Kevin Duke

What is it?

Dave Pelz Scoring Game Schools are scheduled through the fall and winter in Arizona, California, Texas, Georgia, Florida and overseas. One-day clinics and two-day schools are also available.

Go to pelzgolf.com or call 1-800-833-7370 for more information.

You could call it a short-game boot camp.

For three straight days, seven golfers (four men and three women) spent close to eight hours each day practicing shots on and around the greens at Pronghorn, relearning techniques for scoring shots.

Pitching, chipping, bunker play, putting — all covered by instructors Ty Waldron and Trent Reeves, who were in Central Oregon last month to conduct the school at the resort northeast of Bend.

The pair make their living exclusively teaching the Dave Pelz technique, as they have for more than 20 years, holding the clinics at clubs and resorts across the U.S. and around the world. Pelz has been a world-renowned short-game instructor since the late ’70s, having worked with PGA Tour players such as Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Charles Howell III and many more.

“The reputation brings them (the students) here, and they’re willing to put in the time and the effort to see improvement,” Reeves said after the clinic at Pronghorn concluded.

Because he has worked with many well-known pros over the years, the Pelz name carries a lot of weight in the golf world — so students will sometimes find themselves in the same class with touring professionals, Waldron noted.

“What’s rewarding is that we get professional golfers, new golfers and people who play for a long time,” he said. “They realize what they are up to isn’t getting them to where they want to be.

“The golfers that come here make the time and make the trips to these locations, are obviously very serious and wanting to improve. That’s what is so enjoyable, is that they realize we are going to give them a plan to help them reach their potential.”

Waldron and Reeves teach the same system to the pros and amateurs alike.

“Dave studied the game originally as a physicist; he looked at golf from the ball’s perspective,” Waldron said. “So it would be safe to say to hit a pitch shot or chip shot, what a professional golfer would need to do is the same thing you would need to do.

“It wouldn’t be any different if the best player in the world was sitting next to a brand new golfer, because they need to accomplish the same thing.”

An investment

The golfers at the clinic paid a premium in an effort to improve their short games, some $2,500 for the three days of instruction in the Pelz technique. Class sizes are kept small, as the school guarantees one instructor for every four students.

It was the second time the school has been conducted at Pronghorn, with plans to hold more.

The three days were spent alternately doing putting drills on the practice green, chipping and pitching from near the green, hitting bunker shots, and learning in the classroom.

Was it worth it? To a person, the students all agreed they got what they came for, and then some.

“I think you have to make an investment with any instruction,” said Pam Massey, an accomplished tennis player from Eagle, Idaho, who has taken up golf in recent years.

“If it’s going to college, becoming a better tennis player, a better fly fisherman … it speeds up the process so much.”

“If you are a serious golfer, who plays once a week, you’re spending 4½ hours on the golf course, going to the range a lot, so you’re investing a lot of time,” said Robert Moorer, who made the trip from Santa Monica, California, to visit his parents and attend the clinic while he was in Central Oregon.

“If you are going to be spending all this time doing this activity, the cost of this camp is nothing. You are going to get way more enjoyment if you know what you’re doing and playing good golf.”

Like Massey, most of the players at the clinic were middle to high handicappers who were looking to shave a few shots off their scores.

“I have a goal to be a 10 handicap in three years,” Massey, a 17 handicap, said while practicing drills during the three days of the school. “Coming from a tennis background, I know you have to perfect your swing before you can ever achieve any goals.

“My goal was to learn how to actually do the stroke, so that I can go home and do the right things.”

She drove to Central Oregon to attend the clinic after trying for months to get in elsewhere.

“I’ve wanted to go to a Dave Pelz school for a long time; I called in for a few and they were full,” she said. “This one was in driving distance, and Pronghorn’s a great facility, so it was perfect for me.”

Moorer was the best golfer of the bunch, a 5 handicap who wants to get down to scratch. Despite being a good player already, he picked up some new tips for his short game.

“I learned there is a difference between a finesse swing and a full swing,” he said, “and that when you are around the green you should be using a finesse swing.”

He was unaware of the difference before attending the school, he said, because in his experience of taking lessons from multiple teaching pros, “only Dave Pelz is teaching that, as far as I know.”

He was shocked that he had not been taught the technique before.

“That they’ve been around for so long and it’s not common knowledge was very surprising,” Moorer said.

The students left the school with a flash drive containing notes from the instructors on what they needed to work on, various training aids for putting and pitch shots and videos of their swings — before and after the instruction.

Student, coach

Christine Fordyce, a high school golf coach at Salem Academy, had a dual purpose for attending the clinic.

“I came to get more information about the short game and putting for my athletes, so I can be a better teacher … and also came for my own golf game,” said Fordyce, who throughout the clinic was asking questions and furiously taking notes. “It’s just an outstanding school and I have a lot of good information I can take back.”

She said she plans on a lot of practice and studying of what she learned at the clinic “so I will feel confident teaching this new material to the students.”

Fordyce felt the short game techniques taught at the school were simple to understand, and therefore easy to teach to her student athletes.

“I think the school will give our students more information and specifics for shots they need around the course,” she said, “but at the same time making the process more simple, which is always great for them.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7868, kduke@bendbulletin.com .

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