Who has been the most naturally gifted player you have worked with? When he was 52 or 53 Greg Norman came to me for some guidance with his swing, and I would stand and watch him hit balls in total amazement. We worked on setup, grip pressure and pre shot. He almost won The British Open during this time. I went with him to a U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick where he could have won only Fred Funk went off the charts. Greg would hit one perfect driver after another, long and accurate with the same shot shape every time. It was so great to watch him and see his enthusiasm for the game.
Bruce Lietzke was another. He didn’t need to have the strongest work ethic due to his immense talent, but he won the Greens in Regulation category on the PGA Tour three times (1984, ’89, ’91) and was #1 in overall driving 9 times, combined length and accuracy, plus very near the top every other year he played. His swing was so repeatable. He won effortlessly. I was lucky to live with Bruce at the University of Houston and on the mini tour before he went on the PGA tour. The game was easy for Bruce. He never practiced.
And I have to say Erik Compton. Considering what he’s overcome and where he is today, he has to be extremely talented. Eric has had 2 heart transplants. The first at age 12 and then another at age 27. He was recently the runner up in the U.S. Open. Again, Erik is another non practicing genius.
Alexis (we call her Lexi) Thompson too. She is a great athlete. However Lexi is a ball beater. She works extremely hard. In my years with Alexis I tried hard to not over teach. I kept things she did naturally. I encouraged a long, full golf swing and a super strong driving game.
Who do you think has, or has had, the most perfect swing technically?
Ben Hogan. But I also think Anthony Kim should get a mention. You can’t believe how good he was. He was very self-assured and knew how good he was, but he was all done at 24. It’s a great shame because I loved to watch him swing the club. Tiger Woods too between 1990 and 2002. Are there areas of coaching you vehemently disagree with? No, because if something works for someone, no matter how bizarre or unconventional it is, then that person has got to stick with it. There are so many methods and philosophies out there, and some may work for one person but not another. The proof is in the pudding – does this method/approach help the student play better golf, and has that method stood the test of time?
Theories are constantly changing or evolving. For decades, everyone said you had to hit up on the ball with the driver. And that’s certainly true for a lot of people. But research shows others actually do better hitting down on the ball with the driver.