PGA Championship | Get to Know Our Team TaylorMade Crusaders

August 2, 2020
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The most unique thing about the PGA Championship is that 20 club professionals get the opportunity to compete for a major title alongside the best golfers on the planet. During a regular week, these are the men and women who run golf shops, give lessons and serve as stewards of the game across the country. Within the walls of TaylorMade, we call them Crusaders because they’re on the frontline helping golfers everywhere to find more joy in the game.

At this week’s 102nd PGA Championship played at TPC Harding Park in the Bay Area, we have 8 Crusaders in the field going toe-to-toe with the likes of Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy. You know a lot about those guys, but very little about our 8 Crusaders. Let’s get to know them.

  • Happy Hollow Club
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • PGA Director of Instruction
  • PGA Championship Appearances: 4 (2017-20)

The golf accolade or achievement means the most to you?

Winning the 51st PGA Professional Championship and being a two-time National PGA Player of the Year.

How do you keep your game sharp while working a 9 to 5?

I keep my game sharp by never letting myself get too far away from it. While I may not get to play or practice as much as I would like to, I am always engaged in the game. Rarely does a day go by that I don't at least have a club in my hand and that has been very important for me. I have learned how to get the most out of short practice sessions. Sometimes less is more and if you can get 30 minutes of focused work in that can be all you need.

Describe the feeling of playing in a PGA Championship?

Playing in the PGA Championship is a huge accomplishment and I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it. It is very special to be able to earn my way into the field. It's always been my dream and my personal goal to compete at the games highest level. Every time I get to tee it up at the PGA, it is so exciting to be inside the ropes and soaking in the atmosphere of major championship golf.

The first thing you think when your hear “Team TaylorMade”…

When I hear Team TaylorMade I think family and support. Obviously, the performance and the product innovation are next level, but the Team part of it is what seals the deal. I know I have people invested in more than just helping me move products out the door. As a member of Team TaylorMade, I always have a small army of people I can rely on to be sure I have what I need.

No. of PGA Tour starts (outside of the PGA Championship)

6

Define your style of play in 5 words or less.

Measured and aggressive all at once.

What’s it like getting into the field in the U.S. Open this year?

Being a part of the U.S. Open field later this year is mind blowing to me, in all honesty. With everything that 2020 has been, it is crazy to think how fortunate I’ve been to get an exemption to play in the U.S. Open. The U.S. freaking Open! I mean, it's a tournament I began trying to qualify for when I was 13.

The best tip for beginning golfers is…

For beginner golfers I first suggest to really work on a good grip and a sound dynamic set up position. It is much easier to make good swings if you are in a good position to start.

Favorite Club In the Bag?

New SIM driver

TP5 or TP5x

TP5 pix

SIM or SIM Max

SIM

Fade or Draw

Fade

Favorite Course You’ve Played

Sand Hills

Dream Foursome

Hogan, Snead and my Dad

Lowest round

60 (twice)

No. of career hole in ones

7

First TaylorMade driver you remember playing

I’m pretty sure my first TaylorMade driver as a youngster was the Pittsburgh Persimmon Original One.

If you had to name your child after a golfer, what name would you choose?

Ryan Vermeer

WITB

  • SIM driver
  • 13° SIM Rocket 3wd
  • 18° SIM 5wd
  • P•7TW irons (4-PW)
  • Milled Grind 2 wedges (50°, 56° and 60°)
  • (I also carry a P•790 4i along with SIM 3 and 4 Rescues that I use depending on course needs)
  • Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club
  • Powell, Ohio
  • PGA Head Professional
  • PGA Championship Appearances: 11 (Too many to list)

11 PGA Championships! Does it ever get old?

Playing 11 PGA Championships, no it never gets old. Just means that I’m getting old! I love testing my game against the best players in the world on some of the world’s top courses.

Most memorable shot or experience from those 11?

My most memorable shot came from my first PGA Championship at Winged Foot in 1997. I’d never played in front of a crowd, and I was playing a practice round with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Back then I could hit it pretty far, but I was by no means accurate off the tee. I remember the crowd kept closing the gap in front of the tee to get a peek at my playing partners. I seriously thought I was hit the last person on the left in the face. Being nervous was a big understatement.

The competitive golf accolade/achievement that means the most to you?

It's the victory in the National Club Pro Championship in 2004 because it was the last time my dad was ever able to see me play competitive golf. He passed away later that year.

Describe what being a PGA Professional means to you?

To me, being a PGA Professional is such an honor because I can help shape the lives of so many young people. Golf is such a wonderful endeavor, and I love being able to leverage the game to have a positive influence on their future.

How do you keep your game sharp while working a 9 to 5?

Keeping my game sharp is difficult. I'd like to be able to play and practice every day, but don’t have the time nor energy to do so. My normal weekly routine is a Section tournament on Monday, teaching all day Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday. I try to practice some on Friday and hopefully play on Sunday. Keeping my game sharp boils down to getting it to peak every Monday. When I am able to practice, I spend 75% of whatever time I have working on 100 yards and in.

Define your style of play in 5 words or less.

Conservative aggression.

The best tip for beginning golfers is…

Start practicing from the green and work backward to the tee.

First thought that comes to mind when you hear “Team TaylorMade”...

When I hear Team TaylorMade, I immediately think about how proud I am a part of the best team and company in golf.

Favorite Club In the Bag?

This year it's is my SIM Max 5wd. I feel like I can hit it wherever I want on command.

300-yard drive or wedge to 5 feet?

Definitely wedge to 5 feet.

Draw or Fade

I work it both ways with every club in my bag except the driver. I ONLY want to see that club fade.

TP5 or TP5x

TP5x

SIM or SIM Max

SIM Max (driver, 3wd and 5wd)

Favorite Course You’ve Played

My favorite course in the world is Pebble Beach. Favorite PGA Championship I've played is Winged Foot.

Dream Foursome

Dad, my Brother, Ben Hogan and myself.

Lowest round

62

No. of career hole in ones

7, with 6 of those in competition

Favorite Netflix show?

Don’t watch Netflix

First TaylorMade driver you remember playing

Tour Burner

If you had to name your child after a golfer, what name would you choose?

Benjamin, after Hogan.

WITB

  • Crane Lakes Golf Club
  • Port Orange, Florida
  • PGA Head Professional
  • PGA Championship Appearances: 7 (2012-14, 2016-2017, 2019-20)


The competitive golf accolade/achievement that means the most to you?

Winning the 2013 PGA of America National Championship. Being the best in any given year of the 28,000 PGA of America members and apprentices, as well as representing the organization as the National Champion means the most.

You’re a lefty on the course. Are you a lefty in life?

Grew up playing baseball and always bated left-handed. Just made sense to swing a golf club the same way.

Where does growing the game rank among a PGA Professional’s responsibilities?

It should certainly be a top priority for everyone who is a PGA Professional, regardless of their position in the industry. Personally, I put it in my top 3 only taking a back seat to overseeing the golf operation as my employer sees fit and my teaching programs.

How do you keep your game sharp while working a 9 to 5?

Sometimes I wish it was a 9 to 5. Honestly, my schedule is crazy. No two weeks are ever the same, just ask my wife. Scheduling is a difficult thing. We wear so many hats that those duties just can't be stuffed into a routine schedule. I have always enjoyed the process of getting better. It’s a never-ending process of trying to be better today than I was yesterday. I honestly don’t think I will ever stop trying to improve.

Most memorable shot during competition?

I had to come back on a Saturday morning to finish my second round at the Gin Sur Mer Classic, which was a PGA Tour event several years back. Darkness had set in and I just couldn’t finish the final hole on Friday, so marked my ball and I had to come back the next morning. I made a 30-footer with a big left-to-right break to make the cut on the number. It was my first made cut on the PGA Tour. I just remember all the family and friends that got back up early on a Saturday morning to support me for one last hole and there was no way I was going to let them down.

Describe the feeling of playing in a PGA Championship?

This will be my sixth, so I kind of know what to expect. I'm over the shock of seeing the big names in the world of golf. The guys are people, just like you and me, out to do a job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolute honor and pleasure to get the chance to play, but I'm here for the same reason they are. To compete and play my best golf.

The best tip for beginning golfers is…

Learn to hold the club the correct way and then understand how a golf club is designed to work. Usually a good lesson or two will make learning the game much easier. This game is downright hard, and far too many people quit without giving themselves the chance to learn the right way. Learn how each club is designed to work.

First thought that comes to mind when you hear “Team TaylorMade”...

Commitment. Commitment to me as a professional golfer from a company that leads the way in every category of the industry.

Favorite Club In the Bag?

Putter. It has to be, it’s the most important.

Draw or Fade

Depends on the shot that’s called for, but fades are easier for me.

TP5 or TP5x.

TP5x

SIM or SIM Max

SIM Max

Favorite Course You’ve Played.

Pebble Beach. The land It sits on and the history of the championships it has hosted are unmatched.

Dream Foursome.

My two kids (who are both loving the game) and my grandfather. He's the one that got me Into It.

Lowest round.

59 at a local club here In Ormond Beach.

No. of career hole in ones.

15

Favorite Netflix show?

Peaky Blinders. I was addicted and just couldn’t stop watching.

First TaylorMade driver you remember playing.

The Original one. I was in high school.

If you had to name your child after a golfer, what name would you choose?

Palmer. He was the man and my grandfathers idol.

WITB

  • 10.5° SIM Max driver
  • 15° M5 3wd
  • 19° M3 Rescue
  • P•790 (4 iron)
  • P•770 (5-PW)
  • Milled Grind 2 wedges (52°, 56° & 60°)
  • Spider X putter
  • Davis Park Golf Course
  • Kaysville, Utah
  • PGA Assistant Pro
  • PGA Championship Appearances: 2 (2019, 2020)

How do you keep your game sharp while working a 9 to 5?

As a PGA Club Professional we can only dream of 9 to 5. During the summer, hours and days are long! The golf game isn't the first priority, so you have to learn what works for you as a player and learn to practice productively.

When you go to the tee box at a PGA Championship, has anyone ever thought you were that other guy?

In 2018 fans were very confused with two Zach Johnsons in the field. I was able to sign A LOT of autographs on his behalf!

Describe the feeling of playing in a PGA Championship?

It still gives me goosebumps to think of playing in the PGA Championship. It's a dream come true to be able to tee it up with the world's best. I can't wait for another great experience.

Define your style of play in 5 words or less.

Simple, play fast and boring.

Favorite club in the bag?

60° Hi-Toe

TP5 or TP5x?

TP5, I prefer the softer feel around the green.

Favorite course you’ve played…

Pebble Beach

Dream Foursome

Since it's my dream, we're playing as five. Tiger, my two boys, George and Jack when they are old enough, and my dad Charlie.

Lowest round

59 at Mountain View Golf Course.

No. of career hole in ones

7, including one on a par 4.

First TaylorMade driver you remember playing

Burner Bubble for days!

If you had to name your child after a golfer, what name would you choose?

We kind of already did. George Seve Johnson. Hope he has the short game to match!

WITB

  • 10.5° SIM Max driver
  • 15° SIM 3wd
  • 19° SIM Max Rescue
  • P•770 (4-PW)
  • Milled Grind 2 Raw wedges (52° & 56°), Hi-Toe (60°)
  • Truss TB1 putter
  • Falmouth Country Club
  • Falmouth, Maine
  • PGA Teaching Professional
  • PGA Championship Appearances: 2 (2018, 2020)

Biggest win of your playing career?

TaylorMade National Championship at Pebble Beach in 2019.

Most memorable shot during competition?

Nailed a 30’ putt on 18th hole of 2019 New England PGA Championship to win.

How do you keep your game sharp while working a 9 to 5?

I use any downtime during the day to work on my short game.

In your own words, what does it mean to be a PGA Professional?

It’s great to be part of such a well-run organization (the PGA of America) promoting the game of golf. I love going to the course every day and helping players of all abilities to improve their game.

Describe the feeling of playing in a PGA Championship?

It is very exciting to have the opportunity to get out and play with the best players In the world.

The best tip for beginning golfers is…

Don’t get frustrated and have realistic expectations.

First thought that comes to mind when you hear “Team TaylorMade”...

Industry leader and superior performance.

Favorite Club In the Bag?

Putter

300-yard drive or wedge to 5 feet?

Wedge to 5 feet.

Draw or Fade

Fade

TP5 or TP5x

TP5x

SIM or SIM Max

SIM

Favorite Course You’ve Played

Pebble Beach

Dream Foursome

Myself/Joe Warren (my father) vs. Shawn McCurdy/ Manny Garcia (two members from Falmouth)

Lowest Round

60 at oak hill

No. of Career Hole in Ones

7

First TaylorMade driver you remember playing

SLDR

If you had to name your child after a golfer, what name would you choose?

Lexi

WITB

  • 9° SIM driver
  • 15° SIM 3wd
  • 19° SIM 5wd
  • P•770 (4-7 iron)
  • P•730 (8-PW)
  • Milled Grind 2 Wedges (52°, 56° & 60°)
  • Spider X putter
  • Hanson’s Golf Shop
  • Fort Dodge, Iowa
  • PGA Teaching Professional
  • PGA Championship Appearances: 1 (2020)

You had a long career on the mini tours…Life as a PGA Pro or life on the Tours?

I guess I always had the best of both worlds. I became a PGA Apprentice in 1992 here in Iowa, and I would spend my winters playing all, although over mostly in Florida.

What was it like to come back and coach at your alma mater, Iowa State.

It was a huge honor to go back and help my good friend and head coach Jay Horton. I learned really fast coaching at the Division 1 level has very little to do with coaching. It's all about your ability to recruit and cultivate talent. It was a fun couple of years and I learned a lot.

Most meaningful golf accomplishment (on course and off the course).

Hopefully my most meaningful moment in golf has yet to come, but being inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame was big for me.

Where does growing the game rank among a PGA Professional’s responsibilities?

Growing the game is a big part of what we do as PGA Professionals. I’ve led junior golf camps for 26 years and have loved every minute.

Biggest win of your playing career?

I think the first time I won the Iowa PGA Section Championship was the biggest. I'd been Section Player of the Year 5 times without winning it. I played in the final pairing in 7 straight championships, and then finally won in a playoff in 2009.

How do you keep your game sharp while working a 9 to 5?

I've been lucky. Other than a 2 year stint as a Director of Golf, I've always been in teaching. While I don’t play everyday, I always have a club in my hand.

Describe the feeling of playing in a PGA Championship?

It's a bit strange in that I got in on a point list from last year, but I'll take it. I've missed making it in by one shot on three separate occasions. So I'm happy to be teeing it.

No. of PGA Tour starts (outside the PGA)

2. It would have been 3, as I was in the field for the John Deere this year before it was canceled.

The best tip for beginning golfers is…

Look up a PGA Professional and start with a series of lessons.

First thought that comes to mind when you hear “Team TaylorMade”...

The best!!

Favorite Club In the Bag?

Driver

300-yard drive or wedge to 5 feet?

I guess since 300 is out of reach, I'll take the wedge!

Draw or Fade

Fade

TP5 or TP5x

TP5

SIM or SIM Max

SIM Max

Favorite Course You’ve Played

Pebble Beach

Dream Foursome

My son Andrew, my dad and my uncle Ed.

Lowest round

63 at Lakeside Golf Course

No. of career hole in ones

7

First TaylorMade driver you remember playing

The Original One, 12° with a women's flex shaft. It was 1983 or 84, I was 13 and could hit it off the ground or tee

If you had to name your child after a golfer, what name would you choose?

Arnie

WITB

  • 10.5° SIM Max driver 10.5
  • 15° M3 3wd
  • GAPR LO
  • P•770 irons (4 –PW)
  • Spider X putter


  • Trump National D.C.
  • Sterling, Virginia
  • PGA Director of Golf
  • PGA Championship Appearances: 2 (2019-20)
Where does growing the game rank among the PGA Professional’s responsibility?

Growing the game ranks extremely high on my responsibility as a PGA Professional, it's truly part of what we are called to do.

How do you balance that responsibility with keeping your game sharp and competition ready?

It’s hard to balance the responsibility of working and preparing for the PGA. I came out early to give myself a little extra practice.

Describe the feeling of playing in a PGA Championship?

Playing in a PGA Championship is an incredible feeling. Getting a chance to play with the best players in the world is an opportunity I don’t take lightly.

What are your expectations for the course at TPC Harding Park?

I'm hoping that it’s not as hard as Bethpage Black.

Define your style of play in 5 words or less.

Ball striking.

The best tip for beginning golfers is…

Try to have fun, cus' this game will beat you up.

TP5 or TP5x

TP5x

SIM or SIM Max

SIM

Fade or Draw

Draw

Favorite Course You’ve Played

Royal County Down

Dream Foursome

Tiger, Michael Jordan and Steph Curry.

Lowest round

62

No. of career hole in ones

6

If you had to name your child after a golfer, what name would you choose?

The kid's name would be Jack.

WITB

  • 9° SIM driver
  • 15° M2 3wd
  • 19° M5 5wd
  • 22° M5 7wd
  • P•7MC (4-PW)
  • Milled Grind 2 wedges (52° and 58°)
  • Spider X putter
  • Vesper Country Cub
  • Tyingsboro, Massachusetts
  • PGA Director of Instruction
  • PGA Championship Appearances: 5 (2016-20)

The golf accolade/achievement that means the most to you?

Winning the PGA Professional Championship in 2016. By far the highlight of my playing career.

How do you keep your game sharp while working a 9 to 5?

It's hard to do. I'm always trying to find an hour here or 30 minutes there. A lot of times it comes down to a tough decision: Either eat lunch or hit balls.

In your own words, what does it mean to be a PGA Professional?

Following the footsteps of my father. Growing up with a PGA Professional in my life, seeing his hard work and his dedication to the game...That means a lot to me.

Describe the feeling of playing in a PGA Championship?

It's a week filled with excitement and emotion. No matter how many times I play it, those feelings never go away.

No. of PGA Tour starts (outside of the PGA Championship)

6

Most memorable shot during competition?

I'll never forget the putt made in 72nd hole to win the PGA Professional Championship in 2016.

The best tip for beginning golfers is…

Make sure you have the perfect grip.

Favorite Club In the Bag?

Driver

300-yard drive or wedge to 5 feet?

Wedge, for sure.

TP5 or TP5x

TP5

SIM or SIM Max

SIM Max

Favorite Course You’ve Played

Eastward Ho! Golf Club

Dream Foursome Dad, self, Ben Hogan, Rory McIlroy

Lowest round 62

No. of career hole in ones

3

If you had to name your child after a golfer, what name would you choose? Ben

WITB

  • 10.5° SIM Max driver
  • 15° SIM 3wd 15 degrees
  • GAPR Lo
  • P•7MC (3-6 iron)
  • P•7MB (7-PW)
  • Milled Grind 2 Wedges (52° & 58°)
Original photos Courtesy of the PGA of America.Expand
Original photos Courtesy of the PGA of America.