When golf fans turn on the television and watch the PGA tour, they often see big-name golfers, maybe a shot of that golfer’s family along with the leaderboard and some crowd shots.
Often overlooked, but vital to what transpires on the course are the golf teachers that help the PGA pros to their successes.
Possibly no better teacher is more overlooked than Cartersville’s own Scott Hamilton, who teaches some of the best golfers in the world.
This weekend, Scott Hamilton Golf Academy PGA star Steven Bowditch won his second PGA Tour event at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Irving, Texas. The week prior, another Scott Hamilton Golf Academy pupil, Chris Kirk, won the Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas for his fourth tour event win.
“I’ve had a lot of success in Texas,” Hamilton said of two of his golfers taking back-to-back PGA Tour events. “I had two guys win there last year. I don’t know what that has to do with anything. I just teach some of the world’s best players, and it just kind of lined up.”
Hamilton teaches “14 or 15” PGA Tour golfers and four won a PGA event last year. Kirk is the highest ranked and is currently 16th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Hamilton also teaches, among others, Russell Henley, the 53rd-ranked player in the world; Brendon Todd, ranked No. 54; Bowditch, ranked No. 65; Harris English, ranked No. 70; and Boo Weekley, ranked No. 120.
Hamilton, the director of golf and instruction at Cartersville Country Club since 1993, was named “The Best Golf Teacher You Have Never Heard Of” by golf.com in February. He also was named the PGA of America — Georgia Section Teacher of the Year in 2007.
“When I got in golf, I thought I’d give lessons to club members, but it wasn’t ever my goal. I just kind of got good at it,” Hamilton said of his success on the PGA Tour. “I got in golf to be a club professional and run club events, and just one thing morphed into this. You know how your life’s journey goes.
“I’m excited about it. It’s fun.”
Hamilton has a unique way of teaching that involves an open-minded, simple approach, but with aid of some complicated technology.
“Just the method I teach, I think, works, and the thing about me is I don’t try to make everybody the same guy. A lot of teachers kind of have one golf swing. They kind of teach everybody the same thing. I pretty much take guys and just adjust what they do and try to make it better,” Hamilton said of what has made him so successful as a golf instructor. “A guy like Boo Weekley swings at a way different speed than Bowditch. Boo wags it a ton and Bowditch doesn’t wag it as much. There’s just a lot of different ways you can do it. If you walk up and down on the tour, they’re all swinging at it kind of the same, but a lot different.
“I love technology and I have tons of technology, and I kind of know how to use it, simplify it for them. I think the thing that I’m the best at is I can take something that’s really complicated and make it simple. So many instructors complicate and make swing thought so complicated. I pretty much simplify it for them.”
Hamilton grew up in Missouri and went to the University of Missouri, but did not play golf there. He began teaching golf in the mid-1980s.
“I played as a kid, and after I got out of college, I didn’t know what to do with myself so I got into the club pro business,” Hamilton said of his start. “I went to Hilton Head, worked at Harbour Town as an assistant. And then I got the head pro job in Cartersville in 1993, and as a head golf professional here at the club in about ’97, maybe ’98.”
Hamilton began working with Jason Bohn after he graduated from Alabama in 1995. Bohn is currently the 102nd-ranked player in the world.
“I built a teaching bay here at Cartersville Country Club at the end of the range, and I taught before and had a little car I pulled out and had a little video camera and stuff,” Hamilton said. “But then I built a bay and a guy [Bohn] moved to the club out of college. I haven’t taught him for probably about three years, but he was the first tour guy I probably ever had. And then I got a relationship with Cleveland Golf where they put one of their tour vans down here and that introduction with me already teaching a tour guy is where I started meeting a lot of different tour players. One thing led to the next and then I had a lot of success over the last few years.”
Hamilton said sometimes his players travel to Cartersville and work in his bay, but he also travels with the tour “about 35 weeks a year.” He said he choose carefully the players he brings to Cartersville.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I can kind of pick who I want to teach now, which is great. I have a lot of opportunities to help guys and I really get particular in who I teach,” Hamilton said. “I really only try to teach guys that fit in the group that I have because they really need to help me as a team out on the road where they play practice rounds and practice together. All my guys are all friends with each other. So you kind of have to have a team, and I have some guys that are great chippers and other guys that are great putters and my guys help each other.”
Despite his travel to different courses on the PGA Tour, Hamilton said his home is still in Cartersville.
“I love it. I love this place. I wouldn’t go anywhere else unless they run me off,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been director of golf here at the club for 20 some-odd years. Lisa [his wife] and I own some other businesses. We own Blue Sky Outfitter and some other stuff, so I love Cartersville. I was from a small town. So you’re from a small town, but so close to the city, it’s as good as it gets for me, for my personality.”