When golfers struggled with their swings, they went to Rodney Lidenberg to get help.
For more than 40 years, Lidenberg fixed the swings of hundreds of amateurs, professionals, college players and kids just starting out while teaching at Twin Cities-area golf courses. His dedication and innovation — he was one of the first instructors to use video to record golfers’ swings — made him a highly sought-after instructor and earned him praise from Golf Magazine, which from 2007 to 2016 annually named him one of the “Top 100 Teachers in America.”
“He was a legend,” said Jim Schaffran, who for the past two seasons took weekly lessons from Lidenberg at Bluff Creek Golf Course in Chaska. “If you were having trouble with your swing and just could not get it, he would have five ways to get you to do the move he was trying to get you to make. He was amazing.”
Lidenberg, 69, of St. Louis Park, died Nov. 19 of natural causes.
Lidenberg’s golf career began when his father gave him a club to hit balls in a vacant lot near his home in Fargo, said his son Willie, of Minneapolis. Lidenberg played varsity golf at Fargo South High School and at North Dakota State University, where he studied English literature. During graduate school, he coached the university’s men’s and women’s golf teams.
He moved to Minneapolis in 1977 and was a teaching instructor at Interlachen Country Club in Edina. Lidenberg later helped develop and manage the now-closed Rich Acres Golf Course in Richfield. He helped improve operations of the 20 courses he managed during the 1990s until the mid-2000s while working for Continental Golf Corp., a course management and acquisition company, said business partner David Mooty.
“He was driven to be excellent at whatever he did,” Mooty said.
Lidenberg was the 28th president of the Minnesota section of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) and in 1985 was named Golf Professional of the Year, the section’s highest honor. He won three Minnesota PGA Teacher of the Year awards, one Junior Golf Leader award and the Horton Smith Award for outstanding and continuing contributions to professional education.
“He was a strong leader with very good ideas,” said Jon Tollette, chief operating officer of the Minnesota PGA. “He gave his time and was committed to the section.”
Lidenberg competed as an amateur in two United States Golf Association National Public Links championships, but teaching was his passion, his son said.
Among the golfers who benefited from Lidenberg’s tutelage were PGA Tour professionals Chris Perry of Edina and Twin Cities native Tim Herron. He also worked with the late Patty Berg, the Minneapolis native who was a founding member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
“He had a gift to be able to see exactly what the student was doing wrong and find creative ways to remedy their problems,” Willie Lidenberg said. “He was infinitely fascinated by the swing and made an art of perfecting other players’ swings. He loved seeing his students excel and reach their goals, be it win a tournament, break 100 or receive a college scholarship.”
Lidenberg wrote several golf instructional books and articles for golf magazines. He also wrote political thrillers, murder mysteries and action novels inspired by his favorite author, Stephen King, though none were published, his son said.
Survivors also include Lidenberg’s two other sons: Sam of Portland, Ore., and Matt of Decorah, Iowa. Services have been held.