‘Dr. Golf’ has the cure for a poor showing on the links

January 31, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Peggy Conley, or Dr. Golf as she is known to her students, enjoys a good project.

So, when it comes to her students, the instructor at The Golf Club at Newcastle prefers the ones whose golf games leave little to be desired.

“I particularly like people that are really bad and that have played for a long time, because, for example, I can cure a slice in just 10 minutes,” she said of the shot that often haunts amateur golfers.

ContributedFormer professional golfer Peggy Conley (right) helps Dr. Phil Young perfect his golf swing during a lesson at The Golf Club at Newcastle.

Former professional golfer Peggy Conley (right) helps Dr. Phil Young perfect his golf swing during a lesson at The Golf Club at Newcastle.

Conley is no stranger to the ups and downs of a golf game, having played the sport nearly her entire life. Several of those years were spent as a professional on the LPGA Tour and the European Tour.

She found a home on the European Tour, where she had the opportunity to tour the continent while playing the game she loved. Conley had planned to play until she was 50, but that plan was derailed when she was injured in a car accident.

After it became apparent that her pro career was over, Conley began teaching, learning from the best at a John Jacobs golf school, one of the world’s best institutions in golf instruction.

It was there that she acquired the necessary tools to help further others’ golf games, while gaining insight into certain aspects that may have helped her own.

“If people understand why the ball does what it does, that is huge,” she said. “It takes the frustration away. That’s the thing I learned while teaching for John Jacobs that I wasn’t very smart about when I was actually playing.”

Conley taught at several golf courses across the country, in places such as Arizona and California, before returning to her Northwest roots in 2000 as an instructor at the Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish.

The Spokane native and University of Washington graduate then became an instructor at The Golf Club at Newcastle in 2004, where she has been since.

Conley doesn’t have a particular teaching technique or style that she adheres to, because each golfer is different, she said.

“I teach people to golf, I don’t teach golf to people,” she said.

She does, however, apply the principles of impact, or what happens at the ball, which is a staple of the John Jacobs schools.

“You can have a swing like Jack Nicklaus, Jim Furyk or Rory McIlroy. They all look different, but at the ball, at impact, they are pretty darn good,” she said. “It’s a real interesting way to teach because most people teach form. But if you improve impact, you improve form.”

Conley, a Newcastle resident, teaches golfers of all ages and skill levels. She has so many students that she said she couldn’t even begin to fathom how many there are.

When Conley’s not at the golf course giving lessons, though she is available every day, you can find her manning the cash register at the Newcastle Fruit and Produce stand.

That position in and of itself was a project, Conley said, as she struggled to get the hang of doing something that was so out of her comfort zone when she took the job a few years ago.

But it’s all good now, Conley said — she has enough of a grasp on the function of the cash register that she could probably teach her golf students about that, too.


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