A Top-Flight Teacher
Nobody does it better than Rebecca Dengler.
A PGA and LPGA teaching professional since 1991, Rebecca Dengler initially thought golf was a ridiculous sport. “I played all sports growing up, and after finishing a two-year degree, my parents presented me with a set of clubs,” Dengler says.
So she played a lot of golf while finishing her four-year degree. She eventually became skilled enough to qualify for the Public Links Championship. But all along, Dengler knew teaching golf would become her passion and profession.
Dengler was named one of the 50 Top Teachers by the LPGA, Golf Digest and Golf for Women magazines for 2008-2009. She had also previously been named No. 1 teacher in Delaware by Golf Digest.
“I can’t imagine trying to play and teach,” says Dengler, who conducts a variety of classes out of Wilmington’s Ed Oliver Golf Club, where she has been based for the past 18 years. “I find learning and teaching golf fascinating. It’s the one sport where the mind initiates the action on a stationary ball rather than reacting to a moving one.”
Dengler teaches all types of learners, from children and working women to single-digit male players and competitive juniors—even amputees.
She doesn’t have one particular method of teaching. “I don’t believe golf lends itself to a one-way-fits-all approach,” she says.
She says many teaching methods emphasize an overly complex approach to the golf swing. Her goal is to simplify the perception of the swing.
“It’s the same sequence as batting and throwing in baseball,” she says.
Dengler recently completed the Titleist Performance Institute’s intensive Level I certification for health fitness, which teaches fitness screening and exercises designed to improve golf-specific motions.
In her classes, Dengler starts with the simple, then gradually moves to more complex instruction. She emphasizes short game skills, which comprise half of her teaching program.
Dengler says many golfers have experienced such frustration in learning that they give up the game.
“They’ve been taught that to get better you have to get worse first,” she says. “I promise to teach differently.”
Page 2: A Professional’s Amateur | Buddy Marucci maintains his love for the game by keeping it in its place–and wracking up quite a record at the same time.
A Professional’s Amateur
Buddy Marucci maintains his love for the game by keeping it in its place—and wracking up quite a record at the same time.
Buddy Marucci recalls sort of liking golf when his father first put a club into his six-year-old hands. But Marucci remembers clearly the moment when he knew his career would be in business and not professional golf.
“I was a good enough player to earn a scholarship onto the University of Maryland golf team,” Marucci says. “I loved the game by then, but playing against the likes of [Tom] Kite, Lanny Wadkins and [Ben] Crenshaw in college tournaments, I realized they were just so much better than I was.”
He also realized he enjoyed the academic side of college, so he pursued a business degree, graduating in accounting in 1974. He then went about the work of establishing a career in accounting and finance, while “playing in amateur club tournaments when time allowed.
“I qualified for several U.S. Amateur Championships throughout the ’70s, but when I switched to sales around 1980, I found I had more flexible time to devote to golf,” Marucci says.
His trophy case began to fill up accordingly. From 1979 through 1991 Marucci was Pennsylvania State Amateur champion four times and Philadelphia Amateur champion twice. Then came the dramatic showdown with the young Tiger Woods in the finals of the 1995 U.S. Amateur. Marucci was runner-up to Tiger’s second consecutive championship victory, but he recalls tougher matches prior to facing Tiger in the finals.
“I had a 19-hole match with Tim Jackson, and needed 21 holes against Chris Tidland and 19 against Steve Scott before advancing,” Marucci says. “Tiger had already won five consecutive amateur titles and was physically just a fabulous player. Even then, his distances were prodigious.”
Losing to Woods was certainly no source of shame to anyone who’s tangled with him, and in Marucci’s case it was good enough to be named to the 1995 and 1997 U.S. Walker Cup teams. Overall, Marucci has qualified for more than 50 USGA amateur championships. In 2008, he reached his pinnacle in amateur golf by winning the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.
A longtime member of fabled Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Buddy served as both a board member and as chairman of the Greens Committee. Current Merion president Rick Ill says Marucci’s background in accounting and finance served the club well during Marucci’s service on the Merion Board. “He was instrumental in helping the club maintain its financial stability during his tenure,” Ill says.
Marucci’s selection as captain of the 2007 and 2009 U.S. Walker Cup teams was also an occasion for a win-win for both Marucci and Merion, when the club was chosen to host the 2009 tournament.
“Buddy worked very hard to make sure that Merion put on one of the best Walker Cups in its history,” Ill says.
He also worked very hard with his team, which went on to capture both championships that Marucci captained. “Buddy represents Merion well by his continued good play around the country and his accomplishments reflect with pride on our club,” Ill says.
In spite of his achievements as an amateur player, Marucci points to those two Walker Cup captaincies as “the nicest thing I’ve been able to do in golf.”
After a successful career as an accountant, stockbroker, real estate developer and luxury automotive dealer, Marucci sold Wilmington-based Penmark Automotive Enterprises in 2007 and “retired.” He now splits his time between Florida and the home he maintains in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Married to wife Sandra and father to 30-year-old son Trey (an accomplished college player at the University of Pennsylvania), the 57-year-old Marucci wants to work another eight to 10 years and play in senior amateur events around the country. As his age indicates, he eschewed any temptation to play on the senior Champions Tour.
“It wasn’t for me,” he says. “I believe I would have lost a lot of affection for the game had I tried it. I’ve realized for a long time that I love work more than I would like trying to make golf work for me.”
Page 3: Golf by Numbers | Keeping a record of your shots will improve your game. Promise.
Golf by Numbers
Keeping a record of your shots will improve your game. Promise.
Montana Thompson caddied for Billy Mayfair on the pro tour. Tour caddies, he says, feed club information to an organization that digitally records every shot by every player in every tournament.
Though regular golfers would not have access to such technology for their own stats, keeping track of your play on a simple Excel spreadsheet will help you improve the quality of your game, as well as the enjoyment.
“I’m an average player. That’s all,” Thompson says. “But I’ve taken my handicap from an 18 to a 10 primarily by playing more often, but also recording a hole-by-hole record of how I’ve played a particular round.”
Thompson says that keeping a record of your play helps determine which aspects of the game are working for you and, more important, which aren’t.
“The spreadsheet helps me to set new goals for each time I play,” Thompson says. “If I know I hit 10 greens in regulation last time out, then I can set a goal to try and hit 11 or 12 next time. It helps keep the game interesting and fresh each time you play.”
Thompson advises starting with something simple and easy to maintain. “Most club players want to know how many putts they’ve had and how many fairways they’ve hit. Record those stats as well as your actual score for each round, and you’ll have a pretty clear idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the major parts of the game.
“It’s just very satisfying to be able to look over your records and see how well you are improving,” he says.
Page 4: Players of the Year | Who’s tops in GAP and DSGA?
Players of the Year
Who’s tops in GAP and DSGA?
James Kania Jr.
is the William Hyndman III Player of the Year for the Golf Association of Pennsylvania. The 20-year old junior at the University of Kentucky began the year by advancing out of U.S. Open Local Qualifying in May 2009. He missed the championship field by five shots at the sectionals. After qualifying for the Pennsylvania Open Championship, Kania went on to win the Patterson Cup at Llanerch Country Club, making him part of the first father-son duo to achieve victory in that event.
was named Senior Player of the Year by GAP after exploding to the top of the standings by winning the Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup at Philadelphia Country Club. Jay Howson Jr. won Super Senior honors by virtue of consecutive victories in the Brewer Cup, Chapman Memorial and Senior Amateur. Edward McCrossen Jr. of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club captured the Junior title. The Chestnut Hill Academy senior made it to the quarterfinals of the Junior Boys’ Championship and lost a sudden death playoff in the Christman Cup before winning the Jock MacKenzie Memorial.
of Hartefeld National Golf Club is the 2009 Player of the Year for the Delaware State Golf Association. Currently competing on the University of Delaware’s golf team, Martinson laid claim to the award with a second-place finish in the Delaware Amateur, then winning the Delaware Open by six shots.
of Cavaliers Country Club is DSGA’s 2009 Super Senior Player of the Year. Surtees enjoyed several great finishes, including a third in the Senior Championship. Eagle Creek Country Club’s Mason Mendoza won Junior Player honors with a strong finish in the Delaware Open followed by a loss in a sudden death playoff in the Delaware Junior Championship.
Page 5: Practice and Pilates | New Improvements to an old style of exercise will make your game better than ever.
Practice and Pilates
New improvements to an old style of exercise will make your game better than ever.
When West Chester, Pennsylvania, resident Christopher Datz, a 15-handicapper, suffered two herniated discs in 2006, he found playing golf to be difficult and painful.
Admittedly overweight, he took the advice of his physician and acquaintances by signing up with Meghan Jackson’s Pilates Body Center in West Chester. After 90 days, Datz’s flexibility and range of motion had improved so much, he was hitting the ball noticeably farther.
“I was better balanced, and my improved core strength allowed me to make a better shoulder turn,” Datz says. “Pilates also helped me to focus better mentally, and that helped me concentrate better out on the golf course.”
Jackson was not surprised. For her, Pilates provides excellent training for what has to be accomplished in golf.
“Pilates is about balancing overall body strength and flexibility,” Jackson says. “Working with golfers, I can see how the balance and flexibility aspects of Pilates can help produce a better swing.”
Mara Raskin, principal instructor at Vital Pilates in Wilmington, Delaware, says the Pilates method helps create long, lean muscles, instead of the bulky type that come from lifting free weights.
“Longer, leaner muscles help you get the strength and flexibility you need to increase clubhead speed and improve timing and release during the golf swing,” Raskin says.
Raskin says Pilates equipment, known as the “apparatus,” helps you to access muscles that can’t be reached with other exercise machines.
“We can reach the muscles that your big muscles block you from accessing,” she says. “This is important from the balance perspective, since golf overemphasizes one group of muscles over another.”
Page 6: Practice and Pilates, continues…
This generally results, of course, in what many average golfers refer to as “grooving their swing flaws.” By balancing all muscle groups, Pilates can help you break the muscles’ memory of swing flaws.
If Pilates sounds a bit technical, it is. The original Pilates method has recently been improved through development of Stott Pilates, which is based on exercise science, kinesiology and physiology that was unknown when Joseph Pilates founded his method during World War I.
“Stott is more accommodating of different physical limitations, such as people with joint replacements, for instance,” Raskin says.
One longtime golf instructor, Adz Kozlowski of Unreal Golf Instruction in Philadelphia and Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, learned firsthand the benefits of Pilates for students.
“Two young women came to me for instruction,” Kozlowski says. “I told them how I wanted them to set up for a proper stance over the ball. I had never had two students who did it so perfectly the first time. They both said it came naturally from their Pilates training, so, yes, I am a big believer in Pilates.”
As training for the swing itself, Kozlowski believes in using chains, but not the kind that may restrict a natural golf swing, which many instruction methods still employ.
“The key to a powerful golf swing is swing speed,” Kozlowski says. “And swing speed is created by firing your fast-twitch muscles in the proper sequence to maximize clubhead speed and, thus, power. That’s how the pros do it.”
Kozlowski uses the flexibility of chains to teach the student the proper feel for the swing. “If your fast-twitch muscles are not firing properly, you will not be able to control the movement of the chain,” he says. “I call my method speed first, because it goes against the traditional teaching method of getting students to slow down their swing. That’s not how you generate power.”
Overcoming physical limitations is the next step in improving your game. Choosing an instructor and program dedicated to fitting your personal capabilities to a respectable game is not as easy as you might think.
“There is a tendency today to continue to overemphasize the swing, as opposed to the proper application of the club for the particular shot you have to hit,” says John Dunigan, head of instruction at Hartefeld National in Avondale, Pennsylvania. “I teach my students how to play, how to hit a variety of shots from many different lies and from balls that are above and below your feet. The same swing will simply not accomplish what you want it to accomplish if the conditions of the lie are different.”
Dunigan, who practices yoga, is also a big proponent of Pilates. He sees it helping to improve a golfer’s range of motion.
“Increasing the player’s range of motion broadens the area in which I can work to help that golfer improve and reach the next level,” he says.
Many of his students have been doing just that, with some eight scholarships being awarded, along with a quiver full of local and regional championships to their credit.
What these trainers are telling us is that to have a better golf swing, we need to get ourselves in better shape. Pilates first, golf lessons second.