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The Golf Whisperer

A pro who delivers results and relationships

To say I grew up immersed in golf is an understatement. I was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, started lessons at the age of four at the Augusta Country Club, played the Augusta National frequently where my late father was a member; and now, as a resident of Reynolds Lake Oconee, continue my love of the game.

Harbor Club Pro Doug Price perfects Robbie Williams' backswing.

Both of my parents were avid golfers, but the crown jewel of our golfing family was and is my mother, Robbie Williams. She learned the game in her mid-20s after marrying my father, who left her on their honeymoon to go play a round of golf. She became a 5 handicap and played at top courses around the country. Needless to say, golf lessons are something with which she has a lot of experience. Hours were spent with pros ranging from those at local public courses to Dave Spencer and Bob Kletcke at the Augusta National.

Last year, at the age of 83, a fellow golfer at her home course, Twin City Country Club in Tennille, Georgia, suggested she try a lesson at Harbor Club on Lake Oconee. She placed a call to their pro-shop and Doug Price just happened to answer the phone. This led to several lessons which significantly improved her game – but most of all, after over 50 years, she had finally found the perfect golf instructor.

Pro Doug Price adjusts Robbie Williams' grip.

My mother’s renewed enthusiasm and passion for the game after a few lessons with Doug inspired me to give him a try. My last golf lesson had been in 2012 with Kevin Sprecher, of Sleepy Hollow Golf Country Club, back when I lived in New York City. The lesson with Kevin went really well; he is ranked one of GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers in America and is ranked No. 9 on the Golf Digest 2019-20 Best Teachers in your State in New York. Then I met Doug Price who, within one lesson, improved my game more than any pro since my first lesson in 1966.

A native of Eatonton, Doug grew up in Joel Chandler Harris’ house until the age of 16, when his family moved to Great Waters. Even though he started playing golf around the age of seven, he excelled in basketball and played at Georgia College until a knee injury forced a change in direction.

Doug grew up around golf. His grandfather (and family) was in the golf-course building business and, on one occasion, his grandfather was hired to make some changes to the Augusta National; so, Doug walked the hallowed grounds before he was old enough to realize where he was. He’ll tell you his favorite Masters of all time was watching Bubba Watson win in 2014.

Doug Price has been with Harbor Club for 21 years. He started out as a cart boy and worked his way up to golf professional, where he discovered teaching was his passion. He started out practicing on some of his friends before the days of computer technology, videos or biodynamics. Several Harbor Club members saw him teaching and asked for lessons, which led to him hosting clinics for the female golfers. He thinks the most important thing for women to understand in golf is feeling a comfort with the game. Doug’s specialty is just that; he was born with that unique talent and his approach is very kind. Doug has only one rule with his clinics – no judgements. It serves as an ice breaker and makes sure everyone shares a common goal.

From my mother, Robbie’s, perspective, Doug made her feel like she could do it, unlike most pros who are checking it off their list. He inspires confidence and understands the psychology behind what needs to be achieved. Relatability is very important, and he makes it personal.

Lee Heffernan after a lesson with Doug Price.

So, who does Doug turn to when his game needs some tweaking? His friend and former multi-time PGA tour champion and Hall of Famer Tim Simpson, who also lives in Harbor Club. They met casually on the practice tee years ago and have remained friends. Tim’s philosophy is that teaching golf is around forty percent knowledge and sixty percent communication. When I asked Tim why he chose Harbor Club over all the other golf community options, he simply stated that after he played the course one time, he knew immediately it was one of the top courses in Georgia and that he’d never get tired of playing it. My mother feels the same way about her course in Tennille.

As passionate golfers know, golf is therapeutic – it is a game of misses and how the golfer handles them. Every day is different – it’s never the same for any golfer regardless of stature and level. It requires a level of commitment. Only 2 percent of all golfers can break 90, which says a lot about the difficulty of the game.

Robbie Williams, Tim Simpson, Doug Price and Lee Heffernan at Harbor Club Golf Course.

There is no denying that Lake Oconee is a golfer’s paradise. In the never-ending quest to perfect one’s game, finding the ideal golf pro to help achieve that goal can be a never-ending quest in itself – until you meet Doug Price.

Harbor Club is open for both golf rounds and lessons to nonmembers. The pro-shop carries a range of golf equipment brands such as Calloway, Cobra, Mizuno, and Cleveland. Lessons with Doug are very affordable and he also does club fittings. The pro-shop can be reached at 706-453-4414.

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Story by Lee Heffernan, published in the March/April 2021 issue of Lakelife magazine.


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