Highland Park golf center opens
Golf instructor Ollen Stephens hits a ball out of a sand pit and over a berm at The Golf Practice, a training facility that merges course realities with indoor practice. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
NAME: The Golf Practice
ADDRESS: 1546 Old Deerfield Rd., Highland Park
CONTACT: (847) 405-9800 or www.thegolfpractice.com
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:04AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Golfers who don’t want to idle away the off-season have a new resource at The Golf Practice’s new 7,000-square-foot training facility in Highland Park. The space allows golf students to improve their game in a controlled, yet course-like, setting.
“Golfers say the biggest distance in golf is from the practice range to the first tee,” said Peter Donahue, a veteran of the Professional Golf Association who founded the Green To Tee Golf Academy, and now The Golf Practice with partners Ollen Stephens and Chris Oehlerking.
“In order for players to really get better, the practice experience and the golf-course experience really have to be brought together,” said Donahue. “It is so easy to get into a good rhythm on the practice range.”
The new facility at 1546 Old Deerfield Road brings state-of-the-art analysis to each golfer’s techniques. In one alcove, Track Man radar technology provides quantifiable evidence of the golfer’s performance and improvement over time — measuring, for instance, the speed of the ball and the attack angle of the club when it makes ball contact. “In terms of feedback, it is about as sophisticated as it gets,” said Oehlerking.
There is video equipment that allows golfers to view their stance, stroke and swing projected onto a screen in front of them. The video also can be seen on another screen visible to parents or spouses who may be watching from the lounge. “This enables us to produce clips of the students that they can access in their ‘locker’ online,” said Donahue.
The indoor facility includes landscaped artificial turf that replicates a bunker to be conquered without landing in a sand trap, as well as a challenging green that puts even masterful putters to the test.
The coaching starts with an evaluation of the player’s experience level and goals for improvement.
“It could be a junior golfer saying, I want to make my high school team,” said Stephens. “It could be an adult golfer saying, I want to be Club Champion, Class B. It could be the new college graduate who just got a job with a firm that has a big golf program who says, I want to be able to hold my own and not be embarrassed.”
Women who enroll in the “She.Plays.Golf” program often want to be comfortable playing with their husbands or families. That program is geared to women who prefer to learn with friends in a social setting.