STAFF FEATURE: INTERVIEW WITH GRANT ROGERS
For fifteen years Grant Rogers has been sharing his golf wisdom with guests and fellow employees as the Director of Instruction here at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
If you're lucky enough to know him, or to have taken a lesson from him, then you are familiar with his epic stories and his zen like approach to the game. Golf, much like Grant, must be experienced to be fully enjoyed. Experience is at the heart of what makes Grant such a great instructor. Like the Tao Te Ching, what he says sometimes might seem obvious on the surface, but if you listen closely he's speaking to the larger picture of things.
Recently, we sat down with Grant to pick his brain and to glean some insight into how he approaches the game. The following video is a snippet of our larger conversation. We hope you enjoy it.
Watch our in-person interview with Grant Rogers below or on our Vimeo account. You can also visit our Instruction">Instruction Page for instruction details and more videos from Grant.
Read the extended interview below and please share your Grant stories with us in the comment section!
So Grant, how long have you lived in Bandon?
I've lived in Bandon almost 15 years. The time has really gone fast. I can't believe I've been here 15 years but someone told me that yes I have. *Laughs
I've been here 6 years and it seems like only a few days have gone by.
I know it. What is the deal with that?
I don't know why that is.
I do. Someone told me when I was little that time accelerates as you get older. I said, "No it doesn't. Time is a constant!" So, I was convinced I was right. Then as I got a little older I became convinced he was right. I do think it accelerates. *Laughs
So Grant, what's your "Bandon Story?" How did you discover the resort?
I do have a Bandon story. I'm glad you asked that question. My Bandon story starts at Royal St. George's Golf Club in England. Somehow I ended up there and as soon as I played that golf course my whole attitude about golf changed. I realized this style of golf I really like to play the best.
Yeah, links golf. I had never really played golf like that before and then instead of coming home I decided to play more golf like that in Scotland. So then I kind of vanished in Scotland for a while. But, when I got back to the United States I started realizing that I was constantly scheming on different ways to get back to Europe to play golf. I was pretty successful because I was able to go there 20 different times to play golf. So that's when I got really hooked on links golf. As soon as I discovered that they were building Bandon Dunes I came over and took a look at what they were doing. At that time they were just building the fifth hole at Bandon and they were really excited to have someone to show the golf course to. Which was basically just the fifth hole. I took one look at that golf hole and thought, "This is going to be a fantastic golf course, just like those courses I used to play in Europe."
No. 5 on Bandon Dunes is a beast!
Yes. One of my favorite holes on property!
Do you like it because it plays so differently from day to day? You could play it in a north breeze, south breeze and benign day and have a different experience each time.
That's true. Something is different every time you play it, usually it's the elements. The great thing about playing Bandon Dunes golf is the wind. I think it's the X factor. You never know exactly what's going to happen wind-wise. I've been sending notes to people I give lessons to, telling them, "I'm pretty excited that the northwest wind is back." It really does add a lot of interest to golf in the summer here.
Aside from being aware of the wind and such, what do you think is the secret to a low score on our links courses?
You have to know when to play offence and defense. Sometimes it makes sense to go for the green, for example, and sometimes it makes sense not to go for the green. It's almost kind of irresistible [to go for the green] because there it is, and if you hit your best shot you're going to get on the green and maybe a birdie putt, right? And then all of a sudden, people are really surprised that the ball didn't go where they aimed, they ended up in a sand dune and they made a 10. So they may have been better off hitting a 7-iron, getting on the green that way, and then 1 or 2-putt to get a par or a bogey. So, you just have to take your time and look at what makes the most sense. The greens here are really well guarded, for one thing, especially against long shots. And that's what gets the more agressive, low-handicap player in trouble because they are pretty aggressive here when they don't need to be.
Do you have any nicknames?
Well, lately people have been calling me "The Wizard" because of The Wizard of Bandon Dunes article that appeared in Golf Digest. If you haven't read it there are a few stories people might enjoy if they read it. The other day someone was kind of teasing me about that nickname and I told them, "Be careful, as a wizard I can make you disappear!" *Laughs. He hasn't called me the Wizard lately.
How do people sign up for links instructions?
We do have a page on our website that has all the information about what we offer. Basically we can help people with anything related to their golf game. Our Practice Center is the best. So, it's unlimited in terms of what we can do to help people with their golf shots or with their golf game in general. Then of course we give lessons out on the courses because a lot of times people will tell me, "Great you have me hitting the ball really well on the range but I can never do this on the golf course." So then we suggest to go out there together because sometimes they just need a guide out there to be with and help them out with a little more about strategy and maybe a little bit about how to putt well out on the golf course. That makes a big difference because it has a lot to do with scoring.
What's the most common question a student will ask you?
A lot of people here at the resort are intrigued and want to know more about links golf. They also want to know what's different about links golf and how do they play their best golf here in Bandon. Links lessons are really popular. We give those to small or big groups where we talk about specific links shots, how to play in the wind, how to survive in the bunkers, and how to putt well. If they can learn a little bit in each area they're going to play better, for sure.
How can individual lessons be different than links lessons?
A lot of times their swing problems are pretty simple to fix. It's not like a band-aid lesson, it's more like, "This is how you fix this problem." I have a lot of people try to tell me, "It can't be that easy" and I tell them to hit another one. Then they hit another good golf shot because what ever they have been trying to do has been way to complicated. Golfers have trouble doing something that's really complicated with a golf club in their hands. It just doesn't work.
I've heard that too. It's best to simplify, right?
Yeah, this idea of "less-is-more" is actually true. You can't be thinking about 19,000 things. It just doesn't work.
Do you think there is an ideal swing?
That's a really good question. There is an ideal swing actually... it's the one that works best for you. That's where an instructor has to figure that out, "Okay, what swing will work best for you?" A lot of times people have natural swings too. We've done some interesting experiments with swinging a golf club and filming it. It's amazing how good their swing really is. If you introduce a golf ball who knows what they're going to do. They put it in a different mode. They go from swinging a golf club mode, to hitting a golf ball mode. It's really different. Sometimes I'll have to tell people how good their practice swing really is and that they should sneak up to the golf ball and really use it. *Laughs. Because if they do, they hit this really good golf shot, ya know?
Do you have consistencies you look for from address through the swing that you like to follow?
Yeah, I do. A lot of times when someone is waiting for me at the Practice Center for a lesson and as I'm walking up to them I see their swing from a distance, before I even talk to them I know the problem with their swing. Just watching them take a few swings I can tell a couple of the things that they're doing that are really good, but we have to add a few things to it to make it really good. If the rhythm and balance is good for a golfer, they're gonna have a better chance of hitting a good golf shot. That's for sure. So a lot of times if they have a problem it's related to one or more of those areas. So my focus becomes, let's get the balance right, now let's get the rhythm right then we'll see what happens. A lot of the time the results are really good.
What are your thoughts about luck? What do you think about the saying, "luck is just preparation meeting opportunity?"
Well... sometimes it is just luck too. Sometimes you just get lucky. That golf ball could've gone in the water but it didn't or the ball could've gone out of bounds but it didn't. Or you went in the bunker but had this perfect lie, then all of a sudden a putt went in that you thought you missed. Luck is on your side sometimes. Luck is definitely a factor in links golf. So if you're playing your best golf on any of our golf courses you're having a lucky day. The reason I'm saying that is once your golf ball leaves the club then you have zero influence on that golf ball. So then, that's where the luck comes in. If you want to find out if you're a lucky person or not, just hit a golf ball somewhere and you'll find out.
*Laughs. That's a pretty good line to start wrapping up. Anything parting thoughts you'd like to add?
I think that anyone who's interested in golf is interested in playing a little better. They want to know more about their potential. I know I've had some really good golf lessons myself. I think golf lessons can be very valuable. So, I would encourage anyone that wants to get better to get together and come out and see us. We'll do our best to help you.
I haven't seen a problem that someone has had with a golf club that can't be fixed. Sometimes they have to be a bit more patient and have a little more sense of humor about the whole situation but they can definitely get better. I just encourage all golfers to get some help if they need it and just enjoy whatever is going on. Be glad you're on the golf course.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is really an amazing experience. And it really is amazing every day.
ICYMI: Don't forget to check out our Employee Feature on Bob "Shoe" Gaspar from early 2015!