Golfing Magazine Online -
Lake of Isles, North Stonington, Connecticut,-North-Stonington,-Connecticut/Page1.html
Tom Landers
By Tom Landers
Published on 10/25/2006

Lake of Isles Golf Academy and Foxwoods Resort & Casino

Over 50% of golfers are unable to break 100 on a regular basis.  The reason for this is simple: Golf is a difficult game.  To help make it easier, Lake of Isles has introduced the Golf Academy for everyone from novices to scratch golfers.  The program is led by a trio of particularly terrific teaching pros—Sue Cart, Derek Hooper, and Robbie Leming.

The Lake of Isles Golf Academy has everything you could need to improve your game: one of the most exhaustive practice facilities in the country that includes multiple putting greens, short game areas, and a seemingly-endless driving range.  The places to play are plentiful, but there are enough places to golf on the East Coast.  It takes more than square acreage to be effective, and Lake of Isles delivers.  The Golf Academy touts one of the most technologically advanced schools in the country, with launch monitors, video swing analysis, mirrored walls, and indoor heated stalls that can be used even in the winter.  The variety of the programs offered even matches the breadth of the facilities.

One-day, two-day, and three-day schools, as well as a summer junior golf program, exist to give golfers even more choices than a tourist wandering between blackjack, roulette, and craps tables.
Each of Lake of Isles’ pros is very well-rounded in their teaching ability.  From putting to chipping to ballstriking, each offers consistently helpful advice that can change your game almost immediately.

Despite being a golf writer, the fact that I normally shoot in the mid-90’s and never received formal instruction made me the perfect test subject for the new Lake of Isles Golf Academy.  Our day began on the putting green with a string of 10-foot putts.  I made about 40% of them, until Derek came over to give me a tip.  He had been watching me, and noticed that I didn’t stand directly over the ball.  He told me to move slightly closer to the ball so that my eyes were right over it.  I then hit two putts with him watching—both dead center into the cup.

Next up was chipping.  Sue immediately gave me a tip that I put to use.  Instead of taking my normal stance, I should close my stance and put all of my weight on my front foot.  I saw results instantly.  It felt like I could chip it close every time!  My problem was one that many golfers have: I was too wristy, so my short game lacked consistency.  Robbie showed me how to use my arms to swing almost like a putter, thereby taking my wrists out of the equation.  Finally, Sue suggested using different clubs for different situations around the green.  Whereas I used to only use my pitching wedge for chips, I now used my 8-iron and sand wedge with great success.

On to the driving range, and the biggest weakness in my game—accuracy.  Could anything cure my terminal case of slicitis?  As it turns out, yes.  We began hitting without any personalized instruction, just so our teachers could see what they were working with. Unbeknownst to me, Derek was taking a video of my swing, and he called me over to have a look.  Let me take a moment to describe my swing, just so you can try to visualize it.  I keep the ball off my front foot when driving the ball, and swing with enough force to kill a small to medium-sized animal.  My friend’s dad once commented that I looked like I was “swinging the hammers of Hell.” My swing is the antithesis of that of Fred Couples or Ernie Els, golfers known for their relaxed, easy-looking swings.  Derek had a few ideas to help me.  First, my left hand was gripping the club incorrectly.  He showed me how to rotate my hand to where it needed to be, and although it was uncomfortable at first, it clearly worked. He then instructed me to stop lifting my foot so much on my backswing, and to keep my weight on my back foot.  Most importantly, he taught me that power is gained not from arm strength, but from upper body torque.  Rather than use my arms to generate all of my power, I should turn my body more, and explode into the ball. Finally, he placed the ball slightly inside my left foot instead of just in front of it.  I took a few swings, and although it took some getting used to, I eventually began to hit the ball straight.

It’s one thing to hit the ball well on the range, and another to execute on the course.  Two days after leaving Lake of Isles, I flew down to the Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate and shot two 87s (my new personal best) on a couple of very challenging courses. Using the advice I received at Lake of Isles, I drove the ball better than I have before, hitting more than 50% of the fairways, and making seven putts from over 20 feet.  Each phase of my game was improved, and it’s all thanks to Lake of Isles.  I know there are plenty of skeptics out there when it comes to receiving golf instruction (after all, I was one of them), but if you’re serious about improving, then you really should give Lake of Isles a chance.  In one day’s worth of instruction, I took about eight strokes off of my average, and the fundamentals I learned were both easy to implement and easy to remember. No matter what part of your game is broken, The Golf Academy at Lake of Isles can fix it.