Top instructor and swing coach Rick Smith didn't have to look far to find a new home in Southwest Florida.
After Tiburon Golf Club, where Smith had an academy since its opening in 1998, decided to move in a different direction a few months ago, Smith wanted to keep the client base he had built. Enter Raptor Bay Golf Club and the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs.
"I'm real excited," said Smith, who was in town from Nov. 10-12 at his new home. "We were trying to decide where we were going to go.
"I love Southwest Florida."
Smith said Host Marriott wanted to "do some different things," and they decided "starting fresh is great."
Rick Rainville, the general manager of Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, said the club will have a new PGA Tour Academy and a TaylorMade Performance Lab, with more information on that being released in the coming weeks.
"Rick did a lot for this community," Rainville said. "Rick's a really good guy. His brand has certainly helped WCI and the Ritz."
Smith visited the Hyatt and Raptor Bay, which was designed by Raymond Floyd.
"I love the attitude," said Smith, who has his main academy at Treetops in Michigan. "I loved the approach that everybody was taking, and we were going to be really welcomed and embraced."
Smith will use his experience over the years teaching some of the top players on the PGA Tour such as Phil Mickelson, Rocco Mediate, Jerry Kelly and Matt Kuchar.
"The beauty is we have my programs, the latest technology from really being on tour," Smith said. "We take a lot of our technology with us. Now we're going to be bringing that."
Like Tiburon, Raptor Bay is a WCI Communities property, so Smith had some experience with the organization. Smith is putting together his team of instructors.
"It's like having a great restaurant that you have certain recipes," Smith said. "I've got the top chefs to carry it off. That's why I'm kind of being really selective. You've got to go have a good, broad basis of talent that can communicate to different levels of players, and also different age groups, from juniors all the way to seniors."