The 2004 Senior PGA Championship
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Interview with Tom Jenkins

May 28, 2004

Note: The news conference was moderated by Julius Mason, the Director of Public Relations and Media Relations of the PGA of America

JULIUS MASON: Hello folks, we do have Tom Jenkins joining us today with a story that got down to the media center actually through Ken Lindsay, a rules official, Former President of the PGA of America. I guess ? and you can correct me on this, Tom ? and my version of what I heard on the story, when apparently maybe you asked Ken if it was okay to go on the practice range to chip a little bit, but he indicated, "Well, there's some people down there, so I don't know if you're going to be able to accomplish all you want." And you said, "That's cool, that's what I want, people down there". And what began with six people turned into maybe 150 people and all of a sudden an impromptu clinic by yourself today? Your version.

TOM JENKINS: Yeah, well, I mean ? like I said earlier, it must be a really slow day doing a story on this. But it's something that happens quite often on the Champions Tour especially when we have days like this. I asked Ken if the practice facility was open. And it was about 11 o'clock this morning, and I've only got about half a hole to play in my first round, and I knew we weren't going to play probably didn't think we were going to play at all today, but just in case, I thought I might go out and chip and putt a little bit. And I didn't ? he didn't mention anything about, oh, there's people down there, you might not get anything done. My intention was to go down there and practice a little bit. But as usual, when you're around a chipping area like that where the people, where people have close access to you, it certainly attracts people coming over, because everybody is interested in improving their game, especially their short game. And I taught the short game for many, many years. I kind of helped Dave Pelz start his short game schools back in the early '80s and had quite a lot of experience in teaching the short game. So it's very easy for me to get out there and talk about it. So as it always happens, you're hitting a few chip shots and you look back and you've got maybe 10, 15 people. And then before you know it, whoever is out there and certainly all of the fans came out to see some golf today and nobody was out hitting any balls or chipping or putting and I guess I was the only person out there doing anything. So before long everybody that's out there, all the fans that are out there are around that little pitching area. And so it's a great time to get people interact with the fans. And as I'm aware they're all interested in asking questions, so it's the first thing, first thing you do is you ask people if they have any questions about any shots. And so it's something where you could stay out there all day long and do this. The people love it. I certainly don't mind talking about it. So we just kind of got into talking about different shots. I demonstrated different shots and got a few people up out of the crowd, got a couple of kids out there and made a few, gave them a few tips and grip tips and swing tips and these little two little kids hit some great little pitch shots to the green. People seemed to love that. I gave a lady there a lesson about ? her concern was she always bladed her chip shots. So I kind of talked to her about that and eventually got her out there. We had to kind of pull her out of the crowd to get her up there, but she came out and actually got, I got her setup in the right setup and she actually hit about three or four pretty nice looking chips. So she was thrilled about that. But it's something where late in the days, at most events, you'll see a lot of players, if they're out there practicing late around the greens or something and there's a handful of people that are staying late, it's very easy to get involved in helping people and it's a thrill to see how excited they get. The people love golf. And especially here in Louisville, having two Major championships in the past, you know that the people are, you know, they know about the game and enjoy being out here. Especially on a day like it's going to look like this. To have those people come out and show up, it's nice to have something for them to do as opposed to just standing out there watching nothing. So it turned out where I got enough practice in and I talked to them all about all of my secret weapons. I had to explain what my Q link was and what my Japanese positive ion bracelets were and I've got some putting goggles that I practice putting with, so we had quite a ball out there this morning.

JULIUS MASON: How long would you say you were out there, Tom?

TOM JENKINS: Oh, I would say probably a couple hours probably.

JULIUS MASON: And what would you guesstimate the crowd to be at it's maximum?

TOM JENKINS: Oh, shoot, there was probably a couple hundred people I think. So it was nice. It was a nice little impromptu thing. So it turned out nice. I got some practice in. It's always nice to talk about it. And to me in all my teaching days, the years that I didn't compete between the regular TOUR and the Champions Tour, I taught the short game. And just by talking about it and demonstrating it for those years, it's the same thing here, it certainly helps you stay in touch with the short game and just even talking about the short game, about touch and feel and having a club in your hand helps.

JULIUS MASON: Tom, can you take some questions before you give your next clinic in 45 minutes?

TOM JENKINS: Sure, if there's a question.

Q. Just talk about it. Everybody talks about how much the fan?friendliness of this TOUR, you probably wouldn't see something like that on the regular TOUR. Just talk about you guys interacting and also on a day when you don't have a whole lot to do, like you were saying, I mean it was ? it had to be kind of fun for you to actually do something like that?

TOM JENKINS: Oh, yeah. Well, I think most of the guys on the Champions Tour are certainly more giving of their time more so than the regular TOUR. I haven't been to a regular TOUR event in years, so all I can see is from the television and the personalities on there. And they seem a little bit off limits, off limitish, so to speak. But on the Champions Tour, I think there's more players out here like myself who really appreciate this opportunity, the second chance opportunity that we have. And it's because of the fans and the corporate sponsors that allow us to do this. And I think in that respect it's much easier for us to give back to the game at this point in our career than it would be for the regular Tour players to do that at this point. A lot of guys on the Champions Tour had limited success, some players out here never played the regular TOUR. So we understand that ? and it's all about having fun. To me the secret that I ? when I turned 50, to me the difference was at this point I was trying to have fun and enjoy playing golf again and competing again. And having the second chance to do this was a dream come true. And so I just try to have fun. And that's what it's all about for me. And certainly watching these two kids get out there ? I've got two young sons, three and a half years old and a one and a half year old. And it's great to see these young people come out to watch these old guys, including myself, play golf. And it's great to get them out there and see them hit good shots and see how excited they are. And especially to see how excited their parents are watching them. And I think most of the guys would give up their time to do that. We have a lot of Tuesday junior outings at each event where a number of players play nine holes with three or four junior players. And that's a wonderful, great success we have on the Champions Tour. So in that regard there is a big difference between our TOUR and the regular TOUR at this point.

Q. You mentioned the short game, and I think like a lot of people we're amazed at what the pros can do in the short game, the things you can do with a golf ball and short distances. I think that's what most amateurs struggle with the most. And you mention you liked to talk about touch and feel. Is that something that you can learn or are you born with it? Because I think either you have it or you don't.

TOM JENKINS: Well, no, no, no, no. No, you can learn it. You can learn it. Now there's some certainly some players are born with it. To me Ben Crenshaw was born with great touch and feel on the greens. But like I was telling people out there this morning, the best teachers in the world can teach you the right technique, and we can teach you to look like a player. Anybody can get set up and look like a player. But no one can teach you touch and feel. And how do you gain touch and feel? Well, you got to go out there and do it. You got to practice it over and over and over again to develop touch and feel. Now probably there are some people who will never have touch and feel, like there's some people who will never be able to dance, who look like a stick figure out there on the dance floor. I mean, they just don't have it. But most people can develop some type of rhythm in their dancing or in their short game. But you got to go out there and do it. First you have got to look like a player and then the second thing you got to do is do it enough to develop touch and feel. So the easiest way is to be born with it, but most of us aren't and so it requires some practice.

Q. What's the most common flaw you see in amateurs in the short game, particularly chipping and pitching the ball?

TOM JENKINS: Probably right hand grip. The right hand grip is way too strong and underneath the club too much in the palm of their hand. I tell people that like in most probably the baby boomer generation and older, you know, I kind of throw an analogy at them of most of the people in the audiences at that age I ask them if they have ever pitched pennies before. And they go, well, yeah, we pitched pennies. I said, well, where do you hold the penny in your hand when you pitch a penny against a wall? And they all go, well ? I said, get a penny out or a coin and hold it like you're going to throw it against the wall. They take the coin out and they put it in their fingertips. I said, well, that's where you got to hold the golf club to be a good short game player. That's where your touch is in the fingertips. But most people tend to grip it down in their palm and it is way way too strong. The right side is way too strong and tight. That's the first thing that I usually change with people in my pro-am groups is their right hand grip it is way too strong. And then the second thing is their alignment is too square. They get too ? their body ? their body is too square to the target. They don't want to get open enough. Which when you get too square, then it tends to have a left hand breakdown going through and you need to get more and more open as the closer you get to the target. And then the third thing would be that their weight is too much on their back foot. Those three things need to be adjusted most of the, I would say 90 percent of the amateurs I play with in our Thursday pro-ams that I play in I mention every week to people. I was thinking about maybe making a little tape and giving them a tape after my Thursday pro-am round, you know, but.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Thanks for coming down today, Tom, I really appreciate it.

TOM JENKINS: Okay. Thanks, guys.

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