Swing into Sheraton

Golf course offers group, private lessons

— Golf instructor Troy Weller insists he doesn't teach golf -- he teaches people.

Weller, one of two professional instructors at the Steamboat Sheraton Golf Resort, came to Steamboat Springs in summer 1999 after cutting his teeth at the John Jacobs' Golf Schools in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"That was one of the first things I learned," Weller said. "I just enjoy passing the game on to other people, teaching them to love the game of golf."

Weller said many locals overlook the Sheraton when it comes to learning golf. He admits that the course's green fees and mountain location have scared more than a few people away.

But he said golfers who live in the valley should consider the quality of the course's driving range, programs and instructors when looking for a place to learn the game.

"I've been teaching for the past 12 years," Weller said. "Our teaching staff is experienced and equal to any you will find in Steamboat."

Private lessons at the Sheraton Resort start at $75 an hour. Weller said the course offers a series of five lessons for $300. A private lesson includes one-on-one instruction and video analysis.

Weller said he tries to tell golfers what they are doing right and wrong.

"Nothing brings the point home faster than watching your swing on video," Weller said. "It's one of the fastest and best ways to learn."

If the private lessons are too expensive, Weller suggests calling the pro shop and signing up for group clinics, which are offered during the summer.

The group clinics must have at least four students, but Weller said the student-teacher ratio is never more than 5-to-1. Those clinics start at about $45 per person for a 1 1/2- to two-hour session.

"Group lessons tend to be appealing because they are less intimidating than the one-on-one aspect of a private lesson."

Weller said golfers also get a chance to take part in a clinic offered through a joint effort by Troon and Callaway Golf. The companies are teaming up to offer a "hybrid golf clinic" this summer.

The new hybrid club, which resembles a fairway wood, has been designed to replace the hard-to-hit irons most golfers keep in their bags.

Golfers taking part in the clinic will get a hybrid golf club and two hours of instruction.

The cost of the clinic still hasn't been determined, but Weller said golfers can call the pro shop for more information.

Weller said the new clubs, which have a slightly smaller head and different feel than a fairway wood, have been adopted by several tour professionals. He expects the trend to catch on with local golfers.

Weller also encouraged experienced golfers to come to the Sheraton's driving range and course, which are open to the public.

The range opens at 7 a.m. every day and costs $20 an hour for unlimited balls.

The cost to play 18 holes in the regular season is $135 Monday through Thursday, and $140 Friday through Sunday. The twilight rate of $95 starts at 3 p.m.

Instructor Brian Thorne also has been with the resort for the past two seasons.

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