The staff at the PGA Tour Performance Center can’t guarantee they’ll get every student hitting like a Tour pro.
But they can guarantee the same tools, service, resources and attention that the best players in the world receive when they stop by to hone their games or tweak their equipment.
The new Performance Center, housed in its 15,000-square foot building nestled in the corner of the TPC Sawgrass practice range, became operational a week after the final round of The Players Championship will have its grand opening on July 11.
Director of instruction Todd Anderson, the 2010 PGA of America teacher of the year and former director of the Sea Island Golf Performance Center, said his staff will be providing new-age technology and old-school teaching methods to get handicaps and scores heading south.
“We want to make sure everyone has a great experience, it’s fun, they feel like they got great information, great service and in the best environment to learn in the best facility to be able to experience what we’re trying to show them,” Anderson said.
And the Performance Center won’t be open just to Sawgrass Marriott resort guests and members of the TPC Sawgrass. The facility is open to the public, either through individual lessons or group clinics.
It’s not cheap: individual instruction ranges from $ 200 per hour in the putting lab (which is operated by Andrew Lanahan, a Bishop Kenny graduate who played college golf at LSU) to $ 225 per hour for full-game instruction with instructor Jordan Dempsey.
Pricing can change depending on group settings and resort packages. There are also junior rates.
It’s higher per hour to work with Anderson but the 100 or so professionals on the PGA Tour, LPGA, Web.com Tour and PGA Tour Champions with whom he has worked in the past well say he’s worth it — including FedEx Cup champions Billy Horschel and Brandt Snedeker.
Anderson is a fixture almost every year on the Golf Digest list of top-50 teachers and Golf magazine’s top-100 teachers.
The Performance Center also includes a fitness room on the top floor, with full-time instructor Alex Bennett; and a full-time club-fitter, Josh Gumila. The fitness center focuses primarily on helping golfers develop better flexibility and strength for their core muscles.
The club-fitting bay features equipment from most major brands, such as Titleist, Taylor-Made, Callaway, Ping and Cobra. The fitting area also provides club repairs.
The technology is state of the art, and can track every aspect of club and ball movement off the club, mechanics of the swing and how the body moves.
There’s the “K-Vest 3D,” essentially a human motion learning system. Or “TrackMan Dual Radar Technology,” which measures everything a club does from address to follow-through.
The “BodiTrak” mat can measure how much pressure a player puts on different parts of his or her feet through the swing, in order to promote better balance.
Computers store every bit of information for each client: ball speed, clubhead speed, carry distance, roll distance, how much the clubface is open or closed. It also stores video of the swings.
However, Anderson knows that technology only goes so far.
“We don’t tell the students everything,” he said. “We identify how much information they can handle and pick out the things we think are causing the problems. The key to teaching is not so much what the information is but can you change that information in the direction that’s going to help a student play better.”
A myriad of questions have to be answered: is a player slicing because he’s not flexible enough to get a good turn? Or is it because he’s flexible enough but doesn’t have good mechanics? Maybe the mechanics and the flexibility are good but is the player is using shafts with flex that is too stiff or clubheads that are forged, with a smaller sweet spot?
Anderson said the facility can answer all of those questions.
“Technology is great but it just gives you an identify, a number,” he said. “The real skill is can we, as teachers, communicate the changes they need to make to move those numbers in a positive director to help lower their scores.”