John Anselmo, Unsung but Monumentally Influencial to the Sport of Golf

John Anselmo, Unsung but Monumentally Influencial to the Sport of Golf

If any of you are wondering who John Anselmo is, you are not alone. Anselmo has never been one to pursue the spotlight. He only has one, medium-budget, instructional video on the market and a book to his credit. You won’t find him doing many, if any, product endorsements or magazine covers but despite his obscurity, John Anselmo has had a tremendous, scratch that, legendary impact on the great sport of golf, right under our very noses.

Those who have heard of John Anselmo probably know him simply as one of the many golf instructors involved with Tiger Woods, but to leave you with only that bit of information would be a great disservice.

Anselmo would never say it, so I will take the liberty, if I may, to tell you now that the role John Anselmo played in the development of Tiger Woods’ golf game cannot be overstated and a debt of gratitude is owed to him by this and future generations of golf enthusiast and players (as well as a few ad salesmen and network executives)
Tiger Woods was brought to Anselmo at age ten when his father, Earl Woods realized that Tiger’s potential had outgrown the very capable hands of then golf instructor Rudy Duran. The years ahead would prove to be Tiger’s most formative and the instruction and guidance that John Anselmo would provide would prove to be monumentally influential, while both a legend and a great friendship were being forged and John Anselmo led Eldrick “Tiger” Woods to the doorstep of professional golf history.

As Tiger put it in John Anselmo’s book, “A-Game” Golf; “It’s unbelievable how John kept things fun and interesting, while changing my swing plane, from flat to upright, and teaching me a new shot practically every time he gave me a lesson on the tee or the course.”

Anselmo’s golf instruction, as imparted to Tiger and others, is an amalgam of the knowledge he gleaned from golf greats Ben Hogan and Sam Snead (while playing along side them on the pro circuit), and his own instinctive understanding of the golf swing. Anselmo tells a wonderful story on the “A-Game” Golf DVD as he prefaces one of the drills that he taught Tiger to practice. On the set of the video, Anselmo peers off and expounds fondly about his memory of being fifteen or sixteen years old and riding his bicycle several miles each day to “watch a guy named Sam Snead” practice this same drill out on the driving range. This is just a tiny example of how to a large degree, when we see Tiger Woods play golf, we are also bearing witness to historic golf technique, training and philosophy whose lineage stretches from before and through Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, to John Anselmo and is now manifested on our digitally tuned, HD television sets almost a century later, in perhaps the best ball-striker ever, Tiger Woods.

As a matter of fact, Tiger returned to confer with John Anselmo after his dismal 2004 season and coincidentally came back in 2005 to almost double his winnings from the previous year and post 6 tour victories.

The good news for us is that this celebrated golf instruction ancestry and Anselmo’s influence will continue to entertain and amaze us well into the future as yet another potential master of the sport, Anselmo pupil Jim Liu, is just now approaching his middle-teen years and is setting a pace to possibly make Tiger’s dominance of golf pale at best in years to come.

In his short career Jim Liu has several world and national championships to his credit and smashed the course record at Lake Buena Vista, with an astounding score of Fifty-nine, the result of a breathtaking, bogey-free performance that included two eagles and nine birdies for the PJGT Championship. If you’re not impressed yet, you should know that this Anselmo-trained “Tiger Cub” was all of nine years old at the time! The next year, at age ten, Jim Liu went after another course record, tying that of the one held at TPC, Tampa Bay.

Other notables from John Anselmo’s stable of champions are Billy Olsen and Kim Saiki. Billy has won more than fourteen junior golf championships and finished first in The Golf Channel’s 2000 “Drive, Chip and Putt” competition. Kim Saiki started taking lessons from John Anselmo at age eleven and went on to enjoy a lengthy career in the LPGA.

The success of John Ansemo’s golf instruction is largely due to its simplicity. Nothing about his teaching is ever complicated, hard to learn or hard to remember. Anselmo gives to his students only a few simple teaching concepts that are based on feel, or as he’ll put it, creating “a natural sense”, rather than other approaches to golf instruction that would have students trying to “think” about a dozen or more things all within the nearly immeasurable amount of time it takes to swing the golf club.
Anselmo will not brag about any of this very often, if ever at all. His personal reward is in seeing the joy and pride his students experience as they continue to accomplish the impossible both on the golf course and in life.

(Sources: “A-Game” Golf – the book, “A-Game” Golf – the DVD, agamegolf.net and jimliugolf.com)

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