The Challengers George Gankas
On screen text: Charles Schwab Presents
George Gankas: I get that a lot of real golfers don’t hit off mats. But to me, I know contact. I can always tell when a ball’s hit well—I can hear it.
On screen text: The Challengers
A series about people who QUESTION. ENGAGE. SUCCEED
George Gankas: My name is George Gankas. I’m a golf pro out of Westlake, California. I was not a golfer first. I was actually a wrestler, played volleyball, played baseball, played a bunch of different sports. And my senior year in high school, my dad took me out golfing and he told me if I ever actually beat him, he’d quit golf. I said, ”All right, that’s some motivation.” And beat him the very next year, shot a 71. I played at junior college for two years at Ventura College, and then I walked on at Cal State, Northridge and played two years there.
George Gankas: Well, I started caddying out at Sherwood Country Club just so I could play more. And in the mix, I started helping a lot of the members there at getting better. And [I started hearing]: ”You should teach, you should teach.” I’m all: ”I’m not teaching.” It ended up to a point where I started doing a couple Juniors around town here, and they started winning. So I was like, maybe this is my calling.
“And right here, I want this shoulder to retract a little. I have to go back one more time.”
I really love teaching, but what I question most is: Why are people teaching the same thing to everybody? Does it matter what a golf swing looks like, if it works?
On screen text: On-screen text: Does it matter what a golf swing looks like if it works?
George Gankas: For me, my student Matt Wolff probably has the least aesthetically pleasing swing, but if you watch him hit balls, it’s probably the most impressive sound, ball flight, everything. I never really had a coach. It was more of me experimenting. I am more hands on, because then I find that I can get better results.
On screen text: I am more hands on.
George Gankas: But I can move a shoulder, I can move here, I can move legs. And I feel like in an hour I get way more done than anybody on the planet.
George Gankas: I have devices I developed so they could do things on their own. I made a GSnap, OK. And the GSnap basically just makes the face closed. As soon as they heard click, they’re like, oh, my arms move back in front. I have an entourage, basically, every time I teach. If I was in a country club, I couldn’t do that. And I love the camaraderie out here. I love that people are practicing together, and all my players that are here, they love it because they get to hit balls and talk trash to each other. It’s an everyday thing. And I think that if I didn’t have anybody out here, I’d kind of be bored.
George Gankas: Good, very good. So that felt more compressed, right? So we’re going to get this moving back, as this is down. Now, start down, get that hit back.
So Johnny’s my mover, he actually does all the hard work. He’s one of my best friends and I think he’s one of the best movers that I’ve ever had.
Johnny Reese: My name is Johnny Reese and I’m a professional golfer. I’ve been working with George about 10 years. Everything that George does is just a little bit different than most people. He’s definitely one of a kind. The way George gets in there or myself get in there and move people around would be a little bit unusual, but without giving someone the feel for it, a lot of people would not get it. George loves golf. I get calls at 5:30 in the morning with a swing video and he is yelling at me for not answering my phone call because he wants to see what I see or teach me something. And he’s got a solution for any player, not just a good player. He knows when to change something and when to leave something alone. And it’s pretty crazy to see, when he goes to work with someone, how fast he gets them to hit it well.
George Gankas: I think it’s very important to look at old timers. They always had rhythm, full turns, they always had great impacts, a lot more movement, a lot of triggers. And I think when you create more movement at start, it is becoming more athletic. Anytime we get stuck over a ball, the body doesn’t turn. The arms move faster than the body. And I think that’s where a lot of the compensations, the tilts, the standups, the timing of the hands through the ball become normal. And if you look at Matthew Wolff, you’ll see that he starts this way at an impact and boom, boom. And then he goes, and he always has great rhythm, and I think that that takes his mind out of the shot. It’s almost like boom, boom, go. And the bigger his trigger is, the better he plays. You can tell he is freer, he has more confidence, and I think that’s very important.
George Gankas: I think a good golf coach is someone who is not concerned with what everybody else thinks about you and what you teach. I think there’s someone who is more concerned with your players, how they perform, and how you can help them. I’ve been teaching since ’98, so what is that, 25 years, almost? I have an online academy. I have people that DM me on social media. So I’ve probably taught more than 10,000 people in my career. So when people ask me, what is there left to do? You’ve taught PGA TOUR® winners, you’ve taught division one, number ones. What else is there to do? I do think that I still have a lot of game, but I would like to compete. So I’d say that that’s what’s left for me, is not trying to prove how good I am at coaching. It’d be more for what I can do for myself.
Johnny Reese: I really want him to actually go try and qualify for the senior tour. I don’t think people realize how good he is. He just loves it so much.
George Gankas: What I love about golf is that it doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re a pro or a really good amateur. It’s a tough game.
On screen text: ASK QUESTIONS. BE ENGAGED.
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George Gankas: I don’t have a proudest moment in teaching. I’d say I’m proud every time one of my players calls me and says that they had a great day. That makes me proud.
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