Barton Creek and David Leadbetter Create a First-Class Golf Academy

By Kyle Dalton, Contributor

AUSTIN, TX - Whether it's Paris, Texas or Paris, France, any conversation about the Barton Creek Resort is likely to include discussion of its four first-class golf courses. Fazio-Foothills and Fazio-Canyons are what many consider the top two courses in the state and are the main reason Barton Creek refers to itself as the Golf Capital of Texas. With the addition of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy (DLGA), Barton Creek has increased its stronghold as the state's top golf destination.

The DLGA, which is part of a larger program known as The Golf Institute at Barton Creek, is designed to build a lifelong game for its clients, helping each student realize their full potential, while at the same time offering a rewarding and enjoyable experience. To achieve its goal, the DLGA incorporates into its teachings the basic fundamentals of the swing, which are the essential components of David Leadbetter's philosophy and include grip, athletic posture, pivot and positioning of the club and body.

While his philosophy by itself is unique, the DLGA at Barton Creek is distinct because it is only one of 17 academies worldwide and one of two in the United States. The other U.S.-based academy is at the Leadbetter worldwide headquarters located in Orlando, Florida.

"There's not another David Leadbetter Academy within 1,500 miles of here," said Barton Creek President and COO Michael Thomas. "We not only expect people from Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, but St. Louis, Chicago and the west coast to come here for instruction."

Discussions of the joint venture with Leadbetter began two years ago according to Thomas. He said Barton Creek wanted to strike a deal with Leadbetter from the beginning because of his worldwide success with clients such as Ernie Els, Nick Price, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and former University of Texas golfer Brandel Chamblee.

Thomas said representatives of Barton Creek believed if they could reach an agreement with Leadbetter, who is recognized by many as the best teacher in the world, it would show Barton Creek's commitment to improving the golf game of both its members and guests. "As a part of the Pinehurst Company, our vision is the Commonwealth of Golf. Golf is what we do. With that, there is no better way for us to validate our golf schools and put ourselves on the golf map when it comes to instruction than having David Leadbetter. That's a huge statement."

At the opening celebration of the DLGA Barton Creek, Leadbetter said he was equally pleased to start an academy at such an esteemed location. "The Pinehurst Company and Barton Creek caught our attention and we wanted to be associated with something of this class. I think this is a perfect fit because my current sponsors include Rolex, Cadillac, and Callaway. I think Barton Creek is in that same category and we are thrilled to be here."

Leadbetter said he has had the opportunity to start other academies around the world, but it can be difficult finding qualified personnel that meet his rigorous certification standards. "We have been asked in the past to start other academies, but we didn't want to water down the market. It's tough to staff an academy with people who are competent and are top-notch teachers."

Leadbetter specifically selected the two instructors for the DLGA Barton Creek and he went with a combination of familiar and new.

Sean Hogan is familiar to Leadbetter and new to Barton Creek. Hogan is originally from Dublin, Ireland and played on the Irish National Junior Golf Team. Hogan joined the Leadbetter team in 1994 as a trainee. After he completed the yearlong comprehensive training program, Hogan went to Europe where he taught at locations including Austria, Spain and Portugal. He returned to the U.S. and Leadbetter headquarters in Orlando until his recent appointment by Leadbetter as DLGA Barton Creek Academy Director.

Tom Bennett is familiar to Barton Creek and relatively new to Leadbetter. Bennett graduated from Indiana University with a BA in economics before setting out as a teacher in both the U.S. and Europe. He has worked with top-rated instructors Dick Farley and Rick McCord as part of their ‘Swing's the Thing' School and studied personally with world-class instructors Chuck Cook and Leadbetter as part of the certification program. Bennett, who has been at Barton Creek for several years, is director of instruction for the DLGA Barton Creek.

Hogan and Bennett will provide a variety of instruction from the beginning of March through mid-December. Their training grounds and location of the DLGA is at the $470,000 complex, which is located at the Fazio-Canyons driving range. The practice facility includes up to 20 hitting stations as well as several covered hitting areas for inclement conditions; all with the opportunity to hit to multiple targets. The facility also includes an enclosed structure for high-tech video/computer analysis as well as first-class putting and pitching greens.

David Leadbetter Golf Academy at Barton Creek Resort
8212 Barton Club
Austin, TX 78735
Phone: (512) 301-1054

DLGA Program Description and Prices

Three-Day Retreat
Runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily including lunch with your instructor. With a maximum of four students, the retreat covers all aspects of the game with an emphasis on technique, scoring, and playing improvement. Included in the retreat is a detailed video/computer analysis, club fitting evaluation, and 18 holes of on-course instruction. In addition, students receive a Leadbetter gift bag, personalized take-home videotape, and follow-up letter of evaluation.

Single - $2,830 Double - $2,530

Three-Day Morning School
Runs from 9 a.m. to noon daily. With a maximum of four students, this school focuses on improving both your full swing and short game techniques. It includes a detailed video/computer analysis, club fitting evaluation, personalized take-home videotape, and follow-up letter of evaluation.

Single - $2,230 Double - $1,930

Half-Day Session
The three-hour half-day session is designed to improve either your full swing or short game technique. With a maximum of four students, this program is available at select times and includes a detailed video/computer analysis, personalized take-home videotape, and a complete plan for improvement.

Single - $295

Private Lesson
The one-hour lesson offers one-on-one personal instruction focusing on improving a specific area of your game. It includes video analysis, personalized take-home videotape, and a follow-up letter of evaluation.

Single - $135

Club Fitting Session
The one-hour fitting session uses the latest technology to help you improve your game by providing you with a detailed recommendation for your specific equipment needs.

Single - $135

Kyle Dalton, Contributor

Since graduating from the University of Texas in 1992 with a degree in journalism, Kyle Dalton has been a writer and editor for a variety of national publications in various fields.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment