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First-hand instruction: Kolb's academy all about improving golfers

SIOUX FALLS--Golf instructor Todd Kolb is all about developing golfers and developing relationships. The Sioux Falls man established the Todd Kolb Golf Academy more than 20 years ago and it's been home to many aspiring golfers. And no matter the ...

Todd Kolb stands for a portrait in front of the driving range outside the Todd Kolb Golf Academy at Willow Run Golf Course on Tuesday afternoon. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Todd Kolb stands for a portrait in front of the driving range outside the Todd Kolb Golf Academy at Willow Run Golf Course on Tuesday afternoon. (Matt Gade / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS-Golf instructor Todd Kolb is all about developing golfers and developing relationships.

The Sioux Falls man established the Todd Kolb Golf Academy more than 20 years ago and it's been home to many aspiring golfers.

And no matter the age, Kolb's main objective is to make sure each golfer is improving.

"We have one golden rule here at the academy that we have had from day one and it really guides us in every decision that we make and that is simply that the person in front of us has to get better," Kolb said. "The student has to improve."

With a 1,500-square foot indoor practice facility and a 300-yard driving range as a backdrop, the academy has improved hundreds of golfers. The academy, located at Willow Run Golf Course in Sioux Falls, has developed golfers ranging from elementary school to the professional level.

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While he's about improving the golfer, he's also about creating relationships and knowing them away from the sport.

"I hope that when they come and then when they leave here, they feel good about the experience because at the end of the day, it is about more than just golf," Kolb, 47, said.

That philosophy has worked for Kolb since the academy's inception and he's seen golfers grow from beginners to pros.

"Most of the kids, we get them when they are 10-11 years old and we literally see them grow up," Kolb said. "They stay here until they go all the way to college and then some of them play professional."

He's instructed three professional women's golfers, most notably Clark native Kim Kaufman. Kolb has worked closely with the former Texas Tech golfer for 20 years, who now plays on the LPGA Tour.

"It has been a really unique experience for me because we have really kind of grown together," Kolb said. "She has grown as a player. I have grown as a coach and together, we have been able to accomplish some really, really fantastic things and the future is very bright for her moving forward."

Kolb has also worked with the Parkston girls golf team for the past several years, notably coaching Augustana golfer Jordan Bormann and South Dakota State golfer Sydney Bormann. The Trojans have won the last five Class A state titles.

"We have had a great group of kids from all over, Parkston being one of those places and some really wonderful families and great kids over there and hard-working kids," Kolb said.

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Kolb's golf journey began as a 12-year-old kid in Sioux Falls, working as a caddy at Minnehaha Country Club.

After graduating from Sioux Falls O'Gorman in 1988, he played golf for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas for two seasons. He later transferred to New Mexico State University and played his final two seasons for the Aggies.

After playing competitively for a short time, Kolb approached long-time friend Dave Hanten about starting his own golf academy. Hanten, who helped establish Willow Run in 1986 and is in the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, was all for it.

"He was super supportive and said, 'You bet. If you want to make it happen, go for it' and really kind of paved the way for me to do that and now here we are 20 years later and I couldn't be happier," Kolb said.

Kolb's said his academy was established at the perfect time, as individual instruction for a number of sports is becoming the norm.

"We live in an age now and a time when parents are accustomed to training for their kids and so we came in at the right time," he said. "I was in the right place and with some hard work, it has worked out."

With the help of his two other instructors-Tyler Prins and Sam Vosler-Kolb instructs 70 golfers and that number has doubled in recent years.

"We have seen tremendous growth because of the hard work that we have put in," Kolb said. "But also because of the pretty cool partnerships and the kids that we get to work with."

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Kolb's setup at Willow Run has also grown in recent years. In addition to the driving range, the teaching facility has three 14-foot indoor/outdoor hitting bays, indoor putting greens and also an outdoor short-game area.

He calls it the dream facility for the academy's golden rule.

"We have everything we need right here to be successful and now it is our job to utilize those resources and do the best we can to help everybody play better," he said.

Related Topics: GOLF
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