Sultan of Sawgrass: Todd Anderson tames Pete Dye’s masterpiece

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MARCH 29: Photographs of Todd Anderson, Director of Instruction at TPC Sawgrass, working with clients on the range at TPC Sawgrass on March 29, 2017 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Ryan Young/PGA TOUR) Ryan Young/PGA TOUR

Sultan of Sawgrass: Todd Anderson tames Pete Dye’s masterpiece

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Sultan of Sawgrass: Todd Anderson tames Pete Dye’s masterpiece

After 13 years at Sea Island Resort, noted instructor Todd Anderson this year moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to direct the PGA Tour’s Performance Center at TPC Sawgrass. Golfweek asked Anderson about the Performance Center and his teaching philosophy.

Golfweek: When you were young and learning the game, what was the best piece of advice you received that you still pass on to your current students?

Anderson: You get out of the game what you put into the game. If you want to be a good player, you must put in the time and work on the right things. You also need a good game plan to improve. Commit to the plan and execute it. It’s also important to understand you need to be patient. Sometimes things work right away, other things take time. There’s no magic potion. You have to have determination when facing adversity, and when things aren’t going well, you still have to love the process of going out and trying to improve. Always believe in yourself and what you are doing.

Golfweek: What differentiates the TPC Sawgrass Performance Center from other teaching centers?

Anderson: We take each player and assess them individually. We put them through various evaluations to see how their body, equipment and mind function. We use the latest technology to test their skills and abilities in all aspects of the game – putting, short game, wedge game, long game and so on. This allows us to give them a handicap in each area. A player may be a 12 handicap, yet play like a 2 handicap in putting and a 22 with their driver. What we try to do is break down the different parts of the game so each player has a clear picture of the areas they can improve.

Golfweek: What piece of Performance Center technology have you found to be most effective in your teaching?

Anderson: The Trackman. It tells the story of what the club and ball are doing during the swing. It gives you data to quantify whether the changes you’ve made are helping the student move in the desired direction.

Golfweek: What’s a good estimate on the percentage of your amateur students who have equipment that is not suited for their games?

Anderson: I encourage students to have their equipment evaluated on a regular basis. If you look at a player’s set of clubs, from the driver down through the putter, there is usually something that can be improved. As new technology comes out and players’ abilities change, their equipment needs to be adjusted.

Golfweek: What’s the most prevalent mistake that mid-handicappers make in their golf swings?

Anderson: High-handicap players tend to over-accelerate the club head on the downswing and hit the ball with the shaft leaning backwards. This adds loft and doesn’t allow them to compress the ball. Their 7-iron becomes the loft of an 8-iron and they lose distance.

Golfweek: What advice do you give to your amateur students who are preparing to play TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course for the first time?

Anderson: Pete Dye designed this course to challenge players from tee to green. If you take the conservative route off the tee, you will have a more difficult angle into the green. If you take the aggressive line from the tee, you’ll have a better angle to the green. If a player is out of position off the tee, they should try to play a conservative shot and get the ball back in play. Most greens at Stadium Course are narrow – it’s best to be chipping the length of the green rather than chipping from side to side. For most players, it’s just trying to avoid the big number by not compounding mistakes.

(Note: This story appears in Golfweek’s Ultimate Guide.)

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