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Golf Instructor to the Stars: Tom Ward Captures Your Attention

Shane SharpBy Shane Sharp,

CHARLOTTE, N.C.- As a golf instructor, Tom Ward has taught the game to three U.S. Presidents, countless celebrities, the blind, the tragically unathletic, and the infinitely talented. Regardless of the student, his message is the same - relax and enjoy the game.

If Ward were a schoolteacher, he'd be Robin Williams' character from "Dead Poets Society." If he were a salesman, he'd be Arthur Miller's Willie Loman, a hardworker trying to peddle his wares, yet sincerely interested in his clients well being.

Fortunately, for his thousands of students, Ward is a golf instructor, and "unconventional" only begins to define his approach to the game.

The Dallas native, who splits his time between Texas and Mexico, is known for using trick shots to illustrate his belief that golf can be played outside of the proverbial box. For an outsider looking in, it's easy to pass this exercise off as self-aggrandizing tomfoolery. Those who know Ward know better.

"Trick shots for me are a means to capture people's attention and show them the only limits the have our in their minds," Ward says. "I work with many people with physical disabilities such as polio, loss of sight, and people with prosethics so I found that these people challenged me to become a better teacher by devising a way to walk in their respective shows so to speak."

The traditional, rigid approaches of the old school golf instructors drove Ward into the market niche he dominates today - improving players' games by lightening their mental and physical loads.

"I find golf instruction in general to be overcomplicated and too technical which can be problematic to the average golfer on many levels," Ward says. "If you present your information in a fun, easy to learn educational, yet entertaining manner you will keep your audience or individuals' attention."

Ward's sensitivity towards golfer's insecurities and his willingness to travel all over the world has endeared him to numerous celebrity golfers, including NBA, NHL and Major League baseball players. Ward says that it takes a special mentality to work with the stars, most of whom are seeking major improvements before entering high profile celebrity tournaments.

"I will tell you that almost every celebrity or high profile person I've worked with was highly motivated by one central factor and that is fear," Ward says. "They don't want to embarrass themselves which is understandable because of their background.

"Most of these people are sincere and driven because they have reached their goals in their respective careers so they tend to listen to what you say very intensely. Usually, I have only a short period of time to make adjustments based on their work schedules so we keep it simple as possible."

Serving as a golf instructor to the stars, alone, could provide Ward will all the income needed for a comfortable lifestyle. But one of the most unique aspects of Ward's personality is that he honestly believes that everyone should give something back to the game. Ward channels this belief through his passion for junior golf.

"Junior golf has a special place in my heart because I took up the game later in life (17) which now a days is ancient," he says. "I think it's important that you build a solid foundation in your swing as early on as you can because then when you get off periodically which we all do you can go back to basics which were laid down in the beginning similar to laying the foundation of your home which can weather a bad storm."

So many golf instructors today hunker down in one area, but Ward will never be accused of being a homebody. Historically, he has split his time between Dallas/Forth Worth, Mexico, and other popular golf destinations around the Southwestern U.S. As far as golf destinations go, Ward cites Mexico as one of the World's "sneaky" best golf meccas.

"Mexico has been a special place for me as I've lived down there periodically off and on for 20 years," he says. "There are some terrific golf courses that are world class like Isla Navidad and Tamarindo near Manzanillo, Mexico on the Pacific Ocean side. Puerto Vallarta is a booming golf destination as well. Cabo san Lucas, Ixtapa and Acapulco all have wonderful courses that I highly recommend."

Ward is also quick to give the nod to the Lone Star State for its Texas-sized arsenal of outstanding golf courses.

"Living in the Ft. Worth-Dallas area as a home base I can tell you there are some great layouts here to be enjoyed," Ward says. "The Cowboys Golf Club (pictured) just opened up in Grapevine which has an NFL theme as the Dallas Cowboys are partners and it's a good course with nice rolling terrain. Sky Creek Golf Club in Keller, and Texas Star in Euless are some others. Austin, and the hill country is a great place to visit."

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

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