A group of 43 juniors were given a once-in-a-lifetime Captains' Clinic Wednesday morning from some of the legends of the game, including past U.S. Ryder Cup Captains Billy Casper, Dow Finsterwald and Hal Sutton during the Ryder Cup Junior Academy at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance.
Casper, a World Golf Hall of Fame Member and three-time major champion; Finsterwald, the 1958 PGA Champion; and Sutton; the 1983 PGA Champion, each took turns during the clinic to teach the students about the intricacies of the golf swing, preparation for both stroke-play and match-play formats, and the many mental aspects of the game.
"This has all been so exciting and you can tell that each of these juniors is eager to learn and get better," said Sutton, the 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain. "There is a true appreciation for what we are doing and I know that these kids have what it takes to be great."
Finsterwald, the victorious 1977 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, was also impressed by the students' ability, willingness to learn and improve.
"These kids have pretty fine games already and the changes they need to make are minimal," said Finsterwald, who owns a playing record of 9-3-1 in the Ryder Cup. "The three of us are here to offer little tips and minor changes that they can take with them when they go back home.'
"We want to see the game of golf grow, and these are the type of people that can make it happen."
The Ryder Cup Junior Academy, which runs through Sunday, offers a full week of instruction to selected juniors.
The Academy, developed in response to recommendations made by past United States Ryder Cup Captains, is designed to provide aspiring junior golfers, regardless of ethnic or economic background, an elite player-development experience with focus on competing in match-play and stroke-play formats.
Casper, the 1979 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain who also competed on a record-tying eight U.S. Ryder Cup teams, was excited to participate and has been overwhelmed by the whole experience.
"This is a special group of juniors who are getting an unbelievable opportunity this week at this Academy," said Casper, whose 23 ½ points are the most by any U.S. Ryder Cup player. "We are happy to play a small part in it, and hope we can leave a positive impression on them for their future and the future of our great game."
The trio also fielded questions from students and observed individual golf swings on the practice range.
South Florida PGA Section representative Jonah Wasserstrom of Hollywood, Fla., has only been on site since Monday, but has already learned a great deal about his game, what he does well and what he needs to work on going forward.
He also had the chance to have Finsterwald work with him individually on the practice range.
"This is a great opportunity for me but it's also a little nerve-wracking," said Wasserstrom "I want to impress these legends of the game so much, but I know that they are here to help, and they have so much already."
The Academy, a unique, once-in-a lifetime experience, celebrates the passion of the Ryder Cup, while inspiring participants to achieve greatness and to improve their lives through the game of golf.
As part of the 2010 United States Ryder Cup Team's outreach commitment, which has already impacted U.S-based organizations and students at colleges and universities nationwide, the team designated $50,000 each to create and support the Ryder Cup Junior Academy.
Throughout the week, the junior participants will be working on all aspects of golf, including full-swing, chipping, putting, iron play, club fitting and course management. They will also learn about specific strategies when competing in match play formats.
The Ryder Cup Junior Academy will be a seven-day program conducted annually each summer.
About The PGA of America
Celebrating its 95th year, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission of its founders: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in a multi-billion dollar golf industry.
By creating and delivering dramatic world-class championships and exciting and enjoyable promotions that are viewed as the best of their class in the golf industry, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. The PGA of America brand represents the very best in golf.