Suttie uses unique philosophy at Jeremy Ranch
Decorative golf teacher believes game can grow in Park City
It takes a great deal of mental strength to play golf, which means the sport can be frustrating for beginners.
Sometimes, the ball hooks far off the course. The next hit may fade left to the opposite side. Other times, one could struggle to simply get the ball in the air.
Jim Suttie has seen such problems throughout his years as a golf teacher, which is why he wants to remedy issues novice players experience. He will do so at Jeremy Ranch Golf Course, one of three academy locations in the country that he offers lessons.
“I try to keep it simple,” Suttie said of his lessons. “You find the causes that maybe result in five to six different things. I look at the causes and build from there.”
Suttie is no stranger to the sport and has been recognized for his efforts as a teacher. After playing all four years of his undergraduate career at Northern Illinois University, Suttie obtained his master’s in kinesiology while staying on the golf team’s staff as an assistant coach. He then continued his career of coaching at Eastern Kentucky University, where he was named Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 1976.
After another coaching stop, Suttie decided to obtain a doctorate from Middle Tennessee University, where he studied the model golf swing.
“I looked at 50-plus players on the PGA Tour and came up with the average of their swing in 10 positions with high speed film,” Suttie said. “I’ve always been one of the leaders in the use of film and video and graphics and side-by-side comparison.”
Suttie made a brief return to coaching at Northwestern University and Florida Gulf Coast University after securing his doctorate, but knew he wanted to get back into teaching. His philosophy stems from his research. Simply put, Suttie doesn’t believe any two golf swings are the same.
He takes his belief into each golf lesson, and it’s proven successful throughout his career, he said. Instead of trying to teach everyone a unified swing, Suttie, the 2000 PGA National Teacher of the Year, tries to find what works for the athlete, building from his or her strength.
“You have to find what they can do and then emphasize that and push that and keep encouraging them,” Suttie said. “I’ve worked with probably 75 [PGA Tour] players over the years. I haven’t seen one that looked like another one. There’ll be some guys who have high swings, some guys who have low swings. Some guys have fast dips, [while] some have slow dips.
“My whole philosophy is to try to match up those swing elements that fit the individual style of play.”
For beginners to the game, Suttie preaches baby steps. Some golfers who are jumping into the game might want to start swinging away as hard as possible, but that won’t happen if one takes a lesson with Suttie.
“We try to develop a concept of what a swing is and do half swings to start the first lesson,” he said. “Some swings will be without a ball, and then you bring the ball in. Many beginners are afraid to take lessons because they just feel they’re so bad, but if you go at it slowly and progressively and build them up to where they feel comfortable, they’ll be fine.”
For most of his career, Suttie hasn’t ventured from the coast much. His two original Academy locations are in Naples, Florida and Lake Forest, Illinois, but last year, he added the Jeremy Ranch Golf Course to the mix.
In addition to his wife having kids who live in the area, Suttie found the Park City area to be a welcome addition.
“Last summer, I kind of looked around and [it] seemed to be a good place to teach,” Suttie said. “I haven’t been to the West at all. I’ve always been around the Midwest and Florida, basically. I kind of wanted to see what it was all about, I guess.”
While admitting there is work to be done here, Suttie, who will most likely venture to his other locations during Park City’s winter months, sees the possibility for the game to grow in the area.
“It looks like they do like golf here, especially in the summer time,” Suttie said. “I think there’s a lot of potential for people who want to get better. I thought it might be a good place to do things. Jeremy Ranch is a very, very nice situation.”
Suttie offers lessons to members and non-members of the Jeremy Ranch Golf Course. For those interested, visit jimsuttie.com for the correct information to sign up.
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