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GolfTEC lets Encinitas golfers take a swing at new technology

While Suzanne La Tour’s peers are raising children, she jokes that she is raising three San Diego County GolfTEC franchise locations.

While two are established — one at Rancho Bernardo and the second in the Golden Triangle area — the third just launched on Dec. 6 at the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course.

It is the first GolfTEC facility to be located on a golf course property in Southern California, said La Tour. The new 2,500-square-foot building houses four teaching bays, a putting lab and a fitting studio.

During the opening celebration, almost 100 attendees toured the facility, played a virtual course and learned about the custom technology-based instruction that is taking the world of golf by storm.

Founded in 1995 by two Denver-based golf professionals, Mike Clinton and Joe Assell, GolfTEC uses proprietary technology to provide high-tech indoor golf lessons. The customized system focuses on five factors for maximum improvement: fact-based diagnosis, sequential lessons, advanced retention tools, video-based practice and precision-matched clubs, according to GolfTEC’s website.

GolfTEC is the nation’s leading provider of golf instruction, giving millions of lessons a year in 180 high-tech settings across the U.S. with overseas locations in Mexico, Canada, Korea and Japan, and plans to open in Chile and China, said La Tour.

La Tour is a wealth management adviser and first vice president-wealth management in the financial services division of Merrill Lynch’s downtown San Diego branch. A native New Yorker, she relocated to San Diego in 1988 to work in the world of finance.

A certified financial planner, she is also designated as a Certified Investment Management Analyst through the Senior Consultant’s Course at the Wharton School of Business. She has mostly individual clients and manages about $150 million in private client money, she said.

“I’m like a general-practice doctor; I love all my clients and really enjoy what I do, but I wanted to diversify and do something else.”

Wealth management had been La Tour’s one-and-only career, a 24-year endeavor, when she began researching to invest in a pedestrian-type franchise business like a coin-operated laundry or a dry cleaning company.

But fate stepped in as La Tour, an avid golfer, was taking a series of GolfTEC lessons, when she inadvertently overheard that its San Diego-based franchise was for sale.

“I called GolfTEC’s Denver headquarters immediately and they confirmed the sale, but they told me I would have to buy the whole region and ultimately build out four centers,” recalled La Tour. “I thought, ‘Of course! Why would I want to start off small?’” she joked.

Being passionate about “the addictive game of golf” and understanding the strong desire to improve skills, La Tour dove into the venture in 2010. Since then she has gone from one staff member to nine, with plans to hire more.

Her business has given more than 25,000 lessons to more than 3,000 clients, and she is looking ahead for continued growth with the Encinitas-based facility.

“GolfTEC is No. 1 in the nation for golf instruction,” said La Tour, “and JC Golf is a great management company. With Encinitas Ranch being the busiest public course in North County, we’re very excited for the success of the partnership and being a part of the Encinitas community.”

The GolfTEC studio hours at Encinitas Ranch Golf Course are: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Saturday and Sunday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday. To book a lesson, call 760-208-1400. For more about GolfTEC, visit www.golftec.com.


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