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Croft starting golf academy
Recently, a golfer came to Mark Croft with a problem.
He's not a bad player, he assured Croft. He can hit the fairways on his drives and he can putt.
But try as he might, he couldn't chip to save his life.
Croft listened as the man told him that it got to the point where even if he's 100 yards from the hole, instead of pulling out a wedge he'd just use a putter.
“You got to be kidding me,” Croft said with a laugh.
“You can ask my wife,” the man replied. “I chip so poorly and I've done it so long that I will just use my putter and I've gotten pretty good at it.”
Croft had him chip a few balls, allowing Croft to size up and diagnose the problem. A few tips from the PGA professional later, the man's chipping woes were history.
“For years, I wanted to create a teaching facility that was dedicated 100 percent to teaching the game of golf,” Croft said. “I just really wanted to teach the game. I've done it for a thousand people and I want to do it for a thousand more.”
Croft partnered with Paul White from Las Barrancas and created the Yuma Golf Academy — which eventually turned into Mark Croft Golf. Currently he is doing lessons out of Las Barrancas, Rio Colorado on Fridays, the Foothills Par 3 and Foothills Executive Course. The mission did not begin without its hardships — mostly getting people in for the lessons.
“It started off pretty slow. Coming into Christmas, I was sitting on my couch scratching my head wondering if this really is a good idea. But it's picked up a lot of momentum since the New Year,” Croft said.
“The hardest part was just getting people in front of me. I can make a difference in somebody's golf game in five minutes. That's a pretty big claim for somebody to make, but I know I can do it because I've done it thousands of times.”
While Croft has experience dealing with talented golfers, he's adamant that the goal is more to help anybody — pros, average golfers or beginners.
“We're reaching out to women, we're reaching out to juniors, we're reaching out to families and that's what I wanted to do,” said Croft, who is planning to start a junior golf program. “Whether they're 2-handicappers or 32-handicappers or have never picked up a golf club in their life, that's what the golf academy is all about, to develop a better golf environment in the city of Yuma.
“You don't have to be that hardcore. I only play 18 holes — it's for everybody. Sometimes people are intimidated. ‘Oh, I'm not very good, I don't want to talk to a golf pro. He's going to laugh at me.'”
There was the married couple who recently came in for a lesson — the husband recently retired and the wife was suddenly his golf partner. The problem? She had never played before.
“There are people that are afraid or embarrassed or timid or shy, whatever you want to say. ‘Oh, I'm never going to be any good.' But that doesn't mean you have a miserable time doing it,” Croft said. “That doesn't mean when your friends call you on Wednesday and say let's go play golf you go, ‘I don't know. I'm not as good as a couple of them.' No, no, no.”
For more information, go to markcroftgolf.com or call Croft at 304-1008.
“It's for no other reason then the absolute love of the game of golf,” Croft said. “That's what it's all about.”