The late PGA teaching legend Jim Flick mesmerized his peers by his talent to effortlessly shift between star pupils just yards apart on a practice range, applying the needed fix, the right words, that needed tweak to success.
You can add PGA teaching professional Susie Meyers of Tucson, Ariz., to teachers who could draw something extra out of a player – even if that golfer was ranked 1,207th in the world.
In March, Meyers' longtime student, Michael Thompson, captured the Honda Classic. Last Sunday, Derek Ernst, whom Meyers had worked with since mid-April, stunned the golf world by entering the Wells Fargo Championship field as the fourth alternate and go to win in just his ninth PGA Tour start. Ernst defeated David Lynn in a playoff, earning a berth in this week's Players Championship, along with the PGA Championship, next year's Masters and elevated to a No. 123 world ranking.
"It's funny," says Meyers, "I'm coaching two kids who are completely opposite. One plays a fade, one plays a draw; one is slower in his routine, one is quicker; one has a smooth putting stroke and the other a pop-stroke. One I've worked with for 13 years, and the other for just over three weeks. When you coach the person instead of just the golf stroke it doesn't matter who is standing in front of you."
Ernst, who was looking for a coach, told Meyers that he had had seven golf lessons in five years. Yet he finished tied for 17th in the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn his Tour card. Ernst's manager, Burt Kinerk, contacted Meyers and asked if she would meet the promising 22-year-old, a 2012 graduate of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
"We all can use a coach to play at the Tour level," says Meyers, whose classroom is at Ventana Golf & Racquet Club in Tucson. "It's a tougher world on the PGA Tour. The trust relationship between a coach and a player is so important to developing as a player."
The formula that was a part of Thompson's regimen is now a part of Ernst's routine. Meyers spends time with a student to look at the "whole game," helps them with the way they are thinking, asks for permission to work with the player's tour caddie and then gets out of the way.
Caddie Aaron Terry, as did Thompson's tour caddie, became a willing conduit of information from teacher to student. "I told Aaron that he was the most important person out there," says Meyers. "We need to work together. He was very open to helping. Aaron changed the way he delivered his information to Derek so Derek could process it the way his mind is used to. I told Derek when he got into a playoff, he needs to just think he is going to play a lot more holes and not change anything and play until someone tells him it is all over. On Sunday he kept playing until he won!"
Meyers said that she sat in front of her television Sunday and was "amazed" as she watched Ernst go about winning the Championship. "I am so impressed with Derek for many reasons. He has the whole package, and he was open to what I said and put it into practice right away."
Ernst called Meyers and among his comments were the focus that he picked up from their practice sessions. "I looked where I wanted to go, and I hit it there," Ernst said, who said that after his competing in this week's Players Championship, will travel to Arizona for more fine-tuning with Meyers.
"Some people say that I don't coach the golf swing, but only the mind," says Meyers. "That is not the truth. I do work on the golf swing, but it's more about how I deliver the information. My goal is to allow the player to trust in his abilities. If you don't believe in it, it ain't going to happen. You cannot videotape what makes a golfer work. You can have a great golf swing, but if you don't have what's inside, it won't make a difference."