Play Golf Free in Stewart BC/Hyder AK

If a trip to Alaska is  planned for 2017, there’s a good chance you’ll be stopping in our twin communities and you’re invited to use our facility free of charge when you do. Golf swing instruction with Steve Marley BS, FCIP is also free. Steve and the other volunteers operate and maintain the facility during June thru August on behalf of all our residents and visitors.

2017 UPDATE: A 300+ sq.ft. artificial putting surface was installed in 2016 which also allows for chipping and work on the short game.The SE 40% of the facility has had water issues due to the beaver dam located just behind the tree line.




Some explanation is required – the aerial photo will give you a somewhat flattering view of the Mount Rainey Golf facility from 500 ft. It is community-owned and developed originally as ‘driving range’ approx. 10yrs ago. The property is approx. 12 acres, flat, originally covered with the trees/brush etc. that  still exists on the North and East sides and features heavy, tall, thick grass over a rocky (pebble size) soil. The current group of volunteers  began in ’05, after the facility sat unattended for several years and, incrementally, have added improvements over the years: a sun/rain canopy protecting two of the driving range stalls; installing a practice bunker (functional but still trying to achieve a better sand consistency); an all-weather mini-golf 9 hole putt-putt  layout; lastly, we’ve laid-out and cut a 7 hole par 3 course within the driving range featuring narrow  fairways with the native grass in-between. The term ‘fairways’ is also somewhat flattering as the volunteers use essentially  a residential riding mower and they’re closer to the length of a ‘first cut’. The greens are the same length with enlarged cups and one of our Local Rules is : gimmes within the leather. The maximum distance is approx. 160 yd but is challenging for the medium and short irons due to the grasses just off several of the fairways which might as well be water because the ball will be difficult to find. Also, due to the open layout, there are 28 different hole combinations which means we need to establish two ‘course records’.

Of course a trip to Alaska usually doesn’t involve Golf so a visit to Stewart/Hyder provides the visitor an additional activity in a spectacular setting. Our facility is well suited to the person who is new to the game or those who have been reluctant to take up the game – imagine the look on your golfing friends’ faces back home when, after a half hour’s instruction from Steve Marley ‘the volunteer pro’, you dazzle them with your improvement. If you dont have your clubs, use ours – we supply the balls too!

For more info please contact me on this site or

Hope to see you on your next visit.


Ryder Cup the 17th Century Version

As we approach the latest iteration of the now-fabled Ryder Cup and following the historic vote involving Scotland remaining in the U.K., I’m reminded of the Match that took place between, effectively, England and Scotland.

The year was 1610 and two English noblemen challenged the Duke of York (the future James VI of Scotland/James II of England) to a golf match to determine which country was superior. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a stretch to compare this to today’s Ryder Cup however it did occur between two recognized countries and there definitely was a lot at stake.

James accepted the challenge and chose for his partner a prominent local golfer, a shoemaker and commoner, perhaps the world’s first ringer. In a class conscious society this may have been considered a bold move. Sadly, I’ve been unable to uncover more details but think it safe to assume that there were only the four players, accompanied of course by their various retinue and that it was just the one round. Was there a gallery?

Good question. I think probably there were some locals with the wherewithal to view an event like this which must have been big news in the area although I’ll bet they weren’t in close proximity like today. People had been playing golf in Scotland for hundreds of years by this time. In fact the first official mention of Golf comes from the Scottish Parliament which banned participation in the sport in 1457 as it interfered with mandatory archery practice.

Who among us who calls themselves a golfer wouldn’t want to have been able to witness this match. Unlike today when a foursome match is underway e.g. Ryder Cup, I imagine there was quite a bit of conversation between the competitors and that it included a considerable amount of what we today would call gamesmanship. They were probably drinking as well as betting on the side. Otherwise the match probably looked quite similar to today. How any disputes were settled would be interesting to know; perhaps a referee/umpire of some sort was chosen.

Of course in those days golf was all about match play and the notion of counting strokes for a complete round was incidental, no doubt influenced by the fact that what constituted a complete round was fluid. Thankfully stroke play became commonplace and has resulted in one of the key differences between golf and other individual-participation sports e.g. you cant play tennis by yourself!

That’s a bit unfair to tennis which is older than golf but it is limited to match play. Better examples might be skiing, swimming or cycling but I dont think they compare. So now as we breathlessly await the start of Ryder Cup play, some 400+ years since its earliest ancestor, I realize that I forgot to tell you that Scotland won.


The one component of the golf swing that is not subject to individual interpretation is acceleration. Every golf shot, from the driver to the putter, requires an accelerating stroke.
Acceleration can be defined as: A measure of how fast velocity changes or the rate of increase of speed. No matter how you define it, the stroke you make needs to be accelerating at the point of impact – almost imperceptibly for the putter head and respectively greater through to the driver.
So now you’ve taken the club back and your downswing begins – it’s important to remember that acceleration involves ‘increasing speed’ – so you dont want to start the downswing too fast; instead you want to build up speed through the downswing and through impact.

Hinge vs Roll and the Wrist.

A recent ‘search term’ – How to Hinge and not Roll Wrists – found it’s way to this site and I wonder whether there isn’t a perception among some golfers that the wrists must do one or the other but not both. To the extent that perception does exist, I agree that one can do ‘one or the other’ but I dont teach that to the new golfer.
The wrists will both Roll and Hinge during the swing, they just wont do it at the same time: Starting at address and within the first 90 degrees away from the ball, the wrists/arms are ‘rolling’ i.e. pronating/supinating; beyond 90*, completing the backswing, the wrists are naturally ‘hinging’.This is reversed on the downswing whereby one ‘unhinges’ on the way down to the 90* position whereupon the ‘rolling’ (pronate/supinate) takes over through impact and beyond to 90* past impact at which point you’re moving to hopefully a balanced finish.

Can Tiger Woods Break 100? (PGA Tour Wins,that is)

To me the answer is yes and he may do it before he turns 45. It appears that only his physical condition could possibly prevent this.

What really stands out to me though is that, since Tiger began playing the PGA tour near the end of the ’96 season, no other player who has since joined the tour has achieved even 10 wins! In fact only a few players e.g. Phil Mickelson & V.J. Singh, who were already on tour when Tiger broke in, have achieved more than 10 wins since then.

What does this say about the state of the PGA Tour or, more specifically, the level of talent on tour. While there’s no shortage of talent, there is a shortage of consistent winners. Perhaps this indicates a kind of parity; if so, I wont be too distracted from watching Tiger break 100.

Comments on Hank Haney’s Article in Dec. 2012 Golf Digest

In the ‘Lesson Tee’ section (p.30) Hank Haney’s article: “No.1 Driving Fault – Dont roll your wrists, hinge them up and down” posits the notion that those who struggle with the driver do so , most commonly, by “…rolling the wrists at the start so that the left hand ends up on top of the right and the clubhead pulls to the inside… mak(ing) the swing plane way too flat..” Hank provides six photos of Ernie Els, from address to the top of the backswing, as evidence of a proper one-piece takeaway. Where I take issue with Hank is his approach to ‘rolling the wrists’. He says that ‘…by rolling the wrists at the start…the left hand ends up on top of the right..’ – let’s stop there and go to Ernie’s photos. The first one (top left) shows him at address and in a ‘square’ position – the clubface and his left wrist are pointing at the target (north) and the right wrist is facing the camera (south). The third photo shows the clubhead at 90 degrees away from address and you’ll see that the clubface is virtually straight up and down and facing east as is his left wrist, the right wrist is facing west – also a ‘square’ position. Not only is Ernie ‘square’ at the 90 degree position, the clubhead has been started on a proper ‘path’. My point here is that Ernie can only achieve this position by ‘rolling’ the arm, forearm, wrists, hands and clubhead in one-piece also known as pronation/supination. Hank is of course right that  if you ‘roll’ or ‘pronate’ too much, the clubface and left wrist will be pointing  skyward and the clubhead path will be flattened. Hank stresses the importance of hinging the wrists and it’s at this 90 degree position that they will hinge upwards, but not before, while the arms, shoulders etc. continue to turn.

I maintain and teach in The 90 Degree Rule that just enough: roll; pronation/supination to result in a ‘square’ position at 90 degrees away from address is one of the best building blocks for an efficient repeatable swing and I think that Hank has overlooked this. A simple drill, described elsewhere on this blog, will provide the ‘muscle-memory’ necessary to achieve  that ‘square’ position, 90 degrees away from address, every time.

We All Have It And We Have It All Wrong – A Treatise On The Golf Swing.

It’s important  to put the golf swing in perspective as it relates to the game of golf. The closest equivalent in sport to golf that I can find is cycling/bike racing because riding a bicycle is as critical to the one as the golf swing is to the other although neither activity is a sport in and of itself. Looking closer at each activity, several shared characteristics emerge: 1. Wheel -a golfer’s head/spine represent the Hub,the arms and clubshaft are the Spoke and the clubhead is the Rim.  2. Acceleration and 3. Balance – the application of #2 to #1 provides balance, not unlike a gyroscope. With so much in common, why is it easier to learn to ride a bike effectively than swing a golf club? Does it take talent to ride a bicycle? No, and the same holds true for the golf swing. If you can ride a bicycle  then you’re also capable of swinging a golf club effectively i.e. We All have It…

The golf swing is a coordinated movement which is complex but not complicated. To say that We Have It All Wrong admittedly is a bit of an overstatement but not by much. Let’s start by looking at  the only golf swing that is ‘perfect’ – Iron Byron. It is an electro-mechanical machine used by the USGA to test clubs and balls for distance and conformity. Being a machine ensures it’s ‘swing’ is exactly the same every time. Of course, it only executes a downswing but always on the same ‘plane’ and ‘swing speed’ with ‘full extension’ and ‘balance’. If Iron Byron displays perfection then golfers attempts are simply a ‘variation on a theme’. There’s much to be learned from Iron Byron with respect to golfswing fundamentals. In fact there are some ‘for pay’ instruction programs built around it. To be sure, the sheer number of instructional programs, swing aids etc. winds up confusing many golfers.


Golfers rarely achieve that level of perfection including the pros but I would draw your attention to two of the top PGA touring pros: Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar. To the extent that Iron Byron has a backswing, it’s on the same plane as it’s downswing. Furyk, on his backswing, has the clubshaft almost perpendicular to the ground; Kuchar has the clubshaft the closest to parallel to the ground that I’ve seen. I mention these examples to illustrate the wide differences that can exist from one golfer to another in their interpretation of the golfswing while still executing the swing effectively. The downswing of these two pros comes closer to the perfection of Iron Byron.

I do not say that we should all swing a golf club the same way, only that we can. An incremental approach to teaching, stressing a few fundamentals still leaves plenty of room for individual interpretation.

The Democracy of Golf

In the democracy of Golf all are equal as they come to the game, including lack of skill. We exist in Golf as equals under the Rules however, with respect to skill, we dont remain equal as evidenced by our average Handicap (would apply even if everyone instinctively swung a golf club efficiently).

Once in Golf, personal responsibility dictates how each golfer develops their skill including those focused on improving and regardless whether Advice is sought. Golf fosters competition and everyone in golf has a right to expect, indeed is entitled to, a level playing field. Golf ensures fair competition to all through Handicap.

Finally, Golf expects each person to take responsibility for playing by the Rules, an obligation taken seriously by all who love the game. I cant think of a better example than Golf to show how personal responsibility and the level playing field meet in equity.

The Sarasota Herald first published articles under this title in 1929 & 1930.