By Peter Stilwell
When John Elmore presented his vision to create a competitive golf academy he had a simple goal in mind — develop an academy that combines superior academics, world-class golf training, state-of-the-art strength and conditioning, comprehensive sports psychology coupled with one of the finest golf facilities in the Sandhills area.
That vision from the head of the O’Neal School in Southern Pines has become a reality with the formation of Traditions Golf Academy at Forest Creek Golf Club, which is less than a mile from the private school.
The elite academy, the first in the Pinehurst area to partner exceptional class-room with golf training, was designed for students in 8th through 12th grades who aspire to play collegiate and potentially professional golf.
A maximum limit of 20 golfers will attend academic classes at the top-rated O’Neal School and receive golf instruction by world-renowned golf and swing coach Nick Bradley.
Traditions Golf Academy’s training curriculum and approach is based on individual development. Instruction focuses on the technical, physical, psychological and cerebral management of each student. Academy students will grow in all areas, becoming stronger, resilient and capable of competing at the highest levels of golf.
“We are excited to introduce Traditions Golf Academy at the ‘Home of American Golf,’” said O’Neal School director of athletics James Franklin, who is also the director for Traditions Golf Academy. “Bringing three crucial forces together, including excellence in education, elite golf instruction and an unparalleled golf facility, will provide a foundation for what we hope will be one of the best academy experiences in the world.”
Bradley brings a remarkable resume to the Sandhills with over 25 years of coaching, mentoring and developing golfers, from ambitious junior golfers to major champions. Originally from London, England, Bradley has an impressive coaching pedigree, including instructing winners on every major professional tour and teaching over 200 PGA and European Tour golf professionals. He was selected by Golf Digest as the top male teacher in North Carolina and has been a frequent swing analyzer/commentator for Sky Golf and NBC’s Golf Channel. His innovative approach to molding elite junior golfers will propel the academy students to be top collegiate golf performers.
“I am thrilled to have the ability to redefine the landscape of junior golf development,” Bradley said. “Traditions Golf Academy at Forest Creek will give us the perfect vehicle to develop the best thinking, the best competing and the most technically proficient juniors globally. Our unique ability to limit our class size will allow the academy to dedicate more one-on-one time for each young golfer and prepare them for elite colleges.”
Finding the right instructor and partnering with the best golf facility for Traditions Golf Academy took some time.
“Selecting one of the world’s best golf coaches, Nick Bradley, to lead our instruction, hosted at the exclusive Forest Creek Golf Club should assure success for this program from Day One,” Elmore said.
Founded in 1971, The O’Neal School is an independent, co-educational day school for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. O’Neal’s selective admissions policy and college preparatory curriculum serve students from over 20 towns in and around Moore County. The school is ranked No. 1 by the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) for 2-A division athletics.
“The O’Neal School is dedicated to the development of academic excellence, strength of character and physical well-being of our students,” Franklin said. “The introduction of Traditions Golf Academy will provide the opportunity to further our mission and to allow the academy students to advance to the collegiate golf level and beyond.”
The 1,250-acre Forest Creek Golf Club, founded in 1996, will provide a challenging and true playing foundation for Traditions Golf Academy. Forest Creek features two award-winning private Tom Fazio-designed golf courses, an expansive practice facility and is located minutes away from the famed Pinehurst Resort.
Traditions Golf Academy has begun accepting applications for the first class in August 2021. The academy offers non-residential and residential with host family options for students. A typical day will include 5 1/2 hours of academic instruction at The O’Neal School, physical training and conditioning in partnership with Sandhills Sports Performance and a minimum of 3 1/2 hours of hands-on golf academy training. On-course instruction and play, in addition to participation in scheduled golf tournaments within the region, will also be included. For additional information contact Katie Novak, director of Golf Academy admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nick Bradley, director of instruction at email@example.com 910-725-GOLF (4653).