Q&A with NJSGA Hall of Fame Member, Ed Whitman
Ed Whitman is one of the most distinguished and decorated club professionals in New Jersey history. He has compiled a staggering 225 professional wins and collected 20 major professional championships in the Garden State. His most notable victories are titles in the 1991, 1995, 1996, and 2004 Open Championships. He is also a four–time winner of the New Jersey PGA Section Championship (1982, 1983, 1987, 1990).
On May 4, 2022, Ed was inducted into the New Jersey State Golf Association Hall of Fame.
As an instructor, you’ve given thousands of hours of lessons to countless players. What are the most common flaws you’ve seen in:
EW: “Often, a student’s hands don’t match up and one hand opposes the other, so their arms don’t work in tandem. As Arnold Palmer once said, the grip is the predictor of what kind of player you’ll be.”
EW: “In many instances, a player’s toe–line aims too far right of the target, and the shoulder–line aims too far left of the target (or vice–versa for a lefty). It creates an alignment problem and leads to an ‘over–the–top’ move.”
EW: “I teach a one–piece takeaway. Most often, my students use their wrist lever a little too early to try to create leverage and speed, but it results in a shorter backswing, which is a smaller, less speedy golf swing. I teach a longer, one piece backswing.”
EW: “The most common error I see is people coming out of posture and coming from that unwanted ‘over–the–top’ move I mentioned earlier.”
Golf can become a very technical sport. What would you say to a player who is thinking about swing mechanics too much on the course?
EW: “I think we hear about it when we watch Tour events on television. But when you’re playing golf, do not play “golf swing” while you’re on the course. You’re there to play golf, so focus on the golf and not your swing.”
Putts between three and six feet can have a significant impact on your score. What advice would you give a player who is inconsistent in making short putts?
EW: “I think most people misjudge speed, which is why they miss shorter putts. I suggest practicing a more consistent set-up and practicing a speed drill, like putting to a coin or a tee rather than to a hole. This helps narrow the focus to concentrate on distance.”
I have 10 minutes before my tee time. My options are to take swings at the range, practice short chips from off the green, or putt. Which should I choose and why?
EW: “I would focus on putting. First, it’s normally more convenient because the practice green is usually near the first tee. Second, putting represents 40–50% of the scoring total in terms of strokes.”
You were able to hit the ball long off the tee. Do you have a general tip for a player who is looking to increase their distance driving the ball?
EW: “Distance has a direct correlation to clubhead speed. Since everyone is built differently, some possess that speed and some don’t. Those seeking to increase clubhead speed should seek physical training to improve their strength and flexibility.”
You are one of the newest members of the NJSGA Hall of Fame and have been crowned champion of the NJSGA Open four times. What has been the most consistent aspect of your game and how has it made you a successful player?
EW: “Overall, my putting has been my strongest asset. I’ve always putted with the belief that I would make the putt that I was facing and convinced myself that all I needed was the right speed and direction. I committed to that simple approach and have had success.”
What’s the best advice you were given as a player?
EW: “There was no single tip. It was an accumulation of years of advice from a lot of good people including Tour Pros, instructors, and my golf buddies. In my case, I absorbed a lot of data and transformed into something successful.”