia Plantation, Lake Mary, Fla.

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4.) DAVID LEADBETTER (7)
VOTES: 1,314
LESSON RATE: $750/hour
FACILITY: David Leadbetter Golf Academy at ChampionsGate, Orlando

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5.) CHUCK COOK (3)
VOTES: 1,268
LESSON RATE: $350/hour
FACILITY: University of Texas G.C. in Austin

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6.) CLAUDE HARMON III (12)
VOTES: 1,234
LESSON RATE: $450/hour
FACILITY: Butch Harmon Floridian, Palm City, Fla.

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7.) JIM MCLEAN (4)
VOTES: 1,233
LESSON RATE: $450/hour
FACILITY: Jim McLean Golf School at The Biltmore Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.

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8.) SEAN FOLEY (10)
VOTES: 1,212
LESSON RATE: $1,000/hour
FACILITY: Sean Foley Performance at EaglesDream (Timacuan G.C.), Lake Mary, Fla.

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9.) CHRIS COMO (17)
VOTES: 1,149
LESSON RATE: $10,000/day
FACILITY: Dallas National Golf Club, Dallas; Golf & Body, New York

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10.) CAMERON MCCORMICK (5)
VOTES: 1,117
LESSON RATE: $500/hour
FACILITY: Altus Performance at Trinity Forest G.C., Dallas

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11.) GEORGE GANKAS
VOTES: 1,037 LESSON RATE: $800/hour
FACILITY: Westlake G. Cse., Westlake Village, Calif.


12.) JAMES SIECKMANN (16)
VOTES: 1,021
LESSON RATE: $250/hour
FACILITY: Golf Academy at Shadow Ridge C.C., Omaha

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13.) MARTIN HALL (11)
VOTES: 1,010 LESSON RATE: $250/hour
FACILITY: The Club at Ibis, West Palm Beach

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14.) JIM HARDY (9)
VOTES: 905
LESSON RATE: $500/hour
FACILITY: Plane Truth Golf at BlackHorse G.C., Cypress, Texas

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RELATED: Golf Digest's new list: The Best Teachers in Every State

15) TODD ANDERSON (T-14)
VOTES: 844
LESSON RATE: $450/hour
FACILITY: PGA Tour’s Performance Center at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach

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16.) MICHAEL BREED (13)
VOTES: 816
LESSON RATE: $500/hour
FACILITY: Michael Breed Golf Academy (Trump G. Links at Ferry Point), New York City

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17.) MARK BLACKBURN (35)
VOTES: 759
LESSON RATE: $350/hour
FACILITY: Blackburn Golf Academy at Greystone G. & C.C., Birmingham, Ala.


18.) PIA NILSSON (T-14)
VOTES: 739
LESSON RATE: $400/hour
FACILITY: Vision54 (Talking Stick G.C.), Scottsdale

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19.) MIKE MALASKA (19)
VOTES: 711
LESSON RATE: $400/hour
FACILITY: Malaska Golf at Superstition Mountain G. & C.C., Gold Canyon, Ariz.

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20.) STAN UTLEY (25)
VOTES: 671
LESSON RATE: $500/hour
FACILITY: Grayhawk Learning Center, Scottsdale

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21.) HANK HANEY (8)
VOTES: 655
LESSON RATE: $15,000/day
FACILITY: Hank Haney Golf Ranch at Vista Ridge, Lewisville, Texas

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22.) ANDY PLUMMER (26)
VOTES: 636
LESSON RATE: $350/hour
FACILITY: Stack & Tilt Miami at Turnberry Isle, Aventura, Fla.

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23.) LYNN MARRIOTT (24)
VOTES: 619
LESSON RATE: $400/hour
FACILITY: Vision54 (Talking Stick G.C.), Scottsdale

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24.) MICHAEL HEBRON (23)
VOTES: 590
LESSON RATE: $145/hour
FACILITY: Smithtown (N.Y.) Landing G. Cse.


25.) ANDREW RICE (34)
VOTES: 588
LESSON RATE: $200/hour
FACILITY: The C. at Savannah Harbor, Savannah, Ga.


26.) SCOTT HAMILTON (30)
VOTES: 555
LESSON RATE: $400/hour
FACILITY: Scott Hamilton Golf Academy at Cartersville (Ga.) C.C.


27.) DANA DAHLQUIST
VOTES: 549
LESSON RATE: $350/hour
FACILITY: El Dorado Park G. Cse., Long Beach, Calif.


28.) BRIAN MANZELLA (29)
VOTES: 521
LESSON RATE: $200/hour
FACILITY: Brian Manzella Golf Academy at English Turn G. & C.C., New Orleans

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29.) BOB TOSKI (18)
VOTES: 525
LESSON RATE: $250/hour
FACILITY: Toski Golf, Lake Worth, Fla.

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30.) BILL HARMON (22)
VOTES: 521
LESSON RATE: $250/hour
FACILITY: Bill Harmon Performance Center at Toscana C.C., Indian Wells, Calif.

RELATED: Golf Digest's new list: The Best Teachers in Every State


31.) DAVE PHILLIPS (37)
VOTES: 502
LESSON RATE: $300/hour
FACILITY: TPI, Oceanside, Calif.

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32.) MICHAEL JACOBS (32)
VOTES: 499
LESSON RATE: $300/hour
FACILITY: Jacobs 3D Golf at Rock Hill G. & C.C., Manorville, N.Y.

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T-33.) NICK CLEARWATER
VOTES: 489
LESSON RATE: $300/hour
FACILITY: GolfTEC Headquarters, Englewood, Colo.

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T-33.) DAVID ORR
VOTES: 489
LESSON RATE: $250/hour
FACILITY: Pine Needles Lodge & G.C., Southern Pines, N.C.


35.) JIM SUTTIE (35)
VOTES: 479
LESSON RATE: $190/hour
FACILITY: The Golf Academy at TwinEagles, Naples, Fla.

RELATED: An exclusive, 12-part video series with Tiger Woods


36.) MARTIN CHUCK
VOTES: 468
LESSON RATE: $265/hour
FACILITY: Tour Striker Golf Academy at Raven G.C., Phoenix


37.) RANDY SMITH (31)
VOTES: 444
LESSON RATE: $200/hour
FACILITY: Royal Oaks G.C., Dallas

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38.) DAVE PELZ (33)
VOTES: 428
LESSON RATE: $20,000/day
FACILITY: Dave Pelz Scoring Game Schools, Austin


T-39.) MIKE BENNETT (36)
VOTES: 408
LESSON RATE: $300/hour
FACILITY: Stack & Tilt Miami at Turnberry Isle, Aventura, Fla.

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T-39.) DAVE STOCKTON (28)
VOTES: 408
LESSON RATE: $600/hour
FACILITY: Stockton Golf, Redlands, Calif.

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41.) GRANT WAITE
VOTES: 388
LESSON RATE: $500/hour
FACILITY: C.C. of Ocala (Fla.)


42.) BERNIE NAJAR (41)
VOTES: 384
LESSON RATE: $200/hour
FACILITY: Caves Valley G.C., Owings Mills, Md.

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43.) TONY RUGGIERO
VOTES: 370
LESSON RATE: $300/hour
FACILITY: C.C. of Mobile (Ala.); Frederica G.C., St. Simons Island, Ga.

RELATED: Golf Digest's new list: The Best Teachers in Every State


44.) RICK SMITH (45)
VOTES: 366
LESSON RATE: $600/hour
FACILITY: Rick Smith Golf Performance Center at Trump National Doral, Miami

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T-45.) JAMES LEITZ
VOTES: 363
LESSON RATE: $150/hour
FACILITY: James Leitz Golf at Tchefuncta C.C., Covington, La.


T-45.) BOYD SUMMERHAYS
VOTES: 363
LESSON RATE: $400/hour
FACILITY: McDowell Mountain G.C., Scottsdale

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47.) CHERYL ANDERSON (T-46)
VOTES: 358
LESSON RATE: $200/hour
FACILITY: Mike Bender Golf Academy (Magnolia Plantation G.C.), Lake Mary, Fla.

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48.) KEVIN WEEKS (42)
VOTES: 354
LESSON RATE: $200/hour
FACILITY: Cog Hill G. & C.C., Lemont, Ill.

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49.) JOHN DUNIGAN (39)
VOTES: 350
LESSON RATE: $200/hour
FACILITY: White Manor C.C., Malvern, Pa.


T-50.) PETER KOSTIS (43)
VOTES: 334
LESSON RATE: $350/hour
FACILITY: Grayhawk Learning Center (Grayhawk G.C.), Scottsdale


T-50.) TRILLIUM ROSE
VOTES: 334
LESSON RATE: $180/hour
FACILITY: Woodmont C.C., Rockville, Md.

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T-50.) CRAIG SHANKLAND (T-46)
VOTES: 334
LESSON RATE: $160/hour
FACILITY: LPGA International, Daytona Beach

RELATED: An exclusive, 12-part video series with Tiger Woods


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