Tom Patri: New teacher helping kids learn game

Naples is slowly getting after its development of juniors (too slow for me).

There, however, have been a few select folks out there who have gone way “above and beyond” in their efforts to both provide instruction as well as playing opportunities for our local kids.

Kathy Padgett, Cindy Darland, and Larry Gantzer have all put their hearts and souls into local kids and, having met each of them, I can assure you these folks truly care. Thank you all.

Recently there has been a “new cowboy” who has come to town, and boy oh boy he is a welcome addition (you cannot have too many opportunities for our kids). Ty Andersen came to town not long ago and has been doing great things for our kids ever since. He has recently received recognition so well deserved.

Ty was recognized for his tremendous efforts with juniors throughout his career as one of US Kids Golf’s Top 50 Kids Teachers in America for 2005. He will be honored along with other national award winners during a special ceremony at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in late January.

Ty was at my home recently and never mentioned the award. Only because a dear mutual friend of ours, Vin Dilisio, slipped the news to me, did I find out. Ty would never bring it up. Since it has not been formally announced, please all of you out there, don’t tell anyone!

Hey Ty, way to go. You’re a credit to our profession. I, for one, am glad you’re here. In a year or two when my son P.J. is ready, he is all yours.

On a separate note, did you folks get a chance to watch The Mercedes Championships from beautiful Hawaii this past week? Those guys were playing for a boatload of cash in a limited field event on a great golf course, at a five-star resort.

Each player was given a “free suite” at The Ritz Carlton on site. Both Tiger and Phil decided not to fire up their private jets and took a pass on the event. I think we have gotten to the point where loyalties to sports fans and cities who have adored their athletes are just a $52-million contract away (Johnny Damon) from the athlete saying “later” to a team or to an event.

Mercedes-Benz, which has “been there” for the PGA Tour in a sponsorship sense, did not mean a thing to several players last week. There is an ugly trend in pro sport, and soon it may come around to bite the boys.

I have to give a few lessons to equal the last-place check last week in Hawaii. Just a few — I would have been happy to hang out and play with the boys in Hawaii. Heck, I would have even flown out commercial and roughed it!

Tom Patri’s teaching academy has moved to Lely Resort, with an indoor studio now open at The Health Club of Naples on Immokalee Road. Patri is one of Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers in America. He can be reached at tpatri@mindspring.com. To set up a lesson, contact Brandi Hanson at 597-0787 or e-mail brandih@thehealthclubofnaples.com, or go to www.tompatri.com.

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