Palm Desert Instructors

Palm Desert Instructors

Mike Ellis

Senior Instructor

Originally from Niagara Falls, New York, Mike Ellis joined the Marriott Golf team in 2000 as Senior Golf Instructor at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert, California. With over 30 years of experience at prestigious golf clubs throughout the country, Mike possesses a strong knowledge of the golf instructional business and has a passion for helping others achieve their goals.  Mike finds gratitude in fostering positive relationships with his students—evident in the vast amount of students who return to him each year.

A class ‘A’ PGA Member, Mike earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Professional Golf Management from Ferris State University in Michigan.

In addition to the extensive time spent coaching and instructing golfers of all ages and abilities, Mike’s vast knowledge and experience has been instrumental in the development and enhancement of the golf school curriculum at Marriott Golf Academy. His meticulous attention to detail as a Senior Golf Instructor is evident as Ellis is responsible for leading the staff and maintaining a team of excellence.

Mike has worked closely with several accomplished players throughout his career, including Women’s British Open Champion and the #1 ranked LPGA player in the world in 2013, Yani Tseng. Additionally, he has been featured on The Golf Channel,,, and has been a special guest on several golf radio programs over the years, while having his work published in several industry publications.

A huge sports fan, Ellis not only enjoys teaching the game, but is an avid player as well.

Ben Nicholas

Certified Instructor

Having spent most of his life in the Coachella Valley, Ben Nicholas is a California native with a passion for outdoor sports.  A class ‘A’ PGA Member, Ben graduated from the College of the Desert with a degree in Liberal Studies.

With great respect for the game, Ben joined Marriott’s Shadow Ridge in 2003 as Assistant Golf Professional. He soon developed a deep passion for helping golfers reach their full potential and decided to focus his energy on the instructional side of the golf business, where today he has become an accomplished teacher. In 2005, he also became a Certified Instructor at Shadow Ridge, which has helped to shape a very rewarding career teaching the game to others.

While Ben works extensively with golfers of all ages and skill levels, he is especially passionate about junior golf. In fact, he is responsible for establishing a thriving junior summer program at Shadow Ridge that continues to grow annually. Drawing from his many years of teaching experience, Ben has appeared in several print and digital golf publications providing instructional tips and guidance to a diverse audience of golfers. 

When Ben is not teaching the game, he is also an accomplished player who has competed with great success in the Southern California PGA Section Championship for several years. In 2010, he earned a second place finish in the Desert Chapter Championship.