Honoring a Legend: Former PGA Tour Player Grier Jones – The Best Advice

Greer Jones
For those of you who don’t know my background in golf, here is a brief summary.
  • I Began playing at the age of 10 (now 28)
  • After being taught by local PGA Professionals and other good players around me, I improved quickly
  • I won the South Central Junior PGA Championship at age 15
  • Won my first High School Tournament as a Freshman at 15
  • At 16, I was ranked 28th in the Official World Junior Golf Ranking
  • My High School Team won the Class 6A State Championship all 4 years (we won 10 in a row from 2004-2013)
  • I won 6 of 9 tournaments in 2009 as a Senior in High School
  • Was named Oklahoma Junior Golfer of the year in 2009
  • Inducted into Edmond Junior Golf Hall of Fame – 2015
  • Earned a full scholarship to play at Texas Tech University in the Fall of 2009
  • 3 top-10 finishes / 1 top-25 finish
  • Finished 4th in the Big XII Championship in 2011 behind Morgan Hoffman-1st, Kevin Tway-2nd, Jordan Russell-3rd, tied-4th with Peter Uihlein
  • In 2012, I transferred to Wichita State University for my last 2 years of Division I College Golf
When I got to college, I only had a few good finishes in tournaments during my 3 years at Texas Tech (red-shirted my first year).  Looking back on it now, it is very clear to me exactly why this occurred.  My practice became disorganized and without purpose. The lack of clarity and specificity took a huge toll on my game.  I was lost and had strayed away from my roots that made me the great junior player that I was.  It had become time for me to make a change if I wanted to turn it around.  Looking back I have to thank Texas Tech Head Coach – Greg Sands for a full release.   (Huge congrats for all of your success.  Go Red Raiders! By the way!)
I decided to transfer to Wichita State in the Summer of 2012  which turned out to be the best decision I ever made.  Mostly because I would be Coached by the Legend Grier Jones.  For those of you who don’t know Grier’s background, here it is:

  • 1966 Kansas State Amateur Champion
  • All-American @ Oklahoma State University – 1967 & 1968
  • Big Eight Individual Champion – 1967 & 1968
  • Won NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship – 1968
  • Won Oklahoma Open in 1968 – 1st Professional Win
  • PGA Tour – Rookie of the Year – 1969
  • Spent 14 years on the PGA Tour
  • 3 Wins on the PGA Tour
  • 54 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour
  • Became the Head Coach at Wichita State in 1995 and retired after this past Season in 2019
  • Inducted into Kansas Sports Hall of Fame – 2010
  • Led WSU to 15 Conference Championships
  • 13-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year

In February of 1978, Grier played in a PGA Tour event called the Inverrary Classic in Lauderhill, FL.  With 5 holes to play, Grier had a 3 shot lead over Jack Nicklaus.  The Golden Bear went on a tear down the stretch making birdies on the last 5 holes to beat Grier by 1 shot.  Grier playing the last 5 in 1 under (4 pars and 1 birdie). Jack shot 65 in the final round and Grier shot 67.  At the time, this was considered to be “one of the most memorable finishes in golf history” by the New York Times.

Coach Jones is very well known around the College Golf World.  Anyone who knows Grier has the utmost respect for him because he made it all the way to the top and very few have.  As Baylor Head Coach Mike McGraw said, “he dug it out of the dirt”.  One of the most humble, kind, and disciplined people I have ever met.  Ever since he recruited me in High School, I felt I needed to spend time with the man.  Being stubborn, it was tough for me to see that right out of High School.

If you ask Grier about his time spent on the PGA Tour, this is what he will say – “It was a long time ago and I had too many seconds”.  However, you could tell that he loved every second of it.

He allowed me to see the game in an entirely different light and I will never forget him say, “the more you put into this game, the more it will give back”.

#1. Make all 4 foot putts and in

In college, we practiced on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  3 hours each day.  1 hour of putting, 1 hour of short game, 1 hour of wedges and full swing.  We always had to start with putting.  Not only did we have to start with putting, but we had to pick a 4 foot putt and make 20 in a row from that location.  If we missed one, then we had to go back to 0 and start again.  We called this the “line drill”.  Once we completed 1 line.  We had to then choose another 4 foot putt and do it again.  So, complete 2 lines during the hour.  Here’s the catch – if we didn’t complete the 2 lines, we couldn’t begin the short game practice.  Some of us would be putting for the entire 3 hours of practice.

#2. Never miss a green with a wedge

This goes for all wedges (pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge).  Grier’s philosophy on this was that the wedges are the easiest to hit.  Also, that the size of a golf ball and the size of a typical green are in no comparison.  Meaning that, it shouldn’t be that difficult to hit a ball on the green with a wedge.  The better you get with your wedges, the more opportunities you will have and the lower your scores will be.

#3. Never bogey a par 5

When looking at par 5’s, the worst score Grier ever wanted to see us make was a par.  Par 5’s are extreme opportunities in the game because you have 3 shots to get the ball onto the green and have an opportunity for birdie.  At the College and Professional level, ideally we want to be up around the green in 2 shots.  Therefore, making a 6 on a par 5 is always going to be giving shots away to the field.  Play these smart and strategic.

#4. Eliminate the left side of the golf course

When I arrived at Wichita State in 2012, I had a two-way miss.  I could miss it left or right.  Grier quickly taught me that not knowing where my misses are, how much more difficult it makes the game.  The shot I always had difficulty controlling was the draw/hook.  This was something I had to eliminate.  I had to understand why I hit that shot at times and what I had to do to build better habits so that I could swing and see a straight shot or a slight fade.  I’ll never forget Grier saying, “there aren’t too many things better than stepping on a tee, aiming down the left center of the fairway and being able to swing as hard as you want and know that the ball won’t go left.  Learning to have a consistent miss is critical in this game.  After all, 75% of all golf shots are mis-hits.

#5. The first 3 and the last 3

Grier advocated starting strong and finishing strong.  This is where tournaments are won and lost.   The first 3 holes and the last 3 holes, Grier always wanted our scores to be Even or Better for these 6 holes.  Beginning the round well sets the momentum.  The last 3 is where most falter.  By playing these last 3 in even or better, you will always make up ground on the field.

#6. Play to the middle of the green unless you have a “green light”

Golf course architects like to play with the golfers mind and set pin locations in areas that look inviting even when in reality, they are not.  Grier wanted us to learn how to approach golf courses and see it for the way it is designed to be played in its easiest form.  Say the pin location is on the far right side of the green and it is guarded by water along the right side.  Coach never wanted us to aim at the pin because if we did and pushed it, the ball would end up in the water.  In this case, we aimed to the center of the green or even slightly left of center.  This way, if we missed the shot a little and pushed it, the ball would end up by the pin.

#7. Learn composure

If anyone knows how mental this game is, it’s Grier.  He would always talk about composure.  We would often have Team meetings where he would go around to each one of us and ask us what we thought “having composure” meant.  He wanted us to learn what this was for ourselves and what it could do for our performance in golf and in life.  The definition of composure – the state or feeling of being calm and in control of oneself.  Finding that place where you are fully in control of all the things you can control is a powerful place.  There are too many things that we cannot control and sometimes those are the things that get the best of us and detract from what we can control.  Grier would always tell us before rounds, “control what you can control”.

#8. Understand wind and how it can affect your swing

During our full swing practice sessions, Grier would always find the location where he wanted us to hit from.  We often wondered why he would do this at times until he filled us in on the secret.  Grier always wanted us to hit directly into the wind.  Never downwind or crosswind.  The reason why is because hitting directly into the wind is the purest form of feedback when it comes to ball flight.  A purely straight shot won’t be affected by the wind.  A shot that has curvature will be magnified allowing one to hone in on his/her technique.  Also, hitting into the wind allows one to learn how to control spin.  Shots with too much spin will balloon.  Shots with not enough spin will nose dive.  It enhances solid contact.

Here is also what we would do if we weren’t able to find a spot directly into the wind.  As Grier said, “never fight the wind – let it work in your favor”.

Left to right wind – make sure the ball starts left of target

Right to left wind – make sure the ball starts right of target

Downwind – balanced finish because the wind makes the body want to slide forward targets the target

Here are the results from my 2 years at Wichita State University:

  • 10 top-25 finishes
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 2 Missouri Valley Conference Team Championships – 2013, 2014
  • Won Missouri Valley Conference Championship Individually – 2014
  • Missouri Valley All-Conference Individually – 2014
  • 2 NCAA Regional Team Appearances – 2013, 2014
  • Last Collegiate Round – 68 in the NCAA West Regional @ Eugene Country Club (1 of 3 rounds under par in the entire field)
  • Senior year scoring average – 71.3 (Top 20 in Division I College Golf)

Thank you Coach Jones!

The Professional Journey Continues…

Pictured below: Coach Tony Blake, Alec Heinen, Rafa Becker, Louis Cohen-Boyer, Calvin Pearson, Hunter Sparks, Tyler Gann, and Conrad Walcher – Love you guys.

 

10 thoughts to “Honoring a Legend: Former PGA Tour Player Grier Jones – The Best Advice”

  1. Thank you Chandler for sharing. What a great tribute to a coach you received such valuable training from. Also thank you for sharing your accomplishments of your early years in golf. Very impressive.

  2. Grier-What a great knowledge of the game that you have in teaching the great game we are blessed with. That is the new golf bible.

    It is great to hear you again! You have always been a star! Would love to say hi the next time I am in a Wichita!

    Great times my friend!

  3. Great article Chandler. Thanks for sharing the lessons and insights from a very important teacher! Great lessons for all of us on the journey!

  4. Chandler:
    I found your your early experiences in golf very interesting and extremely impressive. But now I need the rest of the story. When and why did you go Single Plane, and what did that do for your game? Looking forward to Chapter 2!

  5. Chandler,
    I really enjoyed your article. To hear someone’s journey is always interesting and revealing. It sounds like you feel fortunate to be able to continue a career in a field that you love.

    I would love to hear about how you came to become part of Graves Golf.

  6. Chandler,
    Excellent article, thank you for sharing and look forward to Chapter 2. Always fun to hear about others golf experiences.

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