One of the Masters of
Evening Sun Sports Writer
would think winning a major award would give validation to the career which former
Littlestown resident Virgil Herring has chosen.
even though he enjoys his new status as the Tennessee Section PGA Teacher of
the Year, Herring said the reality of his career will hit him in April at a site
far from his Nashville Area home.
get to go to The Masters and be at the Taj Mahal of golf", Herring said of
his upcoming trip to Augusta National Golf Club. "I'll have my spotlight
as a golf instructor. I'm in it and it involves one of my students."
student is Brandt Snedeker, a Vanderbilt University golfer who won the 2003 United
States Public Links championship and therefore qualified for The Masters.
is one of dozens of golfers who have improved their games under the instruction
of Herring, who recently turned 30.
I strive for is to be the best I can be," he said. "
Just me getting
this award hasn't made me stop to think or change my ways. It' just who I am."
Virgil Herring is is a man who once considered baseball as important as golf,
though he eventually would attend Mississippi State University to major in Professional
as major league managers often come from the ranks of baseball players whose careers
had fizzled, Herring's teaching career and his own business, Higher Performance
Golf Academy came from an unrealized dream.
was so fortunate to be mentored by Bill Strausbaugh, "Herring said of the
late golf professional emeritus at Columbia Country Club in Maryland.
the PGA Teacher of the Year in 1992, came to Mississippi State and struck up a
friendship with Herring, who was aspiring to compete professionally. Strausbaugh
invited Herring to his club for instruction.
as I was hitting shots, he was letting me know it's going to be really tough out
there and what it was like," Herring said.
Herring watched Strausbaugh teach others, Strausbaugh's noticed Herring's eye
said: If this playing this doesn't pan out, you should be a good teacher. 'I enjoyed
the teaching aspect of it more than the playing aspect," he said.
graduating from Mississippi State, Herring took a job teaching at a course in
Franklin, Tenn., in part to be close to his future wife, Bela, a golfer at Mississippi
Herring went to Hermitage Golf Club in Old Hickory, Tenn., home of the former
LPGA Sara Lee Classic, before his move this year to Spring House Golf Course in
Nashville, where he operates his golf school.
the way, Herring's eye for instruction has been reflected in the referrals by
golfers to him. In addition to working with Snedeker, he counts PGA Tour player
Brad Fabel and Harry Taylor among his students. He conducts corporate clinics
and teaches those who visit Spring House.
visitors include celebrities based in Nashville, the nation's capital of country
an interesting situation. You think they are going to be different. You think
they are going to be big-time, but they are not," Herring said. "Vice
Gill is one of the nicest people in the world. Chely Wright is just a nice girl
who wants to get better at golf."
Herring says he treats them the same as any other student, in part because his
philosophy about golf instruction never wavers.
don't want to embarrass themselves," Herring said of his beginning students,
"and the simple fundamentals that make that happen are the same that the
(PGA) Tour players work on."
fundamentals remain the same. It's hilarious, but it always remains true. You
come back to the beginning, the fundamental turn and the balance. That's how I
was taught by Bill Strausbaugh," Herring said.
uses video replays of a person's swing during the opening lesson so that he and
his students see what exactly must be changed. By comparison, Herring said he
uses Tiger Woods as the example of the best golf swing.
information that you're giving has been out there for 100 years. Don't pretend
like you're inventing it. Just make it personal and it will sell itself,"
is doing exactly that. Much of his philosophy is detailed on his website, www.hpga.net,
which was designed by one of his students and contains information published at
the suggestion of his wife.
State football, cinnamon rolls and fine wine among his loves.
web page also notes The Masters is Herring's favorite tournament, which makes
his trip to Augusta with Snedeker all the more special.
so talented, it's ridiculous," Herring said."
He's the best chipper
and putter I've worked with."
at Augusta will only build Herring's career, though over the past four years,
Herring says he has given 7,914 lessons.
that's a lot of golf instruction and 80 percent of that is in a six-month time
span each year," Herring said.
Herring will likely add one or two assistants to his golf academy soon so he can
devote more time to certain players and watch other teachers to learn new ways
to teach the game.
also will allow Herring more free time away from a career which he likens to a
"mushroom cloud". But he is hardly ready to slow down just yet.
don't stop to look (back) because I'm still trying to be the greatest. Until I
get to the level that I want to be at, I stop to look at the roses, but I don't
look in the rearview mirror," he said.
It hardly registers on Herring's meter now.
we lost our last (Hanover Post 14) Legion game, I haven't even thrown a ball since,"
- Fine tune your game with Virgil Herring's golf instruction video.
you have a question concerning an area of the golf swing or the short game, click
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