By Allison Guertin Columbia County Life - March 23, 2014

Ok, so this blog post is about golf. Wait. Before you skip ahead or turn this off I have to say this...I realized I'm not too old to learn something new. For reasons I'll discuss in later posts, I asked my friend Laura if she'd take a golf lesson with me. She said sure, and she said she could suggest a good golf pro not far from where we both live in Columbia County. His name is Lucas Cohen and he runs Start to Finish Golf in Claverack on Route 9H just before you get to the new Hannafords (we all need some landmarks). Anyway, I didn't think much about the golf thing. Actually, like most people, I thought it would be perfectly deadly, boring, ho-hum, what's all the fuss, a club, a ball...zzzzz. And Hey, I ride horses, that's about as thrilling as sports get as far as I am concerned. But I went because, well, I wanted to see what it was all about and take a turn at hitting those little balls right into their little cups.

Someone should have scrawled "NEWBIE" on my forehead when I arrived at the school. I didn't have a clue , but the pro was, let's say, was gentle. Laura on the other hand owns her own clubs, looks absolutely divine in her golf shirts and her swing, well, I was instantly humbled.

First dumb anti-golf thing I do is I stand too close to Laura as she's swinging her club. This is an absolute beginner no-no. I am politely directed to go ten steps backward. My first introduction to golf... I learn how not to die from being hit in the head by a metal club. The lesson had began. Lucas, the owner and pro is an absolute sweetie. He's tall and fit and he smiles the entire time he's teaching us. I thought he might be flirting, but realistically he's just enjoying his job. Who wouldn't! This is all about fun, chattering about the minutia of golf and yes, you can bring your own libations.

Anyway, I learned fast not to let Lucas' little boy image fool me. He means business out there because like most great instructors, he truly wants you to learn, get good at golf and have an absolute blast. We wanted that too.

After a brief "interview" with us...we got to stand and watch. I could see Laura out of the corner of my eye was itching to grab her massive wooden driver and whack a few balls way down the fairway, yet we agreed to listen patiently to Lucas.

He first taught us about alignment to the hole, and alignment of our body to the ball. He taught us the "athletic" stand and positioned us squarely on the green. He maneuvered our fingers into a proper grip. He taught us how to find the "target" how to 'clip the tee', but most importantly, he taught us how to 'finish in balance." For a newbie like me, this was basically a foreign language, but intriguing. I was taking it in mentally and physically. I wanted to go faster, get it quicker because basically, I'm a born competitor.

I place the blame for this squarely on my parents. I was raised behind an older sister and two older brothers who like most older brothers, were merciless in their torment as we all grew up together as teenagers in a small split level ranch house in a tiny town in Connecticut. So being good in sports goes back to the insane whiffle ball games we all used to have in the back yard, the not-really-touch/tackle football tournaments on the street in front of our house. In high school I competed in gymnastics, track and then volleyball. Then I made the varsity college volleyball team at Fordham. Later in New York City, I played some tennis, I ran races, and I took up riding seriously when I moved to the country. I enjoyed it I stand with an 8 iron in my hand readying for a new adventure.

Lucas' expert instruction continued. We finally get to approach the tee with our clubs, our perfect grips, our athletic stance, and place the little ball down readying to take a swipe at it. Lucas is now behind us taking photos (really unnerving by the way) and barking orders after keenly instructing and adjusting us for about a half hour. Laura and I want to finally have at it so we start hitting the ball. I'm pretty ok but I whiff a few times and Lucas comes over to show me something remarkable. When hitting the golf ball off the tee, it may look like you swing through the air and it flies off gracefully, but in reality, you kind of attack the turf under the tee so you can catch the ball from underneath. On tv you can't really see this happening, but I took his advice and hit "down" on the ball and though it felt totally awkward at first.... boy that made a difference. My ball got some air and that's supposed to be pretty good for a beginner. I started smiling a lot after that. We suddenly got the hang of it and soon my shots were gliding well beyond the target about 100 yards away. Cool!

That's me finishing in balance...

I have to say that golf is a little like gambling. Once you get the feeling of hitting through the ball and seeing it sail, you kind of get the itch to repeat that. Lucas is a great cheerleader. He loves to tell you you're "doing well" or you hit an "excellent shot." He's encouraging, yet he jumps up immediately if you break his mantra...look at the target, clip the tee, finish in balance. Repeat that three times. His keeping it simple really helped me learn. What I loved a lot about golfing is that it mimics yoga, really. I think it comes fairly naturally for me because when your in a yoga class, you're thinking about alignment, you're breathing as you move, you learn to relax your mind in stressful postures. Golf requires a lot of the same elements. Understanding where you body is in relationship to the earth is what yoga asks, golf is the same it just puts a ball in front of you and a club in your hand.

So listen up ladies. If you want to learn to golf, go to Lucas. He really knows golf, but more so, he really knows how to TEACH Golf. There's a difference. Your husband can try to instruct you, your boyfriend, your daughter or a friend. Maybe that tell you to loosen your hips, bend your knees, follow the ball. Well they would be wrong, and you need a pro like Lucas to tell you what's right. He makes it simple, he knows his stuff. He's kind, he's cute and doesn't waste your time. For a package of 5 one hour lessons (and by the way, you get this awesome pink polo if you buy the package) it's $225 if you do a semi-private, two people...I think that's pretty good. And you get Lucas all to yourself for an hour if you pay for the $400 package for private instruction.

Lucas is holding many events at his golf school in Claverack this summer. He's got spots open for lessons if you call and reserve. You can practice (and he likes when you practice) any time at his driving range, putting green, etc. on Route 9H. Ok, it's not like riding horses, but it's totally fun, social, athletic and interesting. Go golf with Lucas Cohen at Start to Finish Golf!

That's Laura Teeing off...


(855) GO-SWING
(855) 467-9464

New York Golf Park location

5490 Route 23 & 9H
Hudson, NY 12534   MAP

Grand Palms Resort location

110 Grand Palms Drive
Pembroke Pines, FL 33027   MAP