Going Deep At The Pebble Beach Golf Academy

Longtime Teacher Laird Small Puts Complete Learning First
pebble beach golf academy
pebble beach golf academy laird small
LAIRD SMALL (Photo by Randy Tunnell)

Editor’s Note: This story on the Pebble Beach Golf Academy originally ran in the Fall 2015 issue of Golf Tips Magazine

We all know it’s true: If we’re paying attention and passionate about what we do, we’ll gain a wealth of wisdom over the course of our lives. Laird Small, affable Director of Instruction at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy, is certainly a subscriber to this philosophy.

With a demeanor as calm and inviting as Stillwater Cove on a windless day, the man engages his students with an open mind and heart, as all good teachers do. Every individual lesson, corporate gathering or three-day group lesson brings a new story, a new adventure and new insight into how people absorb, process, practice and ultimately demonstrate, on the golf course, what it is to play a game that can’t be mastered, in a place that holds a magical and magisterial place in the American — and, indeed, worldwide — golf consciousness.

“I’m still learning stuff every single day,” he says. “If you’re not, go do something else. It’s a lot of fun.”

And now it’s more fun than ever for Small and his staff, thanks to a new facility built on a former multi-use parcel of land just across the street from the Peter Hay par 3 course.

“There were a few things the Pebble Beach Company had to check off its list before we could get to this,” Small said while looking out over the impressive, 50-spot practice tee with its many manicured target greens — a huge improvement over the old, cramped range just a few yards away, and a hit among both amateurs and the PGA Champions Tour Professionals who had commandeered it a few days earlier, during the Nature Valley First Tee Open (and the regular tour guys who take it over every February for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am).

“When we had a chance to build this place out, we looked at, ‘What do we do for a golf school? We want it for groups and individuals — and sometimes individuals who are part of a group.’”

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