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Opinion & Analysis

Getting to know Instructor Tom Stickney

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GolfWRX Featured Writer Tom Stickney currently splits his time between Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., and the Promontory Club in Park City, Utah, as the Director of Instruction at both courses. Stickney, who has also worked in Florida and Colorado, is a native of Memphis, Tenn.

The Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher is also one of a handful of Trackman Masters and was recognized as one of the best Young Teachers Under 40 by Golf Digest from 2006 to 2011. 

How he got his start in teaching…

Stickney was playing mini tours when he was approached by a pro due to inherit a hefty sum. The pro, now financially secure, wanted to try his hand at making it to the big tour. Thus, he needed someone to give lessons at his 45-hole semi-private course.

How teaching has changed in the last 10-15 years…

“When I first started…the first 10-12 years of my career…golf instruction was a very closed shop. It was very proprietary as far as the information that was out there. You pretty much developed your own style based on what you could read.”

“It’s not like you had the Internet…all you did was read every book that was out. Now, the information is out there.”

“We’ve got a couple of kids…interns in the PGM Program…and they probably know 60 percent of what I know, as far as the mechanics…and they haven’t taught at all…They just dug around the internet and figured it all out. What they don’t have is 20,000 hours if lessons to hone their crafts, like I do.”

Signs of an increasingly competitive industry…

“When I first started, getting to $100 an hour was a goal…you look around and everybody at every main resort was charging $250 an hour. There were just so many people spending so much money on golf. There are very few $250 an hour jobs anymore.”

“If you want to make any money in the instruction business, you have to have all the awards, all the accolades and you have to spend a bunch of money on technology.”

How he got started writing for GolfWRX…

“When I get home, I don’t usually surf the Internet for swing theory…but I was surfing around one night looking for something and I came across GolfWRX.”

“I’d written a bunch of articles…I’ve always been a prolific writer. I called Zak and said, ‘Hey, look, I have a series of articles I’d be interested in putting on your blog, if you have any interest.’”

What it’s been like…

“As time has gone on, it’s been fun to watch my number of views grow. It’s been addictive…watching it grow”

“I still can’t believe I’ve had a million people click on my article”

Favorite stuff he’s written…

“In my articles, I’ve always been more of a niche person on the technology side.”

“Trackman is the hot thing, and it’s something I believe in very much…My favorite articles have been the Trackman stuff.”

“There’s a need for some deeper swing theory given the clientele [at GolfWRX].”

Stickney said his favorite article he’s written is “Impact location by handicap.” Regarding the piece, he said: “That something so basic could get so many responses…the golf business never ceases to amaze me.”

On his future writing for GolfWRX…

“I look at it as an obligation to continue to write, and I’ll continue to write. It’s been fun.”

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. tom stickney

    Apr 21, 2015 at 12:26 am

    Dr. Britt– loved the ping becu one iron you had back in the day…used to go by the bag room as a kid look at it only to wish I had one of my own!!! I hope you well…great to hear from you! Thanks!!!!

  2. tom stickney

    Apr 21, 2015 at 12:25 am

    Thanks Steven…glad you are enjoying the articles sir!

  3. Lou Britt

    Apr 20, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I had a lesson years ago in Florida great to aw you prospering I. Like your writing I’m an old friend of your dad from Colonial

  4. steven

    Apr 20, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Mr. Stickney is my favorite writer on golfwrx. I read his articles and try to absorb as much as my small brain allows. My favorite articles were his series The Swing in Pictures. In these articles he broke down positions of the swing from a beginner/intermediate/advanced and professional prospective.
    Tom, Thank You for sharing your knowledge and investing your time in writing great articles with this low double digit duffer.

  5. Tom Stickney

    Apr 20, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Thank you for your time! My pleasure

  6. Don OConnor

    Apr 19, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I have enjoyed Tom’s articles so much that I recently took a lesson from while visiting California from Texas. First of all he was very accommodating when arranging the lesson on short notice. Secondly the lesson has helped me tremendously. He almost instantly noticed a flaw in my set-up that has caused inconsistency in my ball striking for the last 35 years. I have taken lessons from several well regarded pros and none of diagnosed my set-up as an issue. I am a 1 hdcp so I strike it fairly well, but now I am not searching for the bottom of my arc at impact. As you can imagine a set-up change after that many years feels uncomfortable and strange, but 2 days after the lesson I played in a So. Cal. Mid-am qualifier and made 7 birdies in the first 13 holes. If it was for a sloppy short game the 72 could have been a 67.perhaps I need to see Tom for a short game lesson. The set-up is now starting to feel more naturally and am thinking less about mechanics than I ever have. Thank you Tom, even at 51 I feel like my game can now be better than it has ever been.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: VA Composites Nemesys wood shaft review and a big golf week for me!

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This week is a big golf week — playing in a member invitational! Got the bag sorted out and there are 14 clubs that I am going to live or die on the course with. I have been hitting the new VA Composites Nemesys wood shaft and am very impressed. A great counterbalanced option with a mid-low launch and low spin.

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Opinion & Analysis

Book review: The Golf Lover’s Guide To England

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There is this notion in the British isles, completely foreign to America, that states that visitors shall have access to all but a smallish passel of private clubs. In abject contrast, the finest clubs of the USA do their level best to keep their gates closed to both the riff and the raff, neither of which is nearly as detrimental to their continuity as some fearful members might believe. In this era of the database, would it be that hard to allow a visitor access once in her/his/their lifetime to Cypress Point, or Friar’s Head, or Prairie Dunes? Into the database their GHIN number would go, and if said individual were fortunate enough to win the lottery for a coveted golden ticket, err, tee time, that would be it for all time. I digress, however, as that rant is not the purpose of this book review.

The Golf Lover’s Guide To England, written and compiled by Michael Whitehead, lists 33 elite golf clubs across that country, divided into four regions, which are further divided into nine districts. Each of these clubs would be identified as unlikely in the USA, but is certainly accessible in England. The short story is: this nearly-pocket-sized compendium should accompany any traveler of golfing purpose, as it is invaluable for understanding the ins and outs of making contact, locating courses, and learning of their nature and history. The long story goes quite a bit deeper.

Michael Whitehead has the forethought to organize his works (Scotland was his first TGLGT volume) in meticulous fashion. The volume opens with a colorful map of the targeted country, complete with numbered flags to identify each of the courses reviewed within. The entire book explodes with wondrous colors, both in page background and course photography, and heightens the sensory experience of its study.

A delightful touch is the location of the Acknowledgements section in the front of the book. Typically relegated to one of the final pages that we skip past, before closing the cover, this is not the case here. Whitehead recognizes the invaluable assistance of his supporting cast, and situates them front and center. Good for you, Mr. Whitehead.

A brief history of the game in England is followed by the first of the four (North, Midlands & East Anglia, South East, South West) regions. The most populous of these is the South East, and we will use it to break down the districts. Five courses occupy an unnamed, scattered district. Five more are situated in the Surrey/Berkshire sandbelt, and four of those sites offer 36 holes on property. A final three fit into the Kent Coast district, and one of them has 27 holes within its confines. Thus it goes throughout the other three regions, albeit at a less-frenetic pace.

Moving along, each of the 33 seminal courses is granted six pages for description and assessment. Whitehead assigns color-coded price guides to each course, ranging from the up-to-49-British-Pounds entry point to the over-200-British-Pounds stratum. He also offers seasonal stratification, identifying the High (expensive) season, the Shoulder (mid-range) seasons, and the Low (economic) season. To facilitate contact with the club, Whitehead does his level best to provide online, email, and telephone booking options for each of the clubs. He adds in area courses of interest, in case the reader/traveler is confined to a specific locale. What more could one need, in advance of the golf trip of a lifetime?

For starters, one might wish to know a bit more about the course. Mr. Whitehead goes into the distances of teeing grounds, the need (or not) for a handicap certificate, the availability of caddies and rentals (push cart, electric push cart, clubs and motorized carts), the dress code, and (if any) tee time restrictions. In other words, any botched planning falls squarely on the shoulders of the golfer. Michael Whitehead has led the horse to the trough, filled it with water, and essentially dunked the equine mouth in the aqueous substance.

I’ve a friend who hates to know anything about a course he has yet to play. Attempt to mention any facet of the course and his response is a loud and grating LA-LA-LA-LA-LA, ad infinitum or until you cease your attempt at enlightenment. For the rest of us sane travelers, a bit of back story about the property, the architect, and the laying out of the course adds to the anticipation. As an architecture aficionado, I base the majority of my trips around the works of the golden-age architects, here in the USA. If afforded the opportunity to travel to England, I would seek out the works of Harry Colt, Alister MacKenzie, Herbert Fowler, and their contemporaries. Thankfully, all of this information is listed in Whitehead’s thorough volume.

The old carpenter’s motto of measure twice and cut once can certainly be applied when considering a purchase of this volume. Abandon its opportunity and you risk a return trip to the lumber yard, at considerable expense. Take advantage of what it has to offer, and your trip’s chances at success are doubled at the very least.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: What’s your target score?

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Without a target score, you are just wandering in the field like a feather in the wind. The North Star for your mindset starts with a target score!

 

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