Ever the touchstone for excellence in golf, TPC Sawgrass adds to its arsenal with one of the top performance centers in the game.
Home to the PGA TOUR Headquarters, THE PLAYERS Championship, two great golf courses, and one particularly famous Island Green, TPC Sawgrass is to many the pinnacle of the game. With a stunning clubhouse, a great restaurant and bar, museum-quality examples of golf history adorning nearly every wall, and local amenities that include some of the best dining, shopping and beaches in North Florida, it’s no wonder that the club is a dream destination for nearly everyone who’s ever wielded a club. Now fans have one more reason to visit, as the new PGA TOUR’s Performance Center at TPC Sawgrass is open.
“We’re going to have elite players coming from all over the world to work with us,” says Todd Anderson, the newly-appointed Director of Instruction at the Performance Center and 2010 PGA of America Teacher of the Year. “We’ll also have local people and visitors who stay at some of the area hotels, like the Sawgrass Marriot®. Basically, we want anyone to come who’s interested in improving their golf and in utilizing some of the amazing technology that we have.”
Of course, none of it means a thing without proper guidance, and in Anderson the TOUR has one of the best instructors around. Named as the Director of Golf at North Carolina’s Elk River Club at the age of 25, he left after seven years to take the same position at Old Marsh Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Former Director of Instruction at The Breakers in Palm Beach, an instructor at the Golf Digest Instruction Schools, the 1999 South Florida PGA Teacher of the Year and the 2003 South Florida PGA Horton Smith Award Recipient, Anderson was also Director of Instruction at the Sea Island Golf Performance Center, where he worked with FedExCup Champions Billy Horschel (2014) and Brandt Snedeker (2012), among others. Throughout his career, he’s taught more than 100 PGA TOUR, Web.com, PGA TOUR Champions and LPGA Tour professionals, and he’s long been listed among Golf Digest’s 50 Greatest Teachers and among Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Instructors. At the new Performance Center, his expertise combines with the technology at his disposal to create a fantastic resource for golfers at any level. Rounding out the Performance Center’s exceptional instructional team are instructors Andrew Lanahan and Jordan Dempsey as well as club fitter Josh Gumlia, and fitness specialist Alex Bennett.
The Performance Center’s technology is indeed amazing, and includes an array of the top systems available for club, ball, body and swing analysis and more (see sidebar: Technology). It’s a step up from what was already a great instruction facility, with two new bays added (for a total of four hitting bays) along with the significant tech update. Combined with top instruction, club fitting and fitness, it all comes together to create a resource to help improve any game at any level.
“We have cameras, where we can get up close to show impact with the putter and full-length shots from all angles,” says Anderson. “And we have fitness equipment, along with cable machines that are specifically designed to help people work on golf swing mechanics. We can take a student through an assessment period, get some initial numbers, initial data, work in different areas, such as club fitting, swing instruction, and fitness. Then make some modifications to whatever they’re doing, and quantify where they improved.”
This is key to the Performance Center experience, Anderson says: quantifying improvements in a demonstrable fashion to help students appreciate performance gains that are resulting from the instruction given, rather than just “taking a lesson” and looking for overall improved scores, which would be the long-term goal.”
As an example, Anderson tells of a corporate group that recently booked the Performance Center, with genuine results.
“We worked on fitness and stretching, then ran them through a few exercises with different weighted sticks from Super Speed golf,” he explains. “We also made a few swing adjustments and fit them to a new driver. After this, average club head speed went up over 4mph for the whole group, and average carry distance went up something like 30 yards.
“That’s what we’re trying to show. We want to quantify things we’re doing to where you see you’re actually hitting the ball further, actually hitting it higher, generating more club head speed, improving contact, etc. It helps us with our teaching and with our training to illustrate that you definitely are getting better—and here’s the proof.”
When students leave the Performance Center, he says, they’ll have a wealth of data and media (like printed Trackman data and swing analysis information) they can take back to their pro at home, with recommendations on a program for advancement. They could also have a new set of clubs, as the Performance Center is also fully capable of doing a comprehensive club fitting and adjustment.
“We have all of the equipment the pros are using,” says Anderson. “Our club room is almost like a TOUR van. We can stamp wedges with people’s initials, we have lie and loft machines, we can do whatever they’re doing on TOUR at our facility. We don’t want there to be anything our guests need that’s not available.
“When people talk about great destinations, we’re going to be in that conversation. The TOUR has made a commitment to that, to me, and to this new facility they’ve built, and our job now is to create one of the best learning environments in the world—world-class instruction at a world-class facility with top notch teachers who know how to create a fun experience. We want it to be fun and energizing; we want people to walk away saying ‘this is great.’ We want them to leave motivated and then come back and show us their improvements.”
Learn more about the PGA TOUR’s Performance Center at TPC Sawgrass at tourperformancecenter.com