Scott Stallings: Getting Close
Why is this man smiling? Because he just crushed a dozen drives with high draws to the far end of the range. This photograph was snapped at the Humana Challenge in Palm Springs, where Scott Stallings opened with three bogey-free rounds to go to bed Saturday with a five-shot lead. Painfully, a wet approach on the final hole would keep him one shot out of the playoff won by Brian Gay. Cheerful as Stallings is, that wasn't when we asked him to step in front of our camera. We shot his swing two days before the tourney, when those dozen drives were the only practice balls he wanted before playing in that day's pro-am. When he's heating up, this slugger doesn't overthink it.
I think I have driving-range A.D.D.," Stallings says. "I almost never hit balls for more than half an hour. If I need to practice, I prefer to go on the course and hit shots."
Brad Rose, Stallings' coach since the golfer's freshman year at Tennessee Tech, likes this instinct, but says if Stallings would focus more on fundamentals such as alignment and ball position, he'd achieve his goal of a top-50 world ranking (he was ranked 106th in February). Fighting a rib injury last year, Stallings fell into the bad habit of aiming right of his target and pulling the ball.
"Like a lot of really athletic guys, Scott has a natural motion where he stands the shaft upright on his backswing and then flattens it on his downswing," Rose says. "As soon as he starts forward, it's almost like he's swinging a baseball bat."
According to Adam Kerley, director of D1 Sports Training and Therapy in Knoxville, Tenn., Stallings' intensity in the gym also conjures a ballplayer. "He doesn't work out like a golfer," Kerley says. "His desire and level of integrity rival anyone I've trained."
His stocky frame might lead you to think he's out of shape, but Rose says, "He's really changed his body mass and become one of the fittest guys on tour. The strength he has in his lower body is awesome, which is why he can grip the ground to create all that clubhead lag in the downswing."
Both swing coach and trainer agree that a key to unlocking Stallings' potential is increasing the mobility in his left hip.
"It's already better than it was," Rose says. "After impact I'd like to see his right knee closer to his left knee so his hips can continue to rotate through the shot."
-- Max Adler
Analysis by Brad Rose, director of instruction at Willow Creek Golf Club, Knoxville, Tenn.