ROSEDALE — PGA Golf Professional Steve Whidden will be the first one to tell you that no two days on the golf course will be the same.
It’s a lesson he learned when he first began swinging clubs as a child and one he has continually preached to his students each and every day since he started working as a golf instructor 17 years ago.
Now, the Sarasota resident is hoping to share that same advice with golf enthusiasts at Rosedale Golf and Country Club as the club’s new director of instruction.
“I knew I loved to play golf and every day is different, but teaching — that’s my passion,” Whidden said.
A native of Jamestown, N.Y., Whidden grew up playing golf — first on his high school golf team before going on to play at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. Whidden graduated in 1991 with a degree in communications and moved to Florida the following year.
Upon moving to Florida, Whidden didn’t intend to pursue golf as a career, but soon, the warm weather got the best of him. By 1993, Whidden was fully immersed in the sport. He became a licensed golf professional, which has allowed him to provide golf instruction while running courses. In 1995, Whidden earned his Class A ranking — the highest status for a golf professional.
Whidden has an extensive teaching background and has worked at a number of golf courses across the country, including Quail West Golf and Country Club in Naples, The Breakers in Palm Beach and most recently University Park Country Club, where he spent the past 12 years, among others.
Since joining Rosedale, Whidden has been busy finalizing plans for his new teaching program, The Learning Center at Rosedale. The Learning Center is designed for golfers of all ages, genders and skill levels.
“We’re excited,” Whidden said. “It’s going to be fantastic and one of the biggest selling points in my opinion is that our target is not just one type of player. We have programs for all ages, genders and abilities, so people will be hard pressed not to find something in there that’s perfect for them.”
Whidden began working on the program about two months ago after harboring a desire to form his own golf school.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own teaching academy and be in charge of a teaching operation at any club.”
The Learning Center will launch the first week of June with a variety of programs offered daily. Prices vary depending on the program’s type and length with the use of golf balls and clubs included in the cost. Programs include: “I’ve never played golf in my life,” Family Golf, Junior Lessons, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced Group Lessons, Grab A Friend and the “No Excuses” Clinic, among others.
In addition to programs and clinics, the Learning Center also features The School of Relaxed Golf, which includes half-day and two-day schools for first-time to advanced level golfers.
“We want to introduce everyone to all aspects of the game and then continue on with them,” Whidden said. “We really work hard to keep our students for as long as they want to (participate).
“I am not interested in becoming a huge conglomerate enterprise,” he added. “I’m interested in giving the members at Rosedale many more options than they’ve ever had before with the (availability) of flexible scheduling.”
For more information on the Learning Center at Rosedale, including a full listing of available programs and instruction, contact Steve Whidden at 756-004 or visit www.playgolfamerica.com or www.rosedalegcc.com.
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