Develop Your Game with Brandon Stooksbury

Develop Your Game with Brandon Stooksbury

I have known Brandon for a few years, and every time we connect we become closer friends. He is a golf professional at TPC Las Vegas, one of the nicest courses in Nevada, and is always trying to grow the game. He is all over Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and is doing whatever he can to teach his students how to lower scores and play better golf. I love chatting with him about the game and he is always working on something new. I got the chance to play 6 holes with him last year, and it was fun teeing up with him. We only played 6 holes because it was cold! Yes, it gets cold in the desert. I can’t wait to get back to Sin City this summer so we can play under better conditions. He’s a good friend, a great golf professional, and someone I am happy to feature on my blog. If you are ever in Las Vegas, make sure you look him up. Tell him Ricky sent you! It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Brandon Stooksbury.

What is your first memory of the game of golf?

My first memory of golf is taking part in the summer junior clinic at eight years old at the country club in my hometown. I know I started much earlier on the course with my dad, but just can’t seem to find any memories earlier than that.

How long have you been at TPC Las Vegas?

I moved to Las Vegas in 2008 and started at TPC Las Vegas in May of 2010.

You offer free evaluations on your website. What is included in that evaluation?

The evaluation is meant to offer a potential student the opportunity to get to know me and my philosophies on the golf swing and golf instruction. I don’t believe that choosing an instructor should be a decision that’s taken lightly and the complimentary evaluation is my way of helping the golfer to be “educated” on me as an instructor and coach.

What is your favorite table game?

I’m not really sure what you mean by table game, but I have a secret love affair with billiards and ping pong!

Tell me about your relationship with FlightScope.

I received my FlightScope early in 2012 and my teaching hasn’t been the same since! For those who might not be aware, FlightScope is a doppler radar based ball and club tracking system. It allows me to get a 3D look at the moment of impact in a way that a video camera isn’t capable of providing and it’s been an incredible addition to my teaching and clubfiitting business. It provides me with data on every single swing that allows me to offer a golf lesson that is 100% fact driven and scientifically based. Instead of making a guess as to what’s happening at between the club and ball impact (what you have to do when using video) I can tell you exactly what’s happening to make the ball fly the way it does. I’m not sure how I ever taught a golf lesson before it.

Can you tell I’m happy I have my FlightScope!!!

You are really good with YouTube. You also use Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. How has social media helped brand you as golf professional?

I had a good friend convince me to get involved with it… that would be you Ricky Potts… and I’ve tried my best to be as involved as possible. I really like the social media for two big reasons: 1. it helps me to stay current with existing and potential new clients as it give them an easy way to access me and my ideas about golf instruction, and 2. it gives me the ability to connect with other professionals and teachers to share ideas and learn new things. It took me a while to get used to using social media but now that I have I’ll never turn back. Thanks, Ricky!!!

Did you play high school and college golf?

I played in high school but did not play in college. I tried to walk on at the University of Tennessee (my alma mater) but quickly realized I wasn’t good enough to play at an elite, Division 1 school. I probably could have played at a smaller school but didn’t want to give up the experience of going to UT.

Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in Jacksboro, Tennessee… a small town approximately twenty-five miles from Knoxville.

You used to work with Jim McLean down at Doral Golf Resort & Spa. Tell me about your relationship with Jim. Do you guys still keep in touch?

Yes, Jim and I stay in touch as much as anyone can with a guy as busy as him. We speak via email a couple of times throughout the year and usually see each other every year in Orlando at the PGA Merchandise Show. To this day I wish I could have stayed longer in Doral as working with Jim and all the other instructors on staff at Doral was an INCREDIBLE experience that will never be forgotten!!!

Have you ever had a hole-in-one?

Still waiting…

How far do you hit your driver? How far CAN you hit your driver?

My ball speed hovers around 155-160 mph and I usually carry the ball between 255 and 260 yards in the air. My driver is fitted pretty well and I usually get about 30 yards of roll at courses in Vegas. I guess the grand total of carry and roll would be approximately 285 yards. If I try to hit it any further than that I’d never find it to hit it again! (Laughs.)

You are certified by the Titlesit Performance Institute. What is the certification process like? How does being certified help you on the lesson tee?

The Titleist Performance Institute (otherwise know as TPI) has certainly been one of the better certifications I’ve obtained so far and I can’t say enough good about the work they do! I once had a mentor tell me that until the club learned to move on it’s own the body would ALWAYS play a huge role in a golfer’s performance regardless of the handicap he or she might carry. TPI really helped me to connect the dots between the body and how it influences the golf swing. The certification process consists of a two-day course and an extensive written exam per level and I’m fortunate enough to have a achieved two certifications. I am a level 1 “Certified Golf Fitness Instructor” and a level 2 certified “Golf Biomechanist.”

From private lessons to junior programs, you pretty much cover it all. Out of all the coaching services you have, do you prefer teaching one over the other?

I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to admit this… but… yes, I certainly have my preferences. Not so much in the type of student but more the level of play they have obtained or want to obtain. I really enjoy working with the lower handicapper looking to take their game to a higher, more competitive level. I love the coaching aspect of teaching the competitive player; from how to analyze strengths and weaknesses, create improvement plans, and prepare for the next big tournament.

How often do you get to play?

Unlike a lot of professionals in this game I still really like to play. People think it sounds crazy but most of us that work the game really don’t play it that much. It’s like a card dealer at a casino… the last thing he want’s to do when he gets off work is play blackjack! However, I never lost my passion for playing the game and I try to make it out at least once per week when the weather is nice.

There are a lot of great golf courses in Las Vegas. Besides TPC Las Vegas, what other courses in the area have you played?

I would have to say my favorite would either be Southern Highlands or Dragon Ridge Country Club. One of the advantages of living in an area where golf is so expensive is that all the golf courses are in excellent condition year-round. I would have to say my favorite would either be Southern Highlands or Dragon Ridge Country Club but others are really great too. TPC Summerlin is a great track as well as all three courses at Las Vegas Paiute. I still haven’t made it up to play Coyote Springs but I hear it’s fantastic!

You recently started blogging. How often do you plan to post to the blog? Do you have any goals with The Golf Factor?

My ultimate golf with The Golf Factor was to create a platform to serve two groups of people; the average golfer looking to get better and the teaching professional looking to expand his or her knowledge base. The Internet has made it so much easier us all to share information and I wanted to create a vehicle to do just that… share information!

Have you ever been to a PGA TOUR event? If so, which one and at what course?

I’ve been to a few over the last few years… most notably the 2012 Masters Tournament last year. Other’s I’ve attended are the WGC at Doral in Miami, The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa, and the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Dallas.

You graduated from the University of Tennessee. What did you study down there?

(Laughs.) Now that’s a story all by itself! I spent the first three years of my time at UT (the real UT for all you Texas fans out there!) preparing for medical school. I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon.  I actually finished all my required classes but never scheduled the entrance exam. Instead, I changed my mind to be a golf pro. I’ll never forget the day I told my mother… I thought she was going to have a heart attack! I ended up changing my major at the end of my junior year and finished with a BS in Plant Sciences with a concentration in Turfgrass Management.

Tell me more about working with the TOURAcademy.

The TOURAcademy is a great company! We have eight academies in the US as well as an international academy in Asia. What I like about the TOURAcademy is their philosophy on teaching and coaching. It is based on what the best in the word (the PGA TOUR) do with a background in the science that supports it. We don’t teach anything that isn’t backed up by geometry, physics, or biomechanics and when your methods can be backed up 100% by science it makes it a whole lot easier to tell the story!

I am in the market for some new clubs. Does it make sense for me to get fit for my new irons? What is that process like?

It always makes sense to be fit for any new golf club, regardless of your ability level. You want to find a qualified professional that will fit you for development as opposed to compensation. What does that mean… you want to be fitted for golf clubs that will encourage you to make a better swing, not clubs that try to cover up inconsistencies in your existing swing. Look at it this way; you would never go to the orthodontist to be fitted with braces for your existing teeth, right? The braces won’t fit your teeth right now but are there to “encourage” your teeth to be in the proper position. The same goes with golf clubs. An improperly fitted set of clubs can have a dramatic impact (negatively) on your ability to play your best. This game is already hard enough; lets not make it any more difficult!

You won the 2011 Southern NV PGA “Teacher of the Year” award. How does winning an award like that benefit you as an instructor?

I think the biggest benefit is probably personal. I was incredibly humbled to be chosen by my peers as the “Teacher of the Year” and I’m proud to represent the very best instructors in Southern NV. I guess there is a little bit of benefit to my business from being able to carry the title but it’s worth far more to me in pride!

I am Tiger’s biggest fan. Do you honestly think he will break Jack’s record?

As much as I know how much you’re going to hate me saying this… no… I don’t think he will. In my opinion there are two things that are going to hold him back. The first is that his youth and his body are leaving him very quickly. He’s had a lot of difficulty with his knee and back in recent years and he’s certainly not getting any younger. I just don’t know if he’ll be able to hold out long enough to get it done. That brings me to my second point; that his competition isn’t what it used to be anymore. The younger guys that are playing really well at the moment (Rory, Keegan Bradley, etc.) aren’t even old enough to remember the dominant Tiger of old and aren’t intimidated and afraid of him like the rest of the field was back then. That makes it increasingly more difficult for him to win major championships and, back to my first point, I just don’t know if he’ll have enough time to get it done. It’s certainly going to be fun to watch him try!

You were featured on Golf & Other Fore-Letter Words. How did you get connected with Dennis and the Vegas Video Network?

I first met Dennis when he showed up one day at TPC Las Vegas out of the blue and needed footage for TV show he was hosting on one of the local channels in Las Vegas. After that we became friends and when he started the show with the Vegas Video Network I was one of the first people he called. I owe a great deal of my success in the Las Vegas market to the early exposure Dennis provided me and I think we’ll probably always be friends.

Thanks to the economy, discounting is a hot topic of conversation. What are your thoughts on discounting your services? Is there ever a time where discounting makes sense for a golf professional?

This is a particularly difficult question for me because quality golf instruction is a very important part of growing the game of golf and I realize that price can be a barrier for a lot of people. They want to be better at golf and need good instruction to improve their skills, however, many times they simply can’t afford the $125+ per hour a good instructor will charge. With that being said, I simply don’t believe in discounting the traditional way. I’ve worked very hard to acquire the knowledge and expertise I have and it’s worth every penny I charge!

I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. You’re not going to see me discount my private instruction rate down from the full price, however, I will offer some very generously priced group instruction programs that are much more palatable from a price standpoint. Those programs are usually in the form of a group clinic for a multi-person session where two or three people together can pay a smaller rate per person but still get a reasonable amount of private instruction. There will always be instructors out there who will discount their rate to drive business, and I don’t hold anything against them for it… you just won’t see me doing it!

There are a lot of training aids out there. I have been using the Orange Whip like crazy. It has really helped me with my miss right. Do you use any training aids? What are some of your favorite training aids currently available?

I’ve always been a really big fan of training aids because they provide real-time feedback to how you move.  However, they have to be simple to set-up and use.  The Orange Whip is like that… simple in concept and simple to use. My all-time favorite training aide is an impact bag but I also like the ProStance, and the Tour Striker.

As a professional, how much does that Golf Magazine Top 100 list mean to you? Do you think being on that list would help drive more revenue?

This is an interesting topic amongst a lot of teachers out there. I think of all the lists out there the Golf Magazine list is probably one of the best. It is compiled differently than most other lists because it is chosen by committee. Like any other list their process isn’t foolproof and I think that’s what gets most people so upset. As far as driving revenue I think it can change a career if it’s handled appropriately. I was nominated this year and wasn’t chosen but hope to make it on the list soon!

Did you read The Big Miss?

Not yet, but it’s definitely on the list.

Do you ever do playing lessons?

Playing lessons are a pretty specialized product so I don’t make up a huge percentage of my business, but I definitely offer them. Once a student has reasonable control of their ballfllight a on the golf course, lessons become an important part of the improvement process.

Have you ever worked with PGA TOUR players?

I have given my opinion a few times but never had the opportunity to work with any TOUR players on full-time basis. It’s definitely at the top of the list.

Belly putters are a hot topic right now. What is your stance on anchored putters?

This topic really frustrates me! I understand the USGA and their stance on protecting the “tradition” of the game, however, sometimes I think they make decisions just because they’re bored and have nothing better to do! Take the groove decision a few years ago… there was no research presented that restricting the grooves would make any noticeable difference on the PGA TOUR, which is the very reason they made the change. As a matter of fact, the scoring average on TOUR actually dropped a few tenths of a stroke the year after the rule went into effect! So far they are following the same tract when it comes to anchored putters. There has been no research as of yet proving that it is actually a benefit to the player using it, and if it’s not a benefit then why make the change?

The way I see it the changes they are making to preserve the “tradition” of the game at the highest level are 1. not working, and 2. only making the game more difficult than it already is for the amateur golfer. In short… NOT COOL!!!

I subscribe to Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, and Golf Illustrated. Do you read any golf magazines? If so, which ones?

I try to read all of them as much as I can. Being a golf instructor I don’t read them so much for the tips but more the other stuff.  Speaking of Golf Illustrated, I actually have an article with a few of my fellow teaching pros here in Vegas. Let me know what you think.

Golf has been added to the Olympics. What are your thoughts on adding another team event to the schedule?

I think it would be great for the sport as the team atmosphere is not something we get to see a lot of. Sure we have the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup but nothing on quite the level of the Olympics.  I think it’ll turn out to be one of the greatest events in the games history!

Do you have any sponsors? If so, what do they provide you as a golf professional?

I don’t currently have any sponsors that support me, however, most of the companies are pretty good about getting me whatever I need. In some ways I like it better that way because I can play whatever is hot at the moment without having to worry about upsetting anyone.

Let’s say I have 20 minutes a day to work on my game. What should be my focus when I hit the practice facility?

Nobody likes to hear this… but… putting, putting, and putting!!!

What’s next for Brandon Stooksbury?

To be honest I’m in a pretty good spot at the moment. I’ve probably got the best teaching job in the Las Vegas market and my business continues to grow each year. Eventually my family and I would like to get back to the southeast where we grew up but I’m definitely going to wait for the right opportunity before making the move. For now I’m just going to keep my foot on the gas!

Thank you so much for doing this, Brandon. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.

I’m not sure I really have too much else left to say. Thanks so much for the opportunity to be a part of what you’re doing. My only hope is that I can help generate some interest in the game for some of your viewers that might check this out. The more people we can add to the game the more success everyone will have.

Thanks again, buddy!

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