Editor’s Note: This story on the Pebble Beach Golf Academy originally ran in the Fall 2015 issue of Golf Tips Magazine
We all know it’s true: If we’re paying attention and passionate about what we do, we’ll gain a wealth of wisdom over the course of our lives. Laird Small, affable Director of Instruction at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy, is certainly a subscriber to this philosophy.
With a demeanor as calm and inviting as Stillwater Cove on a windless day, the man engages his students with an open mind and heart, as all good teachers do. Every individual lesson, corporate gathering or three-day group lesson brings a new story, a new adventure and new insight into how people absorb, process, practice and ultimately demonstrate, on the golf course, what it is to play a game that can’t be mastered, in a place that holds a magical and magisterial place in the American — and, indeed, worldwide — golf consciousness.
“I’m still learning stuff every single day,” he says. “If you’re not, go do something else. It’s a lot of fun.”
And now it’s more fun than ever for Small and his staff, thanks to a new facility built on a former multi-use parcel of land just across the street from the Peter Hay par 3 course.
“There were a few things the Pebble Beach Company had to check off its list before we could get to this,” Small said while looking out over the impressive, 50-spot practice tee with its many manicured target greens — a huge improvement over the old, cramped range just a few yards away, and a hit among both amateurs and the PGA Champions Tour Professionals who had commandeered it a few days earlier, during the Nature Valley First Tee Open (and the regular tour guys who take it over every February for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am).
“When we had a chance to build this place out, we looked at, ‘What do we do for a golf school? We want it for groups and individuals — and sometimes individuals who are part of a group.’”