DUBLIN, Ohio – In the age of the celebrity golf instructor, arguably the hottest swing guru on the PGA Tour this season is a self-described redneck with an affinity for simple that you’ve never heard of.
We all know Butch, Sean, and Chris, but ask a group of average golf fans who Scott Hamilton is and visions of the gold medal-winning Olympic skater come to mind.
That’s exactly how the other Hamilton likes it.
“Man, I just take real complicated stuff and make it easier,” Hamilton said.
If you’re not familiar with Hamilton’s work, you haven’t been paying attention.
The 50-year-old club professional is the coach for the last two Tour winners – Chris Kirk at the Crowne Plaza Invitational and Steven Bowditch at the AT&T Byron Nelson – as well as last week’s winner on the Web.com Tour, Kyle Thompson.
So it’s no big surprise that two more of Hamilton’s players are in the hunt this week at the Memorial; Harris English and Brendon Todd who tied for fifth at Muirfield Village.
As impressive as that lineup may be, it’s the different swings of his stable of Tour players that says the most about Hamilton. There is little, if anything, that even the most astute observers could compare between, say, Kirk and Bowditch’s swings, which is the way Hamilton likes it.
In short, the longtime head pro at Cartersville (Ga.) Country Club in is the anti-method teacher.
“I take a guy’s basic pattern and try to tighten that up,” he said. “I’m not an instructor as much as I am a calibrator. With Brendon, we are working on his backswing plane, but with Boo [Weekley], I’m working on where his club is at the top. I tell each one of them totally different things.”
Put another way, Hamilton said he is a “plane-and-clubface guy.” Just don’t confuse simplicity for simple.
On any given week Hamilton can be spotted working the Tour range with his always-present TrackMan machine, and back home in Cartersville, his studio includes a high-tech SAM PuttLab and another device that measures foot pressure.
Like most modern teachers, Hamilton has embraced technology. Where he deviates from the pack is how he applies that information.
“I use TrackMan way differently, not to teach the swing but more as an impact monitor,” Hamilton said in his signature folksy tone. “A lot of stuff I see I can’t explain. It’s half art.”
On Thursday, Thompson – who won last week’s Rex Hospital Open on the Web.com Tour – tweeted a screenshot of his voice mails that inadvertently demonstrated Hamilton’s no-nonsense approach.
Thompson was referencing a voicemail from Steve Spurrier – joking that “It’s not every day that the ol’ ball coach calls. Sorry coach, but I’m out of eligibility,” – but also revealed three messages left by Hamilton on Sunday, none of which were more than 9 seconds long.
“It was just simple stuff,” Hamilton laughed when asked about the messages.
While that seems to be his theme, his work with Bowditch reveals the lengths Hamilton will go to assure success.
When the duo began working together in 2009, the Australian had dropped off the Tour and hadn’t come close to reclaiming his card on the Web.com Tour.
“I’m most proud of Bowditch; he was just lost when we started,” Hamilton said.
Since then Bowditch has three victories, two on the PGA Tour and one on the Web.com circuit, and has drastically improved his driving, which is Hamilton’s calling card.
“He’s not just been my coach, he’s one of my closest friends as well,” said Bowditch, who opened with a 3-under 69 on Thursday at Muirfield Village and was tied for 20th place. “We’ve come a long way. He’s one of the biggest reasons I’m standing here talking to you at the Memorial. He’s had a major impact getting me to this level.”
It’s no surprise that Hamilton has become the go-to Tour coach for players looking to improve their driving – and, no, Tiger Woods has never asked him for advice.
English has improved his driving accuracy while maintaining his distance since the two began working together, and Kirk won his second Tour title (the 2013 McGladrey Classic) the week he brought Hamilton onboard.
Hamilton recently added Aaron Baddeley to his stable, and at 202nd on Tour in driving accuracy the Australian may be his greatest project. But Hamilton welcomes the challenge.
“It’s plane and clubface, the most basic stuff,” he laughed. “I tell all my guys, ‘Shoot, you’ve only got a second [at impact].’”
At this rate, that’s about the same amount of time Hamilton has before he joins the list of celebrity swing coaches.