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John Garrity
February 23, 2004
Up before dawn. A cross-country flight. Three Tour pros waiting for advice. Welcome to a day in a swing coach's life
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February 23, 2004

24 Hours

Up before dawn. A cross-country flight. Three Tour pros waiting for advice. Welcome to a day in a swing coach's life

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Brian Mogg's Feb. 11 starts at 4:45 a.m. with the jarring buzz of his bedside alarm. The 42-year-old swing coach gets up quietly so as not to disturb his wife, Vina, and their four children. He shaves, fixes himself a bowl of cereal and stuffs a few final items into his suitcase. Forty minutes later he parks at Orlando International Airport and makes his way to the Delta concourse, where he gets mixed news: He has a first-class upgrade to Dallas, but he will have to endure a cramped seat in coach from Dallas to San Diego.

" John Cook isn't going to play," Mogg says, taking a seat and reviewing his client list. "He withdrew from Pebble with a bad back, and it sounds as if it's fairly serious. Bart Bryant probably won't play, either. He's fifth or sixth alternate." Pulling out his cellphone, Mogg begins pushing buttons with his right thumb, scrolling through messages. "I still have Skip and the two Davids. It'll be frantic."

Three hours later, as he gets off the plane in Dallas, Mogg turns on another hand-held device—a BlackBerry—and begins reading e-mails from other clients. A 10-handicapper from Orlando says he has back-to-back board meetings and needs to reschedule his lesson. A mini-tour player from Wisconsin asks about a swing drill. A corporate-event coordinator provides details about a series of clinics that Mogg will give in April in the Caribbean.

"The pros that I work with are basically friends who live in the Orlando area," Mogg says. "Some pay me a small percentage of what they earn. Some are more comfortable paying on an hourly basis. But you never want to see the business side trespass on the friendship."

The San Diego trip is one of about 15 journeys Mogg makes to Tour events every year—a routine that would have horrified Tommy Armour, the legendary player and teacher who watched his pupils hit balls while he sipped cocktails under a patio umbrella. "You can't simply be a good swinger of the club anymore," Mogg explains. "There's more emphasis on fitness and technology, the mental approach. As a teacher I have to wear more hats than I did even 10 years ago." Mogg has his cellphone to his ear as he boards his connecting flight.

At 11:40 A.M. Pacific standard time, Mogg unzips his suitcase in a parking garage at Torrey Pines, site of the Buick Invitational. "This is the part that sucks," he says, balancing on one leg to put on a golf shoe. "When I was a Tour player, I could put all my stuff in a locker." Around his neck hangs his credential, a yellow card bearing his photograph and the word INSTRUCTOR. It's a passable description and less grandiose than swing guru, a term often applied to high-profile teachers like Butch Harmon and David Leadbetter. "I prefer to be called a coach," Mogg says. "A coach prepares his players to play well, and that's what I do."

From the garage Mogg walks to the putting green, where there's a throng of players and caddies. He quickly spots David Peoples, a 44-year-old pro whose Tour career peaked in the early '90s with a couple of wins. In the few minutes before Peoples goes off to play in the Wednesday pro-am, the two men talk about the new Ping irons that Peoples has just put in his bag. "David had played with an old set for 10 or 15 years, but now he works out a lot," Mogg says. "As he's gotten stronger the clubs effectively have gotten lighter and he had trouble feeling the club-head. With these new irons he feels the club better, he swings faster, and he's a little more in sync." Peoples nods and says, "After one hole I knew it was the right set."

From the putting green Mogg walks uphill to the driving range. Failing to find David Morland among the 20 or so pros, Mogg steps into one of the equipment trailers for a word with the club techs. (Mogg has an endorsement deal with Nike.) Stepping back out, he presses his cellphone to his ear and calls Morland, who is on his way back from a visit to the TaylorMade test center in nearby Carlsbad. Morland's agenda can be guessed at from Mogg's end of the conversation: "Weight is getting on the toes.... Right.... Yep, yep.... Then you raise up.... O.K., that makes sense."

After checking a copy of the pro-am pairings, Mogg scrambles down a steep, dusty slope to the 18th tee of the North course. He gets there in time to stand behind Skip Kendall as the 39-year-old smacks a drive using every ounce of his 5'8", 150-pound body—a maneuver that resembles a sailor tossing a duffel bag into an upper berth.

Walking up the fairway with Kendall, Mogg offers his critique: "Too slow. You don't have the speed and the momentum. It's only one swing, but that's what I see." Kendall nods, having heard it before.

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