But it’s not just Tour pros who are excelling under Summerhays’ watchful eye. He’s also honing the swings of his children. Summerhays’ son, Preston, is currently playing golf for Arizona State after winning the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur. It should come as no surprise that talent runs deep in the Summerhays bloodline. Both Summerhays and his brother played professionally, his uncle Bruce won three times on the Champions Tour, and his cousin Carrie competed on the LPGA Tour.
So when it comes to preparing his kids for a future in competitive golf, Summerhays has a very specific strategy, which he explained on this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon.
“I think some people would have a hard time believing this, but for about eight years in a row, I’ve been at a golf course, on average, 350 to 355 days a year,” Summerhays said. “Just on a golf course, in some way, shape or form. Watching my kids, coaching, just doing my job. My kids play over 300 to 320 times a year on a golf course. They’re probably at the golf course hopefully a couple weeks less than me, because they’re players, they gotta take some time off. I’m a coach, I’m gonna work so I can go watch my kids play. But they’re always competing. Always competing. And I think I know why I failed on the PGA Tour. I bounced around instructors, I went from playing all the time, like my kids, always having matches, to getting stuck on a range. And I think I was probably oversensitive — like, okay kids, we’ve done our technique, let’s go out to the course, let’s go out to the course. That’s the side I chose as a coach to err on, is being on the course too much instead of being on the range too much.”
On practice days, Summersays said he likes to set up “derbys” — groups of six or seven kids who all tee off together on a given hole. The worst score on the hole is eliminated. Ties are broken with a lag putt. Summerhays also offers a cash prize for the lowest individual as incentive for players who get knocked out of the derby.
“When you’re going through this derby, every shot counts,” Summerhays said. “That’s what my kids grew up in: every shot counted, so then it becomes habit.
“Look at the best players on Tour, if you really asked them, they’re hustlers,” Summerhays continued. “They’ve been playing money games and matches their whole life. The pressure never goes away, so if you can’t deal with that, you don’t want to be in competitive sports. But then once you wanted to be in there and you accept that there is always pressure, find a way to train where every shot counts. You’re going to be a better player, and you’ll be better under pressure.”
For more from Summerhays, including the pitfalls of chasing perfection in the swing, and why Tony Finau’s second win left him hungrier than ever, check out the full interview below.