The first few years were spent living and eating with the caddies, but in the beginning he couldn't even give his services away. He endured three years of lean times. Finally a Dutch pro, Rolf Muntz, gave him an hour and liked what he heard. Vanstiphout was invited to the Portuguese Open by Muntz, then the Moroccan, and that was the start.
Thereafter he ministered to the lame, the indigent and the imminently cardless of the European tour. Things can only get better, he told himself. For a short while they did. He dispensed good thoughts to Seve Ballesteros. He worked with Thomas Bjorn and Ignacio Garrido, both of whom made the 1997 Ryder Cup team. Then came Goosen.
"It's like a small circle," Vanstiphout says of his business. "Everybody knows everybody. One guy says, 'Wow, what the f—is Jos doing with you?' So he comes along. They get better and better. It's a matter of results at the end of the day. With results the boys are not complaining. They double or triple their money. The players just come—Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Paul McGinley. Now it's easy for me, easy to work with the best racehorses."
So Vanstiphout's dance card is full all day, every day. Everyone, it seems, feels better after a shot of Jos. For a golden stretch last summer the talk on the putting greens was of nothing else. Thomas Levet took the British Masters. Andrew Coltart won die Great North Open. Clarke won the European Open. And there was Goosen at Southern Hills, proving among other dungs that you don't always have to dance with the one that brung ya. Vanstiphout's airfare and hotel were being paid by Michael Campbell, but Campbell obligingly missed the cut, freeing up Vanstiphout to work with Goosen.
In order to prevent uncredentialed snake-oil salesmen from infesting the European tour, Vanstiphout is deliberately vague about what he does and how much he charges. It's about the self you are and the self you want to become, is all he'll say. (It's also about deciding whether that self will pay a percentage of its winnings or a flat fee.)
Says Vanstiphout, "All I can say about what I do is that take Retief for example. The biggest difference with him is that he turned from somebody full of doubt into somebody full of confidence. It's a process of black to gray to white. He's not 100 percent white, but close to it. He can still improve another 30 percent."
Suddenly Vanstiphout is 70% full of fidget. Clients up and down the practice area are calling his name. His cellphone keeps vibrating. Miles to go and minds to sweep. Any more questions, friend?
Is there anyone he yearns to work with?
"For the moment my hands are full. Not even Tiger Woods. Thank you very much."
Anything he misses about the old life?