FORE! (If you yell this a lot, try a lesson!) Can you hit this thing right every time?

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Ron Venturini: From Flight Plans to Ball Flight
Ron Venturini is no stranger to teaching. In fact, he’s been educating others for most of his adult life. Retired from the U.S. Air Force after 21 years as a fighter pilot and trainer, Venturini figures if he survived teaching others to fly, he can easily make it through just about any other subject - even life’s most challenging of games: golf.

“I enjoy being outdoors, and I love golf,” says Venturini, now in his 19th year as a teaching professional. “I figured if I could teach a person to fly an aircraft and still be alive to talk about it, why not teach golf for a living?” Venturini’s upbeat attitude, enthusiasm and talent for the game carried him through the necessary steps to become a PGA professional. As a full time teacher at the Eagle Crest Golf Center in Grand Island, New York, Venturini spends most of his time on the lesson tee. He does manage to stay competitive, however, as a regular participant in the local Western New York PGA Section events.

“I played football and baseball in college and played a lot of sports when I was younger,” says Venturini, who first picked up a club at age 10. “Golf wasn’t available where I went to high school, but I loved to play whenever I got the chance.” Venturini keeps his game in shape nowadays by working diligently on approach shots during his practice time. He also spends a lot of time on chipping and putting. Venturini will try to hit his driver and fairway woods about three times a week. “I work on sand shots as often as I can find a facility with a practice bunker,” he adds.

With his focused practice effort, it’s no surprise Venturini’s skills are strongest in approach and greenside shots. He loves to play the chip and run from the fringe. A difficult shot for Venturini might be an intentional fade to an elevated green; he admits, too, needing a little work on consistently driving straight. But, Venturini doesn’t allow himself to dwell on the negatives. “I have finally learned to accept a poor shot and not try to recover the whole game on the next one,” says Venturini. “ Age has taken a toll, but I am more patient than when I started my PGA apprenticeship.” Venturini instills the same level of acceptance and patience in his students.

“My students tell me they like my easy-going attitude and the patience I bring to the lesson,” says Venturini. “A lot of them first come to me hoping they can learn to play better so they won’t be embarrassed out on the course,” he adds. Venturini’s relaxed demeanor and warm personality immediately put students at ease. He’s been around the game, and students, long enough to know what it takes to bring them out of embarrassment and into a heightened level of confidence.

In fact, a number of Venturini’s former range pickers, shop attendants and cart boys were inspired enough to become PGA professional themselves. “Two of them own their own course - River Chase Golf Club in Union, South Carolina, and they have families, too,” smiles Venturini. “That is very rewarding for me!”

Venturini’s beginners are encouraged to concentrate on the basics: good grip, good posture and correct address and tempo. Once they’ve grasped these fundamentals, their confidence goes up and their scores start going down. Intermediate level players primarily work with Venturini on weight shift, set up and tempo. “Somehow, for these players, these parts get ignored, and bad habits get started,” points out Venturini. His advanced players need to focus on practice time, instead of always looking to play. “Playing is important, but one needs to be able to hit tough shots under pressure,” says Venturini. “If you haven't practiced it before, it isn't always easy to pull off.”

No matter what the skill level, each of Venturini’s students gets his full attention and his genuine commitment to their improvement. He is adamant about providing lessons that bring results and demonstrate how much he cares about each student’s game. “I have seen too many instructors look at a lesson as dollars and nothing more,” says Venturini. Venturini enjoys teaching too much to be distracted by the business side. What he loves most about giving lessons is meeting new people and watching these students’ faces light up as they begin to experience success.

A Grand Island resident for 24 years, Venturini’s favorite course is nearby River Oaks Golf Club, which hosted a few LPGA events in the early 70’s. “It has very challenging holes and is never boring,” says Venturini. Traveling to play often means challenging his brother-in-law to a match in Houston, Texas at the Champions Golf Club. Venturini’s brother-in-law is a member there, and they’ve battled numerous times for pride and, undoubtedly, a few bucks. Venturini plays the game without superstition, tending to wear lighter shirts and dark slacks, but requiring no lucky charms. His game is simple; he enjoys following those who share his love for shot-making: Trevino, Garcia and Woods.

Venturini has two grown daughters, Amy (37) and Alissa (27). After a full career behind the controls of a fighter jet, Venturini has built his second career as a teaching professional into just as passionate and exhilarating an endeavor. E-mail him at to learn more about improving – and enjoying - your game. Thanks, Ron!