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Opinion & Analysis

Getting to know instructor Dennis Clark



GolfWRX Featured Writer Dennis Clark has written nearly 100 articles since April of 2012, and his work has been read more than 5 million times.

Clark achieved the elite PGA Master Professional designation in 2002 and is routinely listed among the top teachers in the country. He’s been a pro for more than 25 years, and currently runs the Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the Marco Island Marriott in Naples, Fla.

The Philadelphia native was voted the 1996 PGA Teacher of the Year (Philadelphia section), the 2002 Top Teacher (Mid-Atlantic Region, Golf Magazine), the 2008 Golf Professional of the Year (Tri-State Section), and the 2010 Junior Golf Leader (Tri-State Section).

I spoke with him about his background in the game, teaching philosophy, and writing for GolfWRX.

Here’s Dennis Clark in his own words.

How he got started…

I started out as an education major in college. I have two degrees in education. I was originally going to teach, but I’ve always loved golf, and I ended up in this direction. I became a club pro…been a PGA pro for many years.

I was a middle of the road club pro as a player. I knew I would never play golf for a living, and I loved teaching. I started out with the goal of establishing myself as a teacher. A lot of guys start out with the goal of playing golf for a living. I knew I could break par on a good day and shoot 75 on a bad day. I wanted to help people who were curious about the hows and the whys of things. Even when I was playing in tournaments, I’d be looking at other pros and working with them. I was always very curious about the swing.

I worked with the John Jacobs schools for years, then the Golf Digest schools…I was the director of instruction at a couple of clubs. Now, [at my academy] I do everything from clinics, to corporate outings, to three-day schools, to private lessons. I work with everyone from professionals to beginners.


Clark’s academy is located at The Rookery (pictured), part of the Marco Island Marriott in Naples, Fla.

It’s a comprehensive, well-rounded instruction program. My big season is November through the better part of May, then we keep the academy open through the summer, but it’s a little bit lighter. We run about 750 people a year through here.

How writing for GolfWRX has helped…

GolfWRX exposes your instructional style to the multitudes. 5 million people have read the articles I’ve written on there. It gives you international exposure. Now you don’t capitalize on that being a local instructor; in other words, we’re limited to a facility. So I’m in South Florida. Someone in Norway can read the article and really like it, but they’re probably not going to come here for a lesson. But the people who like your style and the way that you present your material and are within driving distance or come here on vacation [will come].

I do online analysis with people that don’t live in the area, but who can relate to my style. They’ll send me golf swings. Through the V1 system, I can send them back and suggest corrections.

His approach to writing instruction articles…

You try to write as generally you can, but still make specific points; I think that’s part of the challenge. If you read my articles they’re always “if this, then that.” I’ve developed a reputation as a very individual teacher. There are a million ways to skin this cat. If you look in the golf hall of fame, you’ll see a myriad of swings. I’m all about trying to find the right combination to solve your golf equation. Like: If you take it back this way, that’s fine, but then you’ve got to bring it down this way…

Why he’s not a “method” teacher…

I completely eschew methodology. I think method teachers only help some people, but they’re not going to help everybody. The joy of my work is that every hour, every day, I have different puzzles to solve. Every golfer that I work with, they have a core move…it’s almost built into their golfing DNA. You have to work around that move. You may be like a Raymond Floyd, who takes the club way inside, or a Jim Furyk, who takes the club way outside…we’re not going to beat our head against the wall trying to change that. Let’s try to find something that’s compatible with that. I think that people relate to that style…thinking that they don’t have to do it one particular way.

People come to me saying, “I know I should do this…” There’s no should! There’s what you do do. Let’s go ahead and fix that up. I learned that from John Jacobs…he had a very practical style of teaching.

IMG_0144 (1)

Clark teaching a golf school at his academy.

Think about this: Name me one thing that every great player does… except get the club back to impact squarely. Every one of them is different. You say, “You have to swing the club upright?” Well, how the hell did Trevino make all his money swinging the club around his back?

How a golf instructor establishes a good reputation…

At the end of the day, my reputation is based on word of mouth. If people hit the golf ball better they’re going to tell other people. The marketing that I have is the person that’s right in front of me.

People ask me, “Do you ever get tired of teaching golf?” I don’t teach golf. I teach people to play golf. It’s a completely different approach, and every learning style is different.

Favorite piece he’s written…

In one of the first pieces…I said, “I want to write about some of the myths about golf.” Keep you head down, keep your left arm straight and slow your swing down. They’re going to help some people, but they’re not set in stone, and they’ve ruined a lot of golf swings. If somebody keeps their head down, they can ruin their posture. If they try to keep their left arm straight, they can get too stiff. I think that article got me started and it kind of grew from there.

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  1. Jeffcb

    Jun 1, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Certainly seems like to me that Jacobs is the foundation for many of the best teachers in the game. Is in my case too. Anyone from philly has got to be ok in my book as well!

    • Dennis Clark

      Jun 1, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Practical Golf he called it! Still best application. Of course we’ve expanded, modified and learned some new truths but the approach is still quite similar for me.

  2. other paul

    May 31, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Best articles on WRX come from Dennis, Tom, and Barney. Just praying you guys could land Kelvin Miyahira and I would never need another golf website.

  3. Notbright

    May 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm


    Yours and Barney’s are the ONLY two blogs I look for daily on this site.

    Mr. Jacobs said and wrote things that always made sense to me and so do you. I’m a Left Coaster and will never make it out and down your way but will always consider you one of the few voices of reason re: the golf swing and the dynamics involved. Thanks for being “available”.

    • Dennis Clark

      May 28, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Thx. You belie your user name; you sound pretty bright to me. ????

  4. TR1PTIK

    May 28, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve read a lot of his articles and from what I can tell: he’s a great person but couldn’t teach a fish to swim

    • Dennis clark

      May 28, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Actually it’s the other way around; I’m really repulsive but I CAN teach. Thx though.

    • Dennis clark

      May 28, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      Thx M. Glad it helps!

  5. Robert Rohanna

    May 28, 2015 at 11:35 am

    The Rookery facility is great and so is the golf school! Dennis is a great teacher and has helped take my game to the next level. 10+ years working together!!!

    • MHendon

      May 29, 2015 at 12:20 am

      Robert Rohanna, from big break?

      • Dennis Clark

        May 29, 2015 at 6:52 am

        Yes it is. And from the PGA Latin America tour. Been my student since high school.

        • MHendon

          May 29, 2015 at 9:59 pm

          Cool, Fellas got a great athletic swing. I was surprised when he didn’t win the big break.

  6. juststeve

    May 28, 2015 at 11:33 am

    John Jacobs alums are all over the place, and usually damn fine teachers. You can trust almost any of them, including Dennis.


  7. Tom Stickney

    May 28, 2015 at 9:30 am

    If you’re around Marco Island go see Dennis!!!! It will be well worth your time.

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Club Junkie

Review of the new Fujikura Ventus TR Red and Black shafts!



Fujikura’s Ventus shafts have been one of the hottest shaft lineups in years. You can see them all over the professional tours and in tons of amatuer bags every weekend. The new line of TR models does not replace the original Ventus Red, Blue, and Black as those are still available and won’t be leaving anytime soon. These new TR models are meant to be an addition to the line and filling a few gaps that players have asked for.

The Ventus Red was a shaft that I played in drivers and fairway woods over the years and I really loved it. I hit a pretty low, flat ball so the added launch of the Ventus Red was needed and it offered accuracy that I hadn’t been able to find in many higher launching shafts. The new TR Red takes a lot of that DNA and turns it up a notch. TR Red has a smooth, yet little more stout feel through the swing. It takes just a little more effort to load it and the kick at impact is great, just maybe not as aggressive as the Ventus Red is. The TR Red launch is a little bit lower and overall apex seems to be just a bit flatter as well. For players with more aggressive tempos the TR Red might offer a tad less draw compared to its sibling. I took the TR Red out in my Stealth+ head to a course I had played frequently and never had yardages into holes that I had that day. On at least 3-4 holes I told my playing partner that I had never been that close. The TR Red is currently in the bag!

TR Black looks amazing with the Spread Tow fabric showing in the sunlight. When you set the club down and waggle it, like all of us do with a new stick, there is almost no waggle to the shaft! The Ventus TR Black is very stout, noticeably more stout than the original Ventus Black. As stiff as the shaft is, Fujikura has built in a ton of smoothness to it. It takes a lot of power to load so be ready to try the softer flex or lighter weight. The launch is very low, one of the lowest I have hit, and the ballflight very flat. I could see that the TR Black launched significantly lower than TR Red when hitting it in the same head on the course. TR Black is hard to turn over and players who fear the draw should like the stout feel as you bring the shaft to impact. For my 105 mph club head speed I think stepping down to the 6-S would give me more playable results compared to the extra stiff.

Overall the new TR Red and TR Black are great shafts that Fujikura has engineered. Even if you are currently playing a Ventus, I think it is worth your while to check out the new shafts and see how they compare to your gamer. For more on each shaft check out my Club Junkie podcast.


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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How To Overcome The Mid-Season Golf Blues



Every Year around this time, golfers start getting tentative because they have missed a few too many golf shots and they immediately start to blame the faulty wires on the Pinocchio.

Of course, we are here to tell you that is not the case.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship: Outright Betting Picks



With the PGA TOUR regular season in the books, it’s time to begin the 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs.

Previously known as the St. Jude Classic and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the event will now serve as the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and is named the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

While the name of the event and the spot on the PGA TOUR schedule has changed, the course remains the same. TPC Southwind is located in Memphis, Tennessee and has been a regular TOUR stop since 1989.

TPC Southwind is a Par 70 measuring 7,244 yards. The course features Bermudagrass greens and rough. With 94 bunkers and 10 water hazards, there is potential trouble on almost every hole.

The FedEx St. Jude Championship will play host to the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings with the top 65 and ties making it through to the weekend.

FedEx St. Jude Championship Outright Bets

Matt Fitzpatrick (+2200)

Typically, the FedEx Cup playoff events are won by players who have been among the best overall players for that season. Matt Fitzpatrick is having the best season of his career and is undoubtedly one of the most impressive golfers of the year. For the 2022 season, the Englishman ranks third in Strokes Gained: Total, which trails only Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler.

Had it not been for Fitzpatrick’s incredible U.S. Open victory, TPC Southwind would have been a spot that I’ve always thought could be the perfect break through spot for the 27-year-old. Now that he’s won and gotten his first victory in the United States out of the way, it only increases his chances of being able to win a FedEx Cup Playoff event.

Talent was never the concern for Fitzpatrick. The former top ranked amateur in the world exploded onto the professional golf scene at nineteen years old and never looked back. Despite having eight European Tour victories by the time he’d hit his mid-twenties, many people questioned why he couldn’t win on American soil. Now that he’s a U.S. Open champion, there’s reason to believe the floodgates will open.

Fitzpatrick has had plenty of success at TPC Southwind in the past. In three starts at the course, “Fitz” has two top-six finishes including a fourth-place finish in 2019.

His success at the track isn’t all that surprising considering how well his skill set aligns with what’s required to compete at the course. It’s important to hit fairways, which is something he does at a high clip. He also is one of the best in the sport at limiting mistakes and ranks third in the field in Bogey Avoidance.

A FedEx Cup Playoff victory would add to what is already the best season of Fitzpatrick’s career and give him a chance to make a run at a being the FedEx Cup champion.

Will Zalatoris (+2500)

For the past few weeks, we’ve seen Will Zalatoris near the top of the odds board. Despite being one of the most talented players in the field, there was nothing about Detroit Golf Club or Sedgefield Country Club that made me interested in betting him at those spots. The opposite is true about TPC Southwind.

When targeting Will Zalatoris for an outright bet, it’s most prudent to look for spots on the schedule where his immaculate ball striking can set him apart from the rest of them field.  The Rocket Mortgage Classic rewarded driving distance and wedge play. The Wyndham Championship rewarded the best putters and most accurate drivers.

This week, the FedEx St. Jude Championship will favor the best iron players who can ball strike their way to the top of the leaderboard. In the past, Strokes Gained: Putting hasn’t been a strong indicator of who will play well at TPC Southwind; which is great news for Zalatoris, who often struggles with the putter.

As evidenced by his three top-six finishes including two runners-up at major championships in 2022, Zalatoris can absolutely compete in the strongest of fields. In fact, I believe his chances to win in a star-studded event are higher than they are to win a lesser event on TOUR. The 25-year-old is a big game hunter who does his best work when the stakes are high.

The first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs is an excellent time for “Willy Z” to finally break through for his inevitable maiden PGA TOUR victory.

Sungjae Im (+3500)

As frustrating as it was being a Sungjae Im backer on Sunday at the Wyndham Championship, his overall performance and current hot streak can’t be overlooked.

The South Korean has now finished in a share for second place in back-to-back starts. In those two events, Im has gained an average of 8.5 strokes Ball Striking on the field, which includes both Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach. At a course where ball striking is the most important factor, he should be in store for another strong showing.

Im had his best Strokes Gained: Approach day on Sunday at the Wyndham, gaining 2.0 strokes on the field in the fourth round alone. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the putter going and lost 2.2 strokes putting while Tom Kim gained 4.5 on the day. If it weren’t for Kim’s unconscious effort with the putter, there’s a good chance that Sungjae would have notched another PGA TOUR victory.

If the 24-year-old can get the flat stick going this week, we may have back-to-back South Korean winners on the PGA TOUR.

Tyrrell Hatton (+6000)

It appears as if Tyrrell Hatton is trending toward a victory, as he’s playing arguably the best golf of his 2022 season. He finished 11th at the Open Championship and followed it up with an impressive performance at Wyndham, finishing eighth. In addition to his top-10 finish, the Englishman was impressive with his approach playing and gained 5.3 strokes on approach, which was good for sixth in the field.

Hatton got hot in his final round last week, shooting a 64. Oftentimes we see golfers who go low on the previous Sunday carry the momentum into the following tournament. Hatton is a much better player than he’s shown thus far in 2022, and it seems as if he’s found something ahead of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

If he has, TPC Southwind should be a good course for him as he finished in 17th last year and was in contention prior to a fourth round 72 that took him out of the running.

Russell Henley (+6000)

It’s fair to wonder whether Russell Henley can close out a victory on the PGA TOUR after witnessing him blow leads at last season’s Wyndham Championship and this season’s Sony Open. Considering that the FedEx Cup St. Jude Championship will be comprised of a much stronger field than either of those events makes it perfectly reasonable to question it even further. However, at his number, I’m willing to give it one more shot.

Henley is in the best form we’ve seen him in this season. In his past two starts, the 33-year-old has finishes of 10th and fifth and has gained 11 and 9.7 strokes from tee to green in those events. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Henley ranked seventh in the field in approach, and at the Wydham Championship, he ranked first.

TPC Southwind is a course that should fit Henley’s game to a tee. With a premium on iron play and hitting greens in regulation, the former Georgia Bulldog is a perfect fit. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a course where he doesn’t have to gain a bunch of strokes with the putter to win.

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