Matthew Wolff's coach George Gankas discusses his star pupil
Wolff’s Coach George Gankas – “It Is One Of My Favourite Swings I’ve Ever Seen”
It’s not often a rookie with a handful of PGA Tour starts has such a unique and powerful swing that tributes to it go viral on social media.
But Matthew Wolff instantly took the golf world by storm and fans eagerly uploaded videos of their impersonation: the kick of the left leg as a swing trigger and the outside takeaway and across-the-line position at the top, as well as the dramatic shallowing out of the club in transition.
Wolff was unheralded until he made a clutch putt to win the NCAA Championship title for Oklahoma State in 2018, then won the NCAA individual title a year later. But his instructor, George Gankas, always knew of Wolff’s potential.
Gankas is the unconventional, but popular, southern California teacher known for wearing flat-brim hats and untucked shirts. He is a fascinating coach renowned for boosting his students’ swing speeds to compete in the modern game.
Wolff, New Zealand’s Danny Lee and Padraig Harrington are among his disciples.
Gankas recalls the first time he met a teenage Wolff in Los Angeles. He knew the kid had X-factor. “The first time I met Matt, he was on the driving range and he had that leg trigger and a lot of swagger,” Gankas said.
“He was sitting on a bench and I was teaching and he said, ‘Hey’. I turned around and it was this little kid. He asked me, ‘Are you George Gankas?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘Oh my god!’ But I knew this kid was messing with me! It was the first time I had ever met him and it was funny that he was already clowning with me.
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“Then I saw his swing and I thought it was really cool. He was hitting a 20-yard draw. Within a month, his dad showed up and looked super-nervous about asking me to work with his son, because of how Matt’s swing looked. But I said, ‘Don’t worry; it is one of my favourite swings I’ve ever seen’.”
Wolff averaged a devastating 311.6 yards with the driver in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, which only eight bombers bettered.
“The thing I teach all my students is to learn speed first, then you learn how to control it,” Gankas says.
“If you can swing it 130mph on the range in practice swings, you’ll feel you can control it at 120 when you’re on the course. It’s how the modern game is played. We’re not putting Matt in positions and trying to make it perfect. He’s not a machine. He’s an athlete.”
In just his third start as a pro, Wolff drained a long eagle putt from off the green on the 72nd hole at the 3M Open in Minnesota to beat Morikawa by one stroke. Few predicted just how quickly Wolff would win on the PGA Tour – not even himself.
“I would say I was a little surprised to win that early but I feel like I was ready,” Wolff explains.
“I’m not sure if I was surprised, because I didn’t come out here expecting top tens all the time. I came out here because I knew I had the ability and the game to win.
“I came out here because I knew I had the ability and the game to win.”
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