Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Player Becomes the Teacher: Doug Weaver of Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Weaver, a former PGA Tour pro, longtime director of instruction at Hilton Head Island’s Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, knows what it takes to make it at golf’s highest level

(HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.) — Doug Weaver knows golf, particularly Hilton Head Island golf, as well as anyone.

A former PGA Tour professional, Weaver has for years served as the highly respected director of instruction at Hilton Head’s venerable Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. His free Monday golf exhibition every week is one of the resort’s many popular attractions.

Improving your golf game is something very important to Weaver, a man once best known as the answer to a trivia question.

As a PGA Tour rookie in 1989, during a breathtaking span of one hour and 50 minutes, Weaver became one of four U.S. Open contenders at Oak Hill Country Club to ace the sixth hole. (Nick Price, Jerry Pate and Mark Wiebe were the other three; Weaver got his first.)

The event became the highlight of a what-might-have-been professional career for Weaver, who first moved to Hilton Head as a 17-year-old prep athlete to attend the Sea Pines Academy.

He later played at Furman University alongside a guy named Brad Faxon, but when graduation rolled around, Weaver wasn’t confident about his chances on the PGA Tour.

He moved back to Hilton Head, manned the bag drop of the Robert Trent Jones course at Palmetto Dunes, and pondered his future.

“I would play in amateur tournaments, get frustrated and say, ‘I don’t won’t to play anymore,’” Weaver said.

Instead, Weaver went to work for long-time local realtor Phil Schembra. The two helped found the Hilton Head Island Intercollegiate Golf Tournament at Palmetto Dunes, which later grew to become the Golf World Intercollegiate, one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country at the time.

It was during his three years selling timeshares for Dunes Marketing Group that Weaver found his focus.

“I matured a lot,” he says. “I grew up a lot and became a Christian. God got hold of my mind and taught me how to think about myself. It gave me a more positive outlook about my future. I knew it was time to go back to golf.”

Weaver mustered the courage — and the game — to tackle professional golf.

“At first I couldn’t break 80 because I was so nervous,” he says. “But gradually I started to work my scores down to where I was in contention against veteran players.”

His mini-tour breakthrough came in 1987 at the Zell Wood Country Club Open in Florida, where — despite playing in a final group with three former PGA Tour pros — Weaver birdied the 72nd hole to capture his first title. “I knew then that I could play with these guys and beat them.”

And beat them he did, winning 14 mini-tour events and earning his PGA Tour card in 1988.

Once he reached the professional Mecca, Weaver flirted with success, making about a third of the cuts in tournaments he played and missing a number of others by a shot. But a PGA Tour victory eluded him and his full-time status on tour only lasted a year.

Nevertheless, it was an experience that Weaver firmly believes trained him well for his ultimate calling.

“I didn’t fulfill my potential, but the mistakes I made are ones I can help others prevent from making today,” he says. “Hey, I played a practice round with Tom Watson at Pebble Beach. I played with Lee Trevino at the Buick Open, and was in the top-10 after Saturday’s round. I played in two U.S. Opens and practiced with greats like Vijay Singh and Payne Stewart for many long sessions.

“Today, I ask my students, ‘How much are you willing to invest?’ I know what it takes, and if you aren’t willing, I can help you with another game plan. But let’s be realistic and enjoy the journey.

“Learning who I am as a person, the strengths, the weaknesses, and how they affect my golf is a vital part of becoming a complete golfer,” Weaver says. “It took putting myself in the fire of top-level competitive play to start to say, ‘What are the resources we can draw on here to make me the complete player?’

“That’s what I want to bring to the table at Palmetto Dunes: Here’s a little mental stuff, here’s the workout stuff, here’s the top-notch technology to teach our students — and we are very women and junior friendly — how to reach their potential and have fun doing it.”

To sign up for one of Doug Weaver’s free, Monday clinics at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort or any of its other world-class golf instruction programs, call 866-744-7558 or visit

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