Campers on par with local golf pro
By Joseph Garcia
He has worked with the likes of three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and 2003 US open winner and Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk. But last week, local PGA Professional David Edel ran the first ever golf camp for Liberty Hill students where they learned some of the same lessons as the big boys.
Edel and his wife, Barbara, had received ample interest from parents of Liberty Hill students for the summer camp, mainly at the junior high level, after only five kids were selected to play for the golf team this past year.
“I mainly go out on the PGA tour and work with people on an individual basis,” said Edel. “So this is something my wife said had so much interest from parents. A lot of kids tried out (for golf) but they didn’t make it. So I said let’s see if we can help the golf program here in Liberty Hill to where there is a foundation. To me, these guys are the future of golf.”
Over four days (June 25-29), seven campers made up of six junior high students and one intermediate school participant learned some of the basics and etiquette of the game.
For the first three days, Edel taught campers swing and putting techniques at the Crystal Falls Golf Club in Leander. He worked with the kids on how to release a golf club and how the club releases in relationship to the turn of their body out on the driving range.
On the third day, the campers spent most of their time on the practice putting green.
“Today was (about) things they can do on a putting green,” said Edel. “I wanted them to have an understanding of how to look at a golf green and how to understand slope and predictability of break and things like that.”
On the fourth day, the young campers got to play five holes on the picturesque public course that is nestled away in a Leander neighborhood. And while on the green, one of Edel’s teaching instruments was a metronome to aid campers with their rhythm.
“Anytime you are moving a lever back and forth, it’s governed by length, rate and time,” Edel meticulously explained. “If there is a metronome there you know if you’re either ahead or slow (whether) you tried to catch up or slowed down. (The green is) a great place for kids to learn and you can see that they really found it interesting because it was attainable and something that they actually felt like they could do.”
Incoming eighth graders Reese Merritt and Trevor Sandoval were quick to remember their teacher’s lessons.
“I mostly remember about the putting,” said Merritt. “(I will remember) the point of impact with the golf club and hip rotation.”
Sandoval added, “You are supposed to rotate your hips without moving your shoulders.”
Edel, owner of Edel Golf in Liberty Hill, which specializes in manufacturing handcrafted putters and wedges, enjoys working with the kids knowing the knowledge he imparts can be used for a lifetime. He is also trying to generate more interest in the sport around the Liberty Hill community.
“What I enjoy the most is knowing that I could have an influence on a kid that maybe would never play any other sport and that they could actually develop into a great golfer,” Edel said. “(Maybe) someday they would say, ‘if it wasn’t for that guy David I would never have started this game.’ That’s what you are after when you teach. Unfortunately, (golf) is probably one of the least supported programs in high schools and it’s the one that’s used the most throughout a kid’s life.
“Liberty Hill is such a football, baseball, basketball town and those aren’t all the sports that are out there. Even if it’s a club sport it could be something that could be developed into a really good program if someone helped gain some interest in it. And that’s kind of what I’m trying to do,” he said.
The PGA Pro who has worked with famous athletes such as 11-time NBA champ Bill Russell said he’s had the opportunity to learn from golf’s top minds when traveling the world to teach about his handcrafted putters and wedges.
Edel said he teaches at four of five education summits a year for the PGA of America.
He had dreams of making a living playing competitive golf, but an average short game held him back and as a result he began teaching the game. Over the years he studied swing mechanics and club fitting with renowned instructors and tournament players, including PGA Hall of Fame member Roberto DeVincenzo.
He has even rubbed elbows with royalty on the golf course with Prince Andrew of England, Duke of York.
“I’ve been fortunate with my career to have been around most of the best teachers in the world,” Edel said, humbly. “So what I’ve taught these kids isn’t anything I’ve invented. It’s all basically taking the bits and pieces of the good stuff and seeing the commonality of what they were all trying to say and convey. There are principles and laws to it all.”
Camper parent Tracie Ortega said that golf is a perfect sport for her son, Gunnar, who was the youngest participant in the camp entering the sixth grade. She said the camp was an outstanding opportunity for him to learn the game from a renowned golf pro like Edel.
“I have a child that’s not into football, basketball and baseball but loves golf,” Mrs. Ortega said. “Like Dave (Edel) said, once they learn it they can take it with them the rest of their lives. Parents like me are very supportive and excited about it. Gunnar every day would come home and talk about what he’s learned.”
And while golf has shown Edel the world, he wants to do what he can for the youth of Liberty Hill which is why he decided to put on the camp this summer. He would like to get the serene sport involved at Liberty Hill schools as well.
Ortega, who was a camp spectator as well, is one of many supporters.
“We are really hoping that having Dave in town the school district will come on board and really support a golf team at the junior high,” she said. “We are hoping with that start it will push through to high school and start a program at both schools especially with the new school coming.”
Edel said golf has shown him a lot of the world and life. His Hippocratic Oath is to help better the game of golf. One of those ways is by getting more kids involved and out to the course or greens and by teaching the fundamentals of golf.
He also has plans to continue to put on golf clinics and may not wait until next summer. And next time he might invite a few of his friends so campers will have more individual attention.
“I’d love to do it (again) and next time I’ll probably incorporate some more of my professional colleagues to come and help,” Edel said. “We can take it to the next level.”