A golf swing can be a complicated thing, and teaching someone how to consistently make good ones isn’t any easier.
By all accounts, Derek Hardy makes it look easy. He was voted Southern California PGA teacher of the year in 1988 and Golf magazine has named him one of the top teachers in the nation.
However, Hardy often faces a significant handicap as a teacher--language. For the last six years, Hardy has been teaching golf in Japan. He always has an interpreter by his side, but the subtleties of the lesson, he says, often are lost in translation. So he depends heavily on demonstrations and drills to get his points across.
Hardy, who teaches in the United States at Pelican Hill, says he also faces cultural barriers. Japanese students, he says, approach the game differently than Americans and have a harder time learning to develop a “feel” for the game.
“They have the tendency to want to break the golf swing down into details,” Hardy said. “I’m just the opposite.”
Even so, Hardy says he’s getting results. He helped to establish a women’s golf college, and after several years of instruction many have made great progress. “Some of the girls we have over there, you can’t believe how good they swing,” Hardy said. “I’d bet they’re going to make it as Japanese tour players.”
Hardy, who became a golf professional at 15 in his native England, has a lot of experience with American tour players. As a teaching pro in Charleston, S.C., he helped future LPGA players Beth Daniel and Jane Geddes develop their games. Geddes, who has 10 victories on the LPGA tour, lists Hardy as one of her two most influential teachers. Hardy also works with Liselotte Neumann and Hollis Stacy and 1975 U.S. Women’s Open champion Sandra Palmer.
Despite his credentials, Hardy had a hard time finding an Orange County golf course that would allow him access to teach.
He had built a 150-200 student contingent when he was running Ridgeline County Club, an executive course in Orange. When his lease at Ridgeline ended about four years ago, he called three or four local courses to see if he could use their facilities. There were no takers.
“They didn’t realize that I would be bringing them business,” Hardy said. “I wasn’t interested in working with anyone at their clubs. I had my own students.”
Frustrated, Hardy decided to give up most of his local students and concentrate on teaching in Japan. “I just didn’t want to fight it anymore,” he said.
As his Japanese practice developed, Hardy was spending two weeks in Japan and then two weeks at home in Santa Ana and then repeating the cycle. He wrote magazine articles and had an instructional television show for a year.
Then in late 1993, Palmer, then a 30-year LPGA veteran, asked Hardy to help her resurrect her game. Palmer, who lives in Laguna Beach, was practicing at Pelican Hill and the course had recently opened its practice center.
The timing was perfect for Hardy. The staff at Pelican Hill agreed to let him teach there. He signed on as an independent contractor and is gradually re-establishing his base of U.S. students.
He still teaches in Japan--and once a year brings a group of his Japanese students to play Pelican Hill for a week--but now spends only two weeks there every two months.
Greener golf: Anaheim’s two city courses--Dad Miller and Anaheim Hills--replaced their gas-powered carts with electric ones last month.
Energy costs will be cut with the new carts, but spokesman Ed Munson says the most notable effect is that smog will be reduced. Munson said studies have shown that a single gas cart emits twice the smog-forming hydrocarbons as a new car.
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Here’s a look at the features that make one golf hole in Orange County stand out:
Hole: No. 3
Yardage: Upper tee box--White, 369; Red, 362; lower tee box--White, 349; Red, 342
Description: The creek that runs through the heart of the course provides the character and challenge on this par-4 hole. From the upper tees, it takes a 260-yard drive to clear the creek. Front edge of the creek is about 240 yards out, and if your ball goes there, there’s no easy way out.
Hint: If you must try to clear the creek, aim left. For all but the longest hitters, laying up is a better option; you still should have a short iron to the green.
Quote: “It’s a macho thing. You don’t see the ladies doing it. They play smart and lay up."--Mike Orloff, assistant professional