“Golf is a sport to enjoy for a lifetime,” says Dawn Mercer, Director of Golf Instruction at Innisbrook Golf & Spa Resort. “You are never too young or too old to learn..”
With a world class golf facility that boasts 72 holes of championship golf, the Palm Harbor resort also offers world class instruction. Dawn Mercer has been rated one of the Top 50 Golf Instructors by Golf for Women magazine, and the Innisbrook golf school she directs now has received many awards including “Best in the South,” “Top 25 Golf Schools by Golf magazine” and “Best Instruction” by Zagats. Golf instruction at Innisbrook is open for anyone—local or abroad.
In addition to a year-round program of individual and group lessons for adults of all levels, Mercer has set up a schedule of golf instruction for juniors this summer. Innisbrook is conducting golf clinics for juniors, including junior camps and 20 participating juniors in the PGA Junior Golf League. This program was created to get kids involved in golf with a “little league” type program throughout the United States. The kids play three-hole matches, doing a scramble format and can only take max triple bogey.
Local clubs create teams to compete from May through July, with playoffs running to September. Innisbrook reaches out to its members’ children and their friends, but also accepts other area youngsters. Other area clubs have similar programs, with costs based on the extent of their programs. Camp participants at Innisbrook have six practices, five matches, jerseys, sleeves of balls, bag tags, drinks and snacks.
“Today’s automated world has eliminated opportunities for kids to play sports outside,” Mercer says. “By providing outdoor exercise, golf is wonderful for kids. It also gives them a chance to receive scholarships for their education. It teaches honesty, etiquette, discipline and many other valuable lessons. There are even employment options in golf with so many opportunities connected to the golf industry.”
Dawn Mercer—Our New Golf PRO
The Innisbrook Director of Golf Instruction began playing golf herself at the age of 12. At first, she learned from her father, a self-taught +2 handicapper.
“He was adamant that I learn correctly, so I attended clinics, lessons and golf schools, including the very first junior golf camp at the Innisbrook Resort at the age of 13,” she recalls. “I played in high school but then went to Tampa College that didn’t offer sports. Some years later there was an opportunity for me to pursue a career in golf at Innissbrook.”
Dawn Mercer started working in theInnisbrook golf shop in 1987, joined the PGA and LPGA Teaching and Coaching Divisions and continued with the PGA, receiving her Class A membership in 2003. During that time, she experienced her first real exposure to some of the nation’s best instructors at the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit, where she learned various teaching techniques for students of all abilities, which made her hooked on learning more. She enjoys any opportunity for continued education on golf instruction.
As a Titleist staff member, once she understood the golf swing mechanics better, she acquired a passion for the fitness element of golf. The Titleist Performance Institute and Golf Athlete gave another dimension to golf instruction, targeting students’ physical abilities. She suggests that people visit the Titleist Performance Institute website for certified instructors in their area.
Mercer has served as Director of Instruction at the Innisbrook Golf & Spa Resort since August, 2009. Other than golf, she says she enjoys cooking, fishing, travel, flying (received her pilot’s license in 2008), scuba and most water sports.
Article written by Jackie McCallum for Destination Tampa Bay magazine