Remembering Legendary Quail Lodge Golf Club Instructor Ben Doyle
December 19, 2014
The Mat. The Impact bag. The cart.
What became an institution at Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club in Carmel Valley started when golf instructor Ben Doyle, who died December 15 in San Francisco, brought Homer Kelley’s revolutionary golf instruction book, ‘The Golfing Machine’, to the driving range in 1973.
At the time, Doyle had become the first authorized instructor of The Golfing Machine after nearly 20 years spent as a member of the Professional Golf Association in the state of Washington.
For Doyle, it was all very simple. It was all about the joy of sharing.
“I‘m just doing the job,” said Doyle in a 2012 interview with the Monterey Herald. “I have always wanted to share the book, and that‘s what I‘ve been doing over the years.”
Upon setting up shop on the driving range at Quail Lodge, Doyle would meet one of his first pupils, a 13-year-old frazzle-haired local kid named Bobby Clampett. Two years later, Clampett’s handicap index had dropped from eight to scratch.
“I’ll never forget the first time I met Ben,” said Clampett in a 2008 interview with the Monterey Herald. “He came up to me and I introduced myself. I asked is there any way you can check my swing. He took pictures and saw everything, including the bunny-hop.”
For nearly 40 years, Doyle and his cart of teaching doo-dads and gadgets, which included his Facts and Illusions mat, a 10 x 6 foot mat that explains and demonstrates the geometry of the golf swing, called Quail Lodge Golf Club home.
But his influence spanned across the globe.
Doyle, who moved to San Francisco following the passing of his wife in 2012, routinely was named to Golf Digest’s list of America’s Top 50 instructors and Golf Magazine’s list of Top 100 teachers.
“I’ve never met a man like Ben,” said former PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington, another one of Doyle’s students at the 2008 “A Tribute to Ben Doyle: Honoring his Contributions to the Game of Golf’, which was held at Quail Lodge.“He has so much energy and passion every day, and it’s all focused on one mission, and that’s to make players better.”
Among those who stood on the mat–next to Doyle’s one-of-a-kind cart that was draped in a canopy that read “G.O.L.F.” (Geometrically Oriented Linear Force) and “Sustain the Lag”—over the decades were Clampett, Elkington, Johnny Miller, Bernhard Langer, Gary Player, Curtis Strange and Tom Kite, just to name a few.
Those also touched by Doyle were Ron Read, former West Region director for the USGA, and Laird Small, director of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy.
“Ben’s infamous golf cart should be enshrined at the USGA’s Golf House in Far Hills, New Jersey,” said Read, who during the 2008 Tribute read a letter to Ben thanking him for his contributions to the Game of Golf that was penned by Arnold Palmer.
Doyle’s cart was so loaded with stuff that, according to Quail Lodge lore, a litter of kittens was once born amidst it all. And Doyle had no idea.
But it wouldn’t have probably mattered to Doyle anyways. Just as long as it didn’t get in the way of his sharing.
“I was at Quail Lodge during 1982-1987 as director of golf out there, and I’d see Ben out there on the range all the time,” Small said. “His legacy, continuing and ongoing, is in the way he’s touched the lives he’s shaped, and the instructors that he’s helped mold. He lives on in those lessons every single day.”