It is 6:45 on Sunday morning--hours before the final round of the
FedEx St. Jude Classic--and Stan Utley is hard at work on the
practice green at the TPC at Southwind outside Memphis. Nothing
unusual here, except that the 41-year-old Utley, a journeyman pro
known as one of the best putters in the game, had missed the cut
two days earlier. He is back at the course to help hone the
stroke of another pro, Doug Barron. "You have to commit to a
player," Utley says. "That's a big part of what I do."
Utley, who holds the Tour record for fewest putts for nine holes
(six), is unique in that he wears two hats: He's a player, and
he's the hottest short-game coach in golf. Even though Utley's
lone Tour win came 14 years ago, his reputation concerning all
things putting has soared this season, primarily because of the
success of acolytes Jay Haas, Peter Jacobsen and Jonathan Kaye.
Utley also works with civilians, but good luck getting an
appointment. His schedule, which has him teaching up to eight
sessions a week, playing (he finished 73rd at last week's Buick
Open) and practicing--besides spending time with his wife,
Elayna, and their two children, Tatum, 8, and Jake, 6, who travel
with him--is booked solid. "It pains me that I have people
interested in lessons who I can't get to," he says.
Despite his many commitments, Utley agreed to analyze the putting
stroke of the best player--and one of the best putters--in the
world for SI Golf Plus. Not surprisingly, the secret to Tiger
Woods's success is that his stroke is almost a carbon copy of
Utley's. See for yourself starting on page G13.
James P. Herre
EDITOR, GOLF PLUS
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN PLAYER-COACH Utley wears two hats on the Tour.