By Kiel Christianson
Chris Rowe is currently the Head Golf Professional at Whispering Pines Golf Club, just outside of Houston. Before Whispering Pines, he was at the historic Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, site of this week’s PGA Tour stop, the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
Rowe has been nominated to Golf Digest's and Golf Magazine's Top 100 instructor lists, and has contributed to the former on several occasions. He has had one student who made it through PGA Tour Qualifying School to earn a tour card and has taught four high school state champions.
More than a dozen of Rowe’s junior students have gone on to play collegiate golf. Before launching into Five Questions, we asked Rowe for some insight into how a course like Colonial prepares for one of the Tour's premier events. Here's what he said:
"Colonial prepares the course months before the event date. Merchandise pours in everyday and when tournament week arrives they will have a full 18-wheeler packed from front to back with merchandise. I've never priced so many hats and shirts as I did when I worked at Colonial! The rough will be extra thick and all the members play as much as they can before the event with the course conditions being pristine. The Horrible Horseshoe is a wonderful three-hole stretch starting on the 3rd hole and ending on the 5th hole. These three holes test the players as well as any three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour. The players need to be under par after the first two holes and hope to hang on the next three. Colonial is a wonderful old style course that still tests the players, but unfortunately the advancements in technology and golf course maintenance practices have made many of the great old courses play short. The tour players who say you can't hit driver are mistaken. Kenny Perry and Phil Mickelson have both won two Colonials and bomb their drivers. The greatness about Colonial is that a long player can win along with a player like Cory Pavin or Nick Price. There are very few courses on the PGA Tour where you have to work the ball more than Colonial. Fort Worth is my favorite city and Colonial will always have a special place in my heart."
SwingFix Five Questions
1. First off, talk briefly about your golf instruction philosophy and how you preach it at your facility.
ROWE: My teaching philosophy is that every golfer falls into one of two impact positions. Rounded Impact and Target Impact are the two impacts I have built my philosophy around. Target impact would be considered old school with timing and tempo being the driving force. Target impact players use their hands to square the face at impact and the club points toward the target just after the ball is struck. Rounded impact is the modern swing with less hands and more body rotation to square the face. Players with rounded impacts cover the ball and the club works immediately left of the target after the ball is struck.
2. What attracted you to the SwingFix platform and how effective can this method be for golfers?
ROWE: Vikki Vanderpool called and asked me if I would be interested in being an instructor. I love teaching the game and thought what a great idea for people who do not have access to quality instructors or the ability to get an affordable lesson. There have been so many different students sending in their swings since I started working with SwingFix. It has really been fun to hear the comments from the students who have had great improvement from their lesson.
3. In your opinion, what is the secret to taking the "range game" to the first tee?
ROWE: Practice like you want to play. If you ask students on the range what they are working on or where they are aiming they couldn't tell you most of the time. Have a specific goal in mind when you get to the range. If you don't have a goal then go to the course and play. It does you NO GOOD to practice without a purpose. Have specific targets that you have to hit five balls in row to that target. Hit five drives in a row to a certain area of the range before you go to the first tee. The range is huge and you're not going to miss it! Practice like you want to play and you will play like you practice.
4. Is there a particular training aid that you tend to use most regularly and with the most effectiveness?
ROWE: This will sound funny, but I use a pink swing noodle more than any of my teaching aids that I have purchased at the PGA Merchandise Shows. The best way to help a student's swing plane is to place the noodle over their shoulder or on the ground next to the ball. It is hard to describe in writing, but you can change a student's path by placing the swing noodle in the correct position.
5. Is there a way students who have worked with you most often dramatically improve and achieve that coveted five-shot drop in scores? Power, consistency, short game, management, playing more golf, etc.?
ROWE: Once the fundamentals are in place the instructor should become a coach. I truly believe as an instructor you should diagnose the problem and have a solution before the lesson is over. I don't go to a doctor to get my symptoms fixed! I go to a doctor to get my infection fixed, which will take care of the symptoms. Once the student has an understanding of their swing flaws you then challenge them with games and skill assessments to show them where they are with their game. Many students I work with have to go through numerous tests and challenges I put them through before we ever move forward. When the student reaches the course, they have been tested so much in their lesson they are able to perform.
Take a lesson with Chris Rowe.