Like most good ideas at Golf Digest, this one came over lunch. It seemed so obvious to the editors at the table, that we wondered why no one in golf had done it before.
Everyone knows the best spot to watch a professional event is the driving range. In 10 minutes you’ll take in more silky swings than if you spent an entire day traipsing the course trying to follow the tournament action. The only thing that would make it better is if you could hear what the instructors are saying to the players. Like a jockey’s whispers to a horse, maybe those little nuggets could help you run faster, too.
So the idea: Sit in for a lesson between a top player and his coach and film it. Resist all urges to play director. Let the session evolve into a warm-up, a tune-up or even a full-blown lesson. Simply press the record button, let two world class golf people do their thing, and try not to sneeze.
In one sense, we believed it was an easy ask. As a Playing Editor for Golf Digest, Jordan Spieth regularly carves time from his busy schedule to accommodate our photo and video shoots. Switching outfits, hustling between locations, flashbulbs going off in the eye—spending time with us isn’t all sipping lemonade and telling golf jokes. We figured Spieth might be somewhat relieved to learn that all he had to do was what he’d probably do anyway on a Tuesday morning in Dallas. Show up at Trinity Forest Golf Club and hit some balls in front of Cameron McCormick, his coach since he was 12 years old.
But in another sense, it was a big ask. Even for one of the world’s best players, there’s something fundamentally exposing about having voyeurs at your golf lesson. That few yards of turf between a teacher and student is sacred ground. And it wasn’t until our crew was there, huddled behind our lights and equipment and eavesdropping via earphones, that I think any of us truly appreciated this. Like all tour pros, Spieth is used to showing off in front of galleries. But hitting balls under the scrutiny of McCormick, who points out flaws we otherwise wouldn’t notice, is taking the make-up off.
Still, it was impressive as heck. Spieth put on a stripe-show of calling out different trajectories and then executing them. What especially wowed was the other order of discipline. Not a single ball was struck without a target and specific purpose. Even his chip shots had a stated target line.
You’ll need to watch the entire 37-minute range session to discover what’s most fascinating to your golf mind. Perhaps it’s their dialogue about “normalized versus actual distance” or the two getting downright erudite about alignment. Or maybe it’s the inside jokes between a player and coach who’ve spent a dozen years together. We don’t provide subtitles, but there is a series of companion videos in which McCormick breaks down in plain English what the average golfer can learn from Spieth’s warm-up routine.
We don’t take it lightly that Spieth and McCormick were gracious enough to allow us into their world. We think you’ll agree it was worth the ask.