Jack Nicklaus Golf Academies, which continues to reinforce Jack’s mission to grow the game worldwide and do so with quality instruction, has opened a new facility in Mexico. Located at the Nayar Vidanta course in Nuevo Vallarta, the Nicklaus Academy is the third in Mexico and one of 24 training facilities in nine countries under the Nicklaus Academy banner, with as many as eight scheduled to open in the next 18 months.The academy opened in July to dazzling reviews from PGA pros, avid golfers and weekend players whose games stand to benefit most from the elite instruction and training program. Tucked inside sprawling Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, which boasts the Grand Luxxe, Grand Mayan and five more resorts, the academy gives visitors the added luxury of shaving strokes off their score while vacationing in paradise.
“I think I have found heaven… and in Nuevo Vallarta of all places,” said Leon Shwetz, a visiting golfer. “The new Nicklaus Academy is unbelievable. I now have a place to come to get out of the cold or the heat, and just work on my golf game as much as I can stand.”
Golfer Mark DeWald took a 2-hour flight from Phoenix for the grand opening, and he wasn’t disappointed.
“I came here with the expectation of seeing another driving range with some teaching aids and the standard stuff,” he said. “That wasn’t the case. The range is huge with all sorts of targets and trees to hit at or around. The short game area was one of the largest I have seen. But the really cool part was the climate-controlled coaching studios that allow you to escape the heat, sun or rain while taking a lesson.”
The academy experience includes tactical evaluation, on-course instruction and mental and physical evaluation and training programs. The lighted driving range is designed with seven strategically placed target greens, complete with bunkers and palm trees, creating a realistic visual for the golfer working to cut strokes off his or her score.
“You feel like you are on a course,” said Mike Malaska, the Nicklaus Academies’ Worldwide Director of Instruction and the PGA of America’s 2011 National Teacher of the Year. “The backdrop from the tee is the [Sierra Madre] mountains. Not the golf course, buildings or houses, but a mountain. This is the perfect setting to work on your full swing, your short irons, and your complete game.”
Ted Simons, Executive Vice President and COO of Nicklaus Academies, called the new facility “one of the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world.”
“The short game training and practice area is a dream come true,” Simons added. “The oversized putting green, and the oversized chipping, pitching and bunker areas provide the opportunity to practice virtually any shot you might come across during a round of golf. The practice areas are complete with a variety of uphill, downhill and sidehill lies. Anyone interested in developing a solid and consistent short game area does not have to go anywhere but here.”
The facility’s Director of Instruction is Bruce Summerhays, Jr., a PGA professional from Utah whose father Bruce played on the PGA and Senior PGA Tours.
“This academy is really more of a golf experience than a practice area,” Summerhays said. “The beginner can not only enjoy the incredible atmosphere, but can feel confident that he or she is receiving the best quality instruction.”
Summerhays said the early feedback from guests has been encouraging. One visitor from California emailed Summerhays to thank him for changing his family’s attitude toward golf.
“I have been trying to get the rest of my family involved in golf. A lesson with you has everyone excited about playing.”
The Nicklaus Academy is open to members and guests of Vidanta Resorts as well as residents and visitors to Puerto Vallarta. Customized lesson packages for individuals, groups and juniors are available for all ability levels. Golfers can test their rejuvenated games on the Nayar course, which reopened last year after an extensive renovation by Nicklaus Design. For additional information on the academy, please visit www.nicklausacademies.com. For more information on golf at the Nayar course, please visit www.vidantagolf.com.