Driven To Success

Over the past 25 years, Rick Bradshaw, 56, has given more than 100,000 golf lessons. To weekend duffers. To scratch golfers. To PGA pros. To sports celebs such as Rick Pitino. And to countless others who have seen any of the nine instructional videos he’s produced.

Among instructors, he’s a national player, an award-winning PGA teaching pro.

One lesson proved particularly propitious. The student was Willye Dent, the wife of Jim Dent, the prominent PGA Tour veteran and long-drive legend. Dent, a 12-time winner on the Senior Tour, was impressed with Bradshaw’s enthusiastic, common-sense, applied-physics approach. And patience. Heavy on the patience.

“It’s usually not a good idea to give your wife lessons,” diplomatically explained Dent, 65, the 10th all-time money winner on the PGA Senior Tour. “I liked Rick’s style.”

Also sampling the Bradshaw mien: Jim Dent, Jr. And finally Jim Dent.

A bond was born.

For the past 15 years, they have been partners in the Jim Dent & Rick Bradshaw School of Golf. Since December, they have been based at Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club in New Tampa, a venue outfitted with state-of-the-art digital video feedback equipment and staffed by five assistants. At Dent/Bradshaw, private lessons (with Bradshaw) start at $70 an hour and rates range as high as $900 per person for a “3-Day Power Package,” which is geared more to the out-of-state golf vacationer.

“Whatever the format, the key is finding a way to communicate,” avers Bradshaw. “I tell my assistants, ‘They don’t walk out of here without getting better.'”

There’s also a newsletter, DVDs, periodic Golf Channel appearances, national corporate clinics and the growing market niche of young players with tour potential.

Abbas-Ali Mawji is a prime example of the last category. The 18-year-old native of Harare, Zimbabwe, is here on a visitor’s visa after seeing a television piece on Dent/Bradshaw while in the United Kingdom. He is a two-time junior champion of Zimbabwe.

“I have dreams and aspirations for the (PGA) Tour,” says Mawji, “and this is a place that can help me realize those goals.”

And there’s the chemistry.

Dent and Bradshaw. They could be as different as a laid-back black man from Augusta, Ga., and an outgoing white man from Philadelphia, respectively. Instead, they are as complementary as two guys with a passion for golf.

Dent, still a specimen at 6’3″, 224 lbs., is the marquee name. He maintains as active an instructional role as his playing schedule permits. He’s especially popular at clinics. Dent’s powerful and seemingly effortless swing, which officially has propelled a golf ball 426 yards, is considered the nonpareil of the sport.

Bradshaw, an on-site fixture, is considered a “teacher’s teacher” and a smooth salesman — as at ease one-on-one as he is on video.

“He’s a workaholic,” quips Dent. “He only has time to get to the bank.”

“Jim’s a team player,” responds Bradshaw. “He spent time perfecting his game to make money. I taught to pay the bills.”

However it’s phrased, that’s a lesson for any partnership: Play to your strengths.

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