Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

GROVE- I wasn’t sure what to expect when Patricia island golf instructor Steve Pace invited me out for a golf lesson. I envisioned me hitting a bucket of ugly golf shots in the hot sun on the driving range while Steve kept shouted instructions and shook his head ruefully.

He did tell me more than once to keep my left arm straight. But instead of being out in the sun at five o’clock on another 95 degree June day, Steve waved me inside a metal building just across the parking lot from the clubhouse.

Inside was an air-conditioned space with artificial grass mats and nets strung along the walls. I didn’t even notice the two cameras pointed at me while a hit some shots with an 8-iron. After a few minutes of this Steve walked in and waved me over to a worn television on a tall cart with several VCRs and DVD players underneath.

Steve Pace decided to become a golf instructor 15 years ago. At the time he owned a successful business in Oklahoma City selling “Over the Hill” novelty products. But Pace had a plan to sell the business and go into golf instruction. The only problem was he couldn’t shoot the qualifying score necessary to become certified.

So before he could become a teacher he became a pupil.

“I’d been playing golf for years,” he said. “But I’d never taken a lesson. Within 15 minutes I had learned three things that made me a golfer.”

Pace now regularly shoots in the 70s, even though he’s been slowed in recent months by a broken wrist suffered in a February car accident.

“I had the mental, physical and emotional part of the game, but not the knowledge.”

After becoming certified as a golf instructor, Pace moved to the Grand Lake area and became a salesman and golf instructor at Shangri-La. After a little over two years there he moved to Patricia Island, where he’s been for the past six years.

“It’s been good for me and, I think, good for them.”

Pace offers a package of four golf lessons for $250. The lessons cover all aspects of the game and are adapted to the experience and skill level of the golfer.

“We take them from tee to green.”

Pace’s methods place a heavy emphasis on video instruction, in the firm belief that seeing is believing. I found this out when he called me over to the television. He then proceeded to draw all over my televised image in his best John Madden impersonation, pointing out where various body parts should be during a swing. Then, as we watched the tape, my head, arms and legs went completely outside, around and through the various lines and circles he had drawn.

But through it all Pace remained patient and upbeat, pointing out what I was doing right as well as what I was doing wrong.

We scheduled another lesson in a week. This is standard for Steve, who waits two weeks between lessons in order to give his students a chance to work on what they’ve learned.

I’d better get to practicing.