Dr. Gary Wiren
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE GAME OF GOLF
Dr. Gary Wiren authored the PGA TEACHING MANUAL, (1990) history’s most influential text on the art and science of teaching the game. The Manual was required reading for all prospective PGA members which included taking an examination on the material. The 619 page book was also sent complimentary to all PGA members current at the time of publication. PGA’s of several other countries used the text and it was translated into Spanish and Japanese. The number of copies now in the hands of teaching professionals exceeds 45,000.
Co-founder of the Professional Golf Management program (PGM) at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI in 1975.The program is now a part of the curriculum offerings at twenty colleges and universities that are affiliated with the PGA, producing several thousand graduates who have entered the golf business. This 4 1/2 year degree program includes four internship experiences and has made a huge impact in raising the level of the business operations at all types of golf facilities.
Creator of the USGA/PGA Rules Workshop program which has set the standard and competency level needed for those who serve as rules officials at all levels of golf competition, from Open Championships to State and local events. Literally every official who works a major golf tournament in this country has been involved as either a student or teacher in the workshops that have been conducted over the past forty years. It continues to be a vital program today in providing qualified rules officials for the game both here and abroad.
Founder of the PGA Junior Golf Academy serving youth golfers from all over the world. It was the first values based international golf camp in existence (1977), thus providing a model for those that have followed (First Tee and a host of others now promoting core values)…Honesty, Responsibility, Perseverance, Sportsmanship, Integrity and more.
He created for the PGA of America the first member Re-certification Program (1974) which required that PGA members continue their participation, service, education, and personal growth in order to maintain membership in the Association. Members need to meet the standards every three years or risk losing their Class A status. The concept of this plan was later adopted by several other countries. Wiren served the PGA for thirteen years as Education Director, Club Relations Director, and Director of Learning and Research.
In 1975 Wiren developed and conducted at Pinehurst the first schools to accredit PGA Tour Players for PGA membership and Ryder Cup eligibility. Among those in the initial class were Johnny Miller and Deane Beman.
Founded Golf Around the World, the first golf company to provide a broad selection of golf teaching and training devices to improve both the teacher of golf and, in particular, the learner. Now, after 34 years in business, the company carries over 400 products available to the golf world to aid in this endeavor. The goal of the company is to make teaching more effective and learning easier. (www.GolfTrainingAids.com)
Creator of the PGA’s annual Bill Strausbaugh Club Relations Award for members who have mentored fellow professionals in their jobs and promoted better working relationships and rewards for them. This is one of the more highly honored awards given by the PGA as it requires personal sacrifice in helping others as well as promoting the image of the game.
Wiren developed a golf teaching model called LAWS, PRINCIPLES AND PREFERENCES which has been the cornerstone approach (since the late 1980′s) for teachers of the game toward understanding and presenting the priorities of golf’s swing mechanics: Five LAWS, fourteen PRINCIPLES and limitless PREFERENCES: Not a method, but a model based upon cause and effect.
He became a founding member of the Golf Collectors Society of America (#19 of the original 25) that has grown to having had over 8,300 members during the time of its 45 years in existence. The Society is dedicated to preserving the treasures and traditions of the game and encouraging members to establish friendships based upon a common interest, “the love of golf.” Wiren has produced an award winning DVD called “The Fascinating World of Golf” which shares a presentation of his exceptional personal golf collection that has been written about and exhibited in museums and at shows. It is considered one of the most interesting historical golf collections in the world.
He has been an active member of the Golf Writers Association of America for 39 yrs. Other golf affiliations that are current, or in which he has been active are: United States Golf Association, Society of Hickory Golfers, Shivas Irons Society, National Golf Foundation, International Network of Golf, Golf Collectors Society, Academy of Golf Art, and PGA of America.
Throughout his career Wiren has promoted the concept that golf should be enjoyable. The very first line that he wrote in a golf book (GOLF, “A text for college students,” 1970, with 120,000 copies sold) read as follows: “Golf is a game and as such is meant to be enjoyed.” To this day Wiren signs his golf business letters: “For more enjoyable golf experiences.” In the 1980′s Wiren created and published a “Golf Enjoyment Scorecard” that guided players toward finding the elements of the game of golf that give them the most pleasure, then encouraged them to follow that direction. His message is the same today as it was in 1970, enjoyment.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
Wiren started one of the largest local golf schools of its time in America (1962), The Eugene Register Guard Golf School, in Eugene, Oregon. In class sizes of twenty per session, with five sessions a day in addition to private instruction and an active junior program, he experienced some 16,000 lesson hour contacts in the ten years he was there. He may have well been the first to use video instruction in group lessons.
Over a period of 13 years (1972-85) Wiren traveled for the PGA to 39 of the 41 sections giving talks, seminars, and schools which almost always included teaching the game.
He created for the PGA at various locations around the country three-day Teaching Workshops which featured the country’s most noted teachers of the time. When personally there he was able to observe them and teach with them as well.
Beyond the Teaching and the Rules Workshop programs he instituted a Club Repair program allowing PGA members and apprentices to come into direct contact for three days with the country’s most talented club makers to learn club fitting and repair. This was considered a skill, at the time, which the fine teacher should have.
Wiren taught for 17 years in Japan (1975-1992). He was the Director of Instruction for Mizuno Golf Schools, (104 sites, the largest in the world) located from the Kansai to the Kanto, from Hokkaido to Kyushu. Traveling there twice a year, he gave seminars for the entire Mizuno professional teaching staff (around 200), plus giving exhibitions at the driving range school sites and in theaters.
Founded, directed, and taught in the PGA of America’s Golf Discovery Schools (1982-84). On his guest instructor staff were: Patty Berg, Don January, Mike Souchak, Byron Nelson, Mickey Wright, Dow Finsterwald, and Dr. Cary Middlecoff.
Developed and taught the Five-Star Golf School at the Boca Raton Hotel in Boca Raton, FL. (1986-87): Unique in that it was just four people for five full days.
He served as Honorary Chairman of the Junior Golf Academy of Canada headquartered in Toronto. It is an educational project for underprivileged youth to better prepare them for life by experiences grained through learning golf.
Introduced the term “Learning Center” to the golf industry to represent a total approach to golf skill acquisition at what was formerly known simply as a driving range. It offered a library of golf books and videos, fitness equipment, club fitting, training aids and with video and radar analysis which has been adopted by a large number of golf facilities since.
He was a consultant/coach for three years to the Italian Golf Federation (1988-91) going there to work with their national men’s and women’s teams as well as with talented juniors. Team members were also brought to Florida for additional coaching.
Wiren has given clinics to the national golf teams and teachers of Denmark
(Copenhagen), Finland (Vierumaki), Sweden (Stockholm), China (Beijing), France. (Nime and Paris), Japan (multiple locations), Australia (Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne), Canada (Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, and Edmonton), The Netherlands (Amsterdam), Austria (Vienna), New Zealand (north and south islands) and Italy at many sites.
Served on the GOLF DIGEST professional panel composed (at the time) of Cary Middlecoff, Sam Snead, Paul Runyan, John Jacobs, Davis Love II, Bob Toski, Jim Flick, Eddie Merrins and Wiren. They met twice a year to provide answers to golf questions that were prepared by the editors and subsequently published in the magazine to serve as expert instruction for the readers.
He conducted several military clinics for the Army, Navy, and Marines in sites like Hawaii, Germany, Korea and Texas. Both the Commandant of the Marines and the Navy Pacific Fleet Commander were in attendance at Hawaii.
Gave teaching seminars to the students in the Professional Golf Management (PGM) programs over several years at the University of Colorado, University of Nebraska, Ferris State University, Mississippi State University, and New Mexico State University.
He consulted on the organization and creation of the Swedish Golf Model to build young players into world level competitors. Performed in Sweden and also, taught a three-day teaching and playing seminar for the Swedish PGA in Montreux, Switzerland.
In 2003 Wiren, was the first golf professional ever to lecture at the Chautauqua Institute. This world famous educational summer camp was founded in 1874. Today it is a nine-week program of the arts while featuring lectures given by well-known governmental officials, literary people and well known international figures.
Wiren was PGA of America Teacher of the Year in 1987, only the second to win that award since its inception in 1986 when Manuel de la Torre became the initial recipient.
As the Senior Director of Instruction for all Trump Golf Properties for fifteen years he writes a quarterly newsletter to all the Trump teaching staffs with information how to make learning easier, more effective, and more enjoyable. He also writes a monthly letter, “FINDING THE JOY,” for the membership at Trump International in West Palm Beach.
RECOGNITION, HONORS, AND AWARDS
He was selected as the Keynote Speaker for the First International Scientific Congress of Golf, held at St. Andrews University in 1990. This was attended by leading research scientists, heads of golf associations, golf manufacturing executives, golf school directors, and top professional teachers of the game. He was a featured presenter at Golf Summits in Canada, Australia, France, Italy and the United States.
Inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 2007 along with Jack Nicklaus.
Inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame 2008. There have just been 27 teachers so recognized from the game’s history. As of 2015, Wiren was one of only four PGA professionals to be in both the PGA and World Golf Teachers Halls of Fame. Wiren is also a member of seven other sectional or state Golf Halls of Fame.
Winner of the National Golf Foundation’s Joe Graffis Award for “Contributions to the Game of Golf:” Selected along with Arnold Palmer in 1978.
He was awarded the National Golf Course Owners Association Award of Merit in 1993. The “The Award of Merit is the NGCOA’s longest-running award and is designated for long-term and significant contributions to the game of golf.”
Winner of the LPGA “Wind Under Wings” award for contributions to the instruction of golf. (1999)
Selected as the Ellen Griffin Award winner in 2000.“Which recognizes an individual, male or female, who has made a major contribution to the teaching of golf and who emulates Griffin’s spirit, love and dedication to students, teachers, teaching skills and the game of golf.
He received an honorary doctorate from Ferris State University for his role in founding the Professional Golf Management program, now in its 40th year. Since 1975 Ferris has given more than 1,700 students a head start to their professional careers while earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration during a 4 1/2 year period including internships.
Wiren solely represented the PGA of America at the First PGA World Summit where the Directors and Presidents of the PGA’s of the world met at The Belfry in England. (1980)
Is an honorary member of the New Zealand PGA and has been given awards of recognition from the Italian Golf Federation and the Swedish Golf Union.
In a 2014 the British publication The Annual Review of Golf Coaching that covers the scientific work on the game’s teaching, coaching, and how to improve it, carried a 23 page article by Dr. Simon Jenkins of Leeds University entitled, The Contributions of Dr. Gary Wiren to the Instruction of Golf. Additional commentary from eight persons of note in the golf world takes the total article to 69 pages. Here are some quotes from those comments on the article.
“Dr. Gary Wiren, a golf teacher and educator par excellence, did something most people thought impossible - in 1990 he wrote a book for the PGA of America (The PGA Teaching Manual) detailing a teaching model that thousands of fiercely independent golf professionals agreed was spot on.”
Dr. T.J. Tomasi, Sr. professor and director of research, Keiser University, Top 100 Teacher, and Director of Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers in America
“The PGA of Australia is a great advocate of Dr. Wiren and his global influence as a coach, leader, and educator. His evidence-based approach has permeated the psyche of the modern golf practitioner and his legacy as a “philosopher of the game” will be inherited by future generations of golf professionals in Australia.”
Craig Sharp Executive Officer in Charge of Training and Education, PGA of Australia
“Whether it was as a golfer, author, inventor, coach, educator or researcher, Gary Wiren certainly lived up to another of his central philosophies of life and worked hard and played hard in a positive way.”
Dr. Kyle Phillpots, Director of Training and Education for the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland.
“His devotion to the game of golf combined with ‘a great mind’ are at least in part the reasons what he will for all time be listed alongside the greatest teachers of the game.”
JD Turner, Owner of JD Turner golf Schools, PGA of America Master Professional and “Top 100” Teacher.
WRITING AND AUDIO/VISUAL
Completed a doctoral degree at the University of Oregon with his dissertation topic entitled, The Human Factors Influencing the Golf Drive for Distance (1971) He used 58 subjects that were measured anthropometrically, then tested on their levels of strength and flexibility, followed by swings on a high speed motion capture camera. The data was then studied to develop predictability from a model based on the results of the testing. A very high correlation figure of 92% was attained between the test results and the golf drive.
Wiren has written fourteen books on golf that received national publication. Subjects have focused not only on golf’s mechanics but also the mental aspect. The New Golf Mind (co-authored by Dr. Richard Coop) was the first book written for any sport that dealt with the effect of the two hemispheres of the brain on motor performance. Then on the physical side of golf was his Super Power Golf. Other titles offered help in dealing with all aspects of playing the game. The 2004 book When Golf is a Ball, won “Best Golf Book of the Year” as voted on by ING, The International Network of Golf.
There are over 300 articles that he has authored on the game of golf. He served as the instruction editor of SCORE magazine in Canada, and FORE in the USA: had columns or published articles in GOLF MAGAZINE, GOLF DIGEST, USGA JOURNAL, EXECUTIVE GOLFER, GOLFWEEK, GOLF WORLD, PGA MAGAZINE, FLORIDA GOLF, SVENSK GOLF in Sweden, IGR JAPAN and several other there, plus magazines in Holland and India.
In 1976 he produced a public relations movie for the PGA, “Teacher Player Planner,” which promoted the multiple roles that golf professionals play in service to the game. It starred Tour Professional Mike Souchuck and PGA member Lou Miller.
Wiren created several early instructional videos and audio tapes: HOW TO PLAY YOUR BEST GOLF, THE GREATER GOLFER IN YOU, SECRETS TO POWER GOLF, GOOD GOLF FOR BAD BACKS, and GREAT GOLF DRILLS which included (The Swing) (The Short Game), that were used by teachers and sold in the retail market. One of his best was a non-instructional DVD which won two national awards for sports documentaries, THE FASCINATING WORLD OF GOLF.
During his time in Japan he hosted a one-hour TV golf show for three years on Channel 10 Tokyo. Also, he has performed on The Golf Channel both with instruction and with an historical series, as well on ESPN, Madison Square Garden Network, and in-flight airlines video specials.
Wiren grew up playing at Spring Lake Park, a nine hole, 1,873 yard course in Omaha, Nebraska. It had no bunkers, no water hazards, no practice putting green or range, no watered fairways and dirt tees, yet he was able to produce some respectable on course accomplishments in the game. Although his opportunities in competition were limited because of the pursuit of educational degrees and a family of four with a lifetime care special needs child. His focus then was on work to take care of his family obligations. Later in his career there were some playing opportunities and success.
First team All-State in Nebraska during high school…Omaha Creighton Prep.
Conference golf champion in the South Dakota Intercollegiate while in college at Huron.
After turning professional he won a couple of pro-pro events with scores of 66, but competed infrequently.
Won the World Hickory Golf title in 1978.
South Florida Long Drive Champion in 1982 with a drive of 381 yds, 1 ft. that set a national record between 1st. and 2nd place of fifty yards (2nd place was 331 yds.). The differential stood for twenty-four years. His record drive was made with a wooden headed driver.
S. Florida PGA Sr. Champion in 1994 which qualified him to play in the USGA Sr Championship at Pinehurst, NC. There he made the cut and while required to employ a caddie, set a Sr. Open record by carrying his own bag the full 72 holes as a statement for fitness.
He has also played in two Sr. PGA Championships, four Sr. events in Japan with one top 10 finish, plus one regular PGA Sr. Tour event and one European regular tour event in Italy.
Wiren has played in a considerable number of golf charity fund raising events over the years. The most successful was his ten year appearance at the Warren Buffet Charity Event in Omaha, Nebraska where he annually gave an entertaining and educational clinic and played with participants. The amount raised in those ten days was $10,000,000 for children’s charities in the city. That may be a record.
A summary of Dr. Gary Wiren’s work; ”Few people have had as much influence on so many aspects of the game.“ Considering the breadth of Wiren’s involvement as a teacher, researcher, administrator, speaker, historian, performer, player, coach, inventor, business owner, writer, editor, collector, fitness proponent, founder and TV personality he certainly could be titled, as many have considered him, “Golf’s Renaissance Man”.