South Carolina's Best Junior Golf Instructors

By:Bob Gillespie

Date:6/29/2018

What do the 2017-18 No. 1 golfer in the world, the 2017 RBC Heritage champion and the 2018 top NCAA women’s player have in common? All are from South Carolina – and all learned the game under the tutelage of South Carolina junior golf instructors.

Among the elite group of teachers is icon Jimmy Koosa, who first put a club in the hands of young Dustin Johnson, the 2016 US Open champion and multiple tournament winner. George Bryan III can claim his own son, Wesley, who became the first homegrown RBC Heritage champion in the tournament’s first 50 years. And then there's Kevin Britt, who groomed Lauren Stephenson, a star at powerhouse Alabama and the best women’s college player of 2017-18.

Today, some of the pioneers are grooming successors. Koosa has mentored more than a few new instructors, while Bryan’s golf academy is anchored by a former student. And the list goes on. Here are some of the best kids instructors, according to SC Junior Golf Association officials and others:

Matt Barton, Operation 36 Golf, Charwood Country Club, West Columbia

Works with veteran instructor Jimmy Koosa; US Kids Golf Foundation Certified Coach; Top 50 Kids Teachers, 2016 and 2017; emphasis is on teaching age-appropriate skills, fitness and nutrition.

(803) 851-6310; pgabarton@gmail.com


Kevin Britt, director of Kevin Britt Golf Academy, Spartanburg

Operates at the Country Club of Spartanburg; students include Lauren Stephenson, 2018 NCAA Women’s Player of the Year (University of Alabama); winner of the Carolinas PGA Section Junior Development Award for 2016.

(803) 261-9153


Chase Butler, head instructor of George Bryan Golf Academy,Chapin/Columbia

George Bryan Golf Academy student for 15 years; Class A PGA Professional; adjunct professor at University of South Carolina, College of Education; helped develop 2017 RBC Heritage champion Wesley Bryan.

(803) 319-2322; cbutlergolf@gmail.com;


Tim Cooke, director of instruction at The Sea Pines Resort Golf Learning Center, Hilton Head Island

Recognized as "Top 50 Instructor" by US Kids Golf; named to Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers (2010-2015); leads Elite Junior Golf Academy and Junior Golf Camp Presented by Cobra Puma.

(843) 842-1487; golflearningcenter@seapines.com


Tommy Jordan, River Hills Golf Academy, River Hills Country Club, Lake Wylie

More than 20 years teaching; started York County Chapter of the SC Junior Golf Association; formerly with Golf Masters.

(803) 487-7260


Dale Ketola, director of instruction/club fitting at Grande Dunes Performance Center, Myrtle Beach

Previously worked at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club and Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy; operates his own junior academy; 2017 nominee for Carolinas PGA Section Teacher of the Year and Carolinas PGA Section Player Development Award.

(843) 833-3332


Tom Mason, PGA professional, Par Tee Golf Center, West Columbia

Leads Columbia chapter of PGA Junior League; three-time winner of PGA President’s Council on Growing the Game; head golf coach at Columbia College.

(803) 796-5900


Matthew Okutsu, junior coordinator at Greenville Country Club, Greenville

Formerly junior instructor at Holly Tree Country Club in Greenville for US Kids Golf; specializes in junior clinics. Also teaches at Greenville Country Club.

(864) 233-6227 or (864) 672-1700; email: mokutsu@gccsc.com


Tommy Pendley, director of Tommy Pendley Golf Academy, The Links at Stoney Point, Greenwood

Director of Piedmont Junior Golf Association, a chapter of the South Carolina Junior Golf Association serving Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens, Saluda, Edgefield and Newberry counties.

(864) 942-0900


Dana Rader, LPGA Master Professional, Sea Pines Golf Learning Center, Hilton Head Island

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers in America since 1996; Golf Digest Top 50 Teachers in America, 2003-05 and 2008-18; offers individual instruction for juniors; past students include Cindy Song, 2017 US Kids World Champion (12-year-old group).

(843) 842-1487; golflearning@seapines.com


Daniel Seawell, professional/general manager of Houndslake Country Club, Aiken

Houndslake is home to the First Tee of Aiken, which provides youth with golf instruction and access to the game in the Central Savannah River Area; son of longtime golf professional and instructor Jackie Seawell.

(803) 648-6805; email: daniel@houndslakecc.com


Allen Terrell, director of coaching at Dustin Johnson Golf Academy, Myrtle Beach

Coached Dustin Johnson, world’s top-ranked player, at Coastal Carolina University; operated Terrell Golf Performance from 1997 until its merger with the Johnson Golf School in 2013; named to Golf Digest “Best Teachers” in South Carolina, 2017-18.

(843) 685-1519; allen@dustinjohnsongolfschool.com


Doug Weaver, director of golf instruction at Palmetto Dunes Resort, Hilton Head Island

Known as the “Golf Whisperer” for his skill at instruction; nearly two decades at Palmetto Dunes; ranked South Carolina’s No. 2 instructor by Golf Digest; named to Low Country Golf Hall of Fame in 2017; three-year US Kids Top 50 instructor.

(843) 785-1136


Paul Woodberry, director of instruction and junior golf at Florence Country Club, Florence

Former All-Southeastern Conference player at University of South Carolina; assistant golf coach at Francis Marion University; director of the SFC Junior Golf Association, Florence Chapter; Trackman Certified Instructor.

(843) 669-3554 or (843) 373-2258; paulwoodberry@gmail.com

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