Golf

Diamondhead’s Smith named Golf Teacher of the year

Hoppy Smith
Hoppy Smith Submitted

One call. That’s all Hoppy Smith wanted his entire PGA life. The PGA Gulf States Section awarded Golf Academy of Diamondhead’s Hoppy Smith the title he’s been working toward for 20 years, Teacher of the Year.

The innovative instructor who has called Diamondhead home since 1996 is proud to have his name teed off with James Leitz, Rob Noel, Brian Manzella and V. J. Trolio.

“Maybe when I finally come down from this cloud it may sink in,” said Smith. “Didn’t mean to make this sound like an Academy Award acceptance speech,” he quipped.

For golf instructors, PGA of America awards are the Oscars, but lowering handicaps are the ultimate roles for those learning center denizens who just want to make the game more fun for every level of player. Smith started helping golfers the first day he started at the Broadwater Sun Course in 1993 under PGA member Kenny Hughes.

Smith’s work tees off every day on local courses.

“It’s been a privilege to be able to work with Hoppy Smith these past couple years,” said William Carey’s Conner Entriken. “Couldn’t ask for a better swing coach.” Smith took Entriken into his studio while he was playing for MGCCC and turned him into a highly-ranked collegiate player.

That’s the overwhelming sentiment of juniors, amateurs and seniors who open the door to Hoppy’s teaching center at Diamondhead Country Club, where students will find an array of teaching aids. Smith is always looking for the latest in technology and the most helpful support to help make a difficult game fun for his students.

The Golfing Machine Certified Swing Catalyst integrates physics with common sense to “make swings better” and to help golfers help themselves.

“My biggest challenge is to take the geometry of the swing and relate it to the player.” He beams when a golfer says, “I played terribly on the front, but I watched the ball flight and fixed it on the back.”

The Diamondhead Director of Instruction and Player Development will certainly mention many people when he thanks the academy for his PGA of America Gulf States Section 2016 Teacher of the Year award, but he’ll also reference his alignment rods and impact bags, his aids of choice. His students will simply just say thanks for helping them with the game they love.

Tommy Snell, golf coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, writes a column for the Sun Herald.

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