Golf Digest editors picks
2011 Ranking

Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers

November 2010
EDITOR'S NOTE: Much has been made of the youth explosion on the PGA Tour in 2010, with players 30 or under winning nearly half of the events through August, including the last three majors. A similar phenomenon is happening on tour practice tees: Teachers in their 30s, even their 20s, are squeezing between the Butch Harmons and David Leadbetters. Here we recognize these young stars with a new list: Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers. But this is not just about teaching tour players; in fact, most of these men and women spend their days with golfers like you, at clubs and golf schools across the country--in 21 states, to be exact. To pick them, we started with our Top 20 Teachers Under 40, then we exhausted our industry contacts to find candidates to survey and interview. Finally, we settled on 40 great teachers under 40 (see ranking below).We begin with 36-year-old Sean Foley, who has been working with Tiger, and the rest follow in alphabetical order. Check them out, try their two-minute tips, and look for them in every issue.

MEET THE TOUR'S HOTTEST TEACHER

SEAN FOLEY
36 | RATE: $250/HR.
WINTER GARDEN, FLA.

In his office next to the practice tee at Orange County National Golf Center near Orlando, Sean Foley is taking an air-conditioned break from a steamy August morning when he notices a conspicuously placed magazine on his desk. It's open, and the article displayed asks a question in big, block letters: "WHO IS SEAN FOLEY?"

"Who cares?" Foley replies, after reading the headline out loud.

Before this summer, that question could have been rhetorical. He was a promising golf instructor who was quietly assembling a stable of PGA Tour pros, including Hunter Mahan, Sean O'Hair, Stephen Ames and Justin Rose. But then Tiger Woods took notice and asked him to look at his swing. The two have since been spotted working together several times, and now everyone wants to know more about the guy working with Tiger.

"The other day," Foley says, "my parents called me. They said a TV crew was knocking on their door for an interview. This is insane, eh?"

That "eh" is telling. Foley was born outside Toronto and lived in Canada for several years. At age 10, he learned the basics of golf from his dad and grew to love the game. But he says he never had aspirations of being a professional golfer. Instead, he recalls attending the Canadian Open one year and watching David Leadbetter work with Nick Faldo. "I remember thinking how cool Leadbetter's job must be," he says. By 15, Foley was learning all he could about the swing, even studying Homer Kelley's technically explicit book The Golfing Machine. Adding to his diverse experience in the game, Foley played college golf at Tennessee State, a historically black university.

"I learned there that you have to be yourself," says Foley, who graduated in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in political science and philosophy. "You can't fake anything. People will know." "He's a deep thinker," O'Hair says of Foley. "Not just about the golf swing, but about life in general."

Foley, the newest Golf Digest Teaching Professional, has studied everything from kinesiology to Eastern philosophies to geometry to improve his teaching. "I don't necessarily know what's right," he says. "But I know enough about the golf swing to know what's wrong." --Ron Kaspriske

Sean Foley's Tips For Power
Sean Foley

Tips For Power

1. LET THE LOWER BODY TURN

To generate power, you might have been told you need to create torque by holding your hips back as you turn your upper body away from the target. But this can restrict your backswing and inhibit your ability to swing down from inside the target line and hit the ball solidly. Instead, allow your lower body (hips and pelvis) to turn away from the target with your upper body. Not only will this give you room to swing the club down from the inside, it will allow you to load up for a tremendous hit.
Sean Foley's Tips For Power
2. SHORTEN YOUR BACKSWING

Images of John Daly taking the club well past parallel left many golfers with the idea that a long backswing is the key to smashing the ball. But most golfers don't have Daly's hand-eye coordination and, no matter how much they increase their clubhead speed, that extra-long swing makes it very difficult to hit the ball flush. Solid contact is more important than clubhead speed. You'd fare better by shortening your swing, which will help you hit the ball with the center of the clubface.
Sean Foley's Tips For Power
3. USE THE GROUND FOR LEVERAGE

Too often amateurs try to maintain their address posture as they swing down to the ball. Many have been told to do this to counter their instinct to stand straight up as the club approaches impact, which leads to poor contact. Instead, feel as if you're squatting as you start the downswing. The best way to increase your power is to use the ground as leverage. As you start down, really push into the turf with your left leg. You'll feel as if your body dips then rises as you hit the ball.
TAKE THE GOLF DIGEST CLINIC
Golf Digest On Demand

TAKE THE GOLF DIGEST CLINIC

To see Sean Foley (on left) and other Best Young Teachers in action, sign up for the new Golf Digest Clinic video series. Beginning with Foley, you'll get an hour of instruction from a new teacher each month. Foley's topics include full-swing basics and power. Next month: Kevin Smeltz on ball-striking and pitching. The price is $9.99 a month, and you can opt out at any time. Go to golfdigest.com/ondemand

The Best Young Teachers At A Glance

AVERAGE AGE: 34
YEARS TEACHING: 12
AVERAGE HOURLY RATE: $147
TEACHING HOURS PER WEEK: 39

POPULAR LOCATIONS:
Florida (5), Texas (5), California (4)

MOST BIG-NAME STUDENTS:
Sean Foley (5): Stephen Ames, Hunter Mahan, Parker McLachlin, Sean O'Hair, Justin Rose
Mark Blackburn (4): Nathan Green, Robert Karlsson, Heath Slocum, Boo Weekley
Matt Killen (4): Chad Campbell, J.B. Holmes, Shaun Micheel, Kenny Perry

STEVE ATHERTON

BYE-BYE BANANA

If you fight a slice, you might think you're swinging out to the target, but I'll bet you're swinging well left. Try this: Align everything down the middle of the fairway but swing the clubhead toward a specific target more to the right. Take a strong grip (hands turned to the right), relax your forearms and make a full turn. You'll love that nice, high draw.

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