Area Golf: Sharpening your golf game

Golf instructor Ryan Sharpe hits a ball Thursday, July 2, at the Cragun's driving range. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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Ryan Sharpe always knew he would be in golf.

When he was just 10 years old his dad would drop him off at Greenhaven Golf Club in Anoka every day in the spring and summer. It became his day care.

“I’d get dropped off at the golf course at 8 a.m. and picked up at 5 p.m. so I spent all day at the golf course every summer,” Sharpe said. “I know it was something I wanted to do.”

Now, at 35, Sharpe is finishing up his second year as a golf instructor at Chris Foley’s Golf School located at Cragun’s Legacy Courses.

Sharpe works with all types of clients, from high school stars to elderly couples looking for quick fixes.


“You have to manage personalities as well,” Sharpe said. “I have two high school kids and one is more laid back and one will call you after every round.”

Most notably, three of his high school clients will have the opportunity to play in the National High School Invitational at Pinehurst in early August — Brainerd’s Eric Stoxen and Izzy Olson and Pequot Lakes’ Tyler Seeling. Sharpe will make the trip along to encourage his golfers as they play one of the most prestigious courses in the U.S.

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Sharpe’s wife is from the Brainerd lakes area and they moved up from the Minneapolis suburbs four years ago.

Sharpe worked as a course general manager and director of golf at Willingers Golf Club in Northfield. He also worked in The Classic at Madden’s pro shop prior to becoming a full time instructor at Chris Foley’s Golf School.

“I’ve always wanted to be a full time instructor,” Sharpe said. “Chris (Foley) offered me a position two years ago to be a full time instructor under him and I thought it was the right time. I wanted to get out of the green grass operation and just be a full time instructor.”

He loves the coaching part of being an instructor.

“I like the challenges,” Sharpe said. “Every lesson is different and I think the coaching part of it. Here at Chris Foley’s Golf School we focused more on not just doing a lesson and never talking or seeing them again. It’s more of a plan and sticking to the practice plan to help them reach their goals.”

Sharpe walked on to San Diego State University golf team when he was a freshman. After one season competing he transferred and got his degree at the San Diego Golf Academy.


From there he spent a few years being a caddie for his friend Clayton Rask on the Tour — now known as the Korn Ferry Tour.

As an instructor, Sharpe said one of the biggest challenges is building up his clientele.

Grip is the most important thing Sharpe looks at with a new client. The first thing he looks at is a golfer's grip and alignment.

With more of his older clients he tries to help them with their consistency.

“If someone is missing both ways, I try to take one side of the course out for them so they have more understanding about where their golf ball is going to go,” Sharpe said. “It just makes it more enjoyable to where you get on the tee and you don’t think, ‘Is my ball going to go right or left.’”

Around the green Sharpe’s advice to his clients is spend hours at the practice green.

“Around the green, it’s just the fundamentals,” he said. “It’s more them putting the time in. A lot of people will come to the range and hit balls, but you don’t see very many people going to the practice green. I can give them the right steps, but they have to make sure they practice it.”

Golf is as much a mental game as physical and as an instructor Sharpe helps his students with their psychological approach to golf as well.


“Golf is a game about misses,” Sharpe said. “So how good can we get your misses? Just focusing on different holes. With one of my clients we do more gameplanning the golf course and studying that.”

In the future, Sharpe would like to be a Chris Foley himself and have his own golf school. For the time being, Foley has been a great mentor to Sharpe.

“He was the top ranked teacher in the state last year,” Sharpe said of Foley. “So I feel honored and blessed to be under him and learn from him and his reputation. He’s always there if you have a question. He is the most well-known teaching pro in the state of Minnesota and he’s the perfect mentor.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Golf instructor Ryan Sharpe Thursday, July 2, at the Cragun's driving range. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Golf instructor Ryan Sharpe Thursday, July 2, at the Cragun's driving range. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Golf instructor Ryan Sharpe Thursday, July 2, at the Cragun's driving range. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

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