It's always interesting to hear the motivations of successful people. For some, it's glory. For others, it's financial security. For Jason Dufner, getting PGA coach of the year Chuck Cook to retool his golf swing six years ago was mainly because of football.
Cook told the story with Dufner on stage Sunday during the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit
"When I first met Duf, first of all I asked, 'What are your goals?'" Cook said. "And he said, 'Man, I just want to make enough money so I don't have to play the fall series so I can watch football.' I've worked with guys who have said, 'I want to be the best player in the world' and he just wants to avoid playing in the fall."
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At the time, Dufner was bouncing back and forth between the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour, finishing outside of the top 125 in 2007 and falling short at qualifying school. The prospects of him becoming a Tour regular, let alone one of the top players in the world, seemed remote.
But Dufner understood his limitations, and Cook saw the potential.
"We talked about why he wasn't able to stay on the Tour, keep his card and play at a higher level," Cook said. "Duf told me, 'I'm just not real consistent, either with controlling my distance or my direction.'
"And so we looked at his swing, and it was more upright and very shut. And so in order to keep the ball toward the target, he'd have to come over the ball, go down the line and turn his hands under and lay the face back. In order to keep the face square, he had to keep opening it through impact to keep it straight. If it didn't open, he'd go left. Sometimes he open it too much and block it."
Cook said Dufner's clubface was pointing up after impact, a detriment to being able to control distance because the loft isn't consistent. One reason why? Dufner was starting out in the wrong position.
"At address, for whatever reason, I'd always play with a clubface that looked square to me -- all the way through high school, college and as a pro -- and Chuck informed at our first lesson that wasn't neutral," Dufner said. "That was probably 10 degrees or so, and when I laid it flat, it looked like I was trying to hit a flop shot out there. So that was a big change."
It wasn't something that was an instant fix. Dufner started working with Cook at the end of 2007 and played 16 events on the PGA Tour in 2008 with a conditional card.
"I kind of looked at 2008 as a wash year, because I was trying to learn what I needed to do and how I needed to practice," Dufner said. "So it took me almost 12 months to understand what we were trying to do and physically make the changes, to know how to practice those changes, and about six months of competition to able to trust it and do it."
It worked. Even though Dufner only recorded two top-10 finishes in 2010 after a breakout 2009, he finished fifth at the 2010 PGA Championship, then lost a playoff to Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship after holding a five-stroke lead with four holes remaining.
Dufner won twice in 2012 and completed the comeback by winning the 2013 PGA Championship.
And Dufner said he's always aware of what he needs to do to keep his swing mechanics in working order.
"I feel like you always go back to your tendencies," Dufner said. "When I'm not playing well, when I'm struggling, that's the reason. I think I'm always going to have to work on that.
"I'm always conscious about what the clubface is doing. And I think it's a lot easier to play with an open clubface in your backswing than it is with a shut clubface."