Twenty-five years later, Robert Linville’s Precision Golf School continues celebrating one success story after another, from golfers at the highest level to the rawest of newcomers.
Linville continues working with Mike Goodes, who has earned more than $4 million since qualifying for the Champions Tour in 2007. Linville earned high praise from Scott Harvey, who won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in September. And Linville’s team of instructors works closely with countless golfers around the Triad who just want to play a little better on the weekend.
“There’s a lot of young, really good amateur players, college players – we work with a lot of good players, but also people trying to break a 100, trying to break 90, whatever it is,” Linville said. “It’s exciting to see players win tournaments or play really well in competitions, but it’s also exciting when we can help somebody shoot the lowest score they’ve ever shot.”
In 1989, Linville left Forest Oaks Country Club and Rodney Morrow left Greensboro Country Club to partner in the Precision Golf School startup. Their shop in a business warehouse off Friendly Avenue was the first in the Carolinas to offer video services and integrate computer technology into the teaching program.
Now, of course, Precision is at the forefront of all the technology goodies available to golfers. A new TrackMan for swing and ball flight analysis along with a FlightScope launch monitor “help explain the whys of the golf swing better, elevate our teaching and speed up the process,” Linville said.
Chris Harlow leads Precision’s instruction and focuses a great deal on junior golfers, but Linville has worked with some of the state’s young amateurs competing in national events, college stars now turning pro, as well as the likes of Harvey and Goodes enjoying success on the biggest of stages. Linville has worked with Goodes more than 20 years.
“I’m fortunate I get to work with a lot of good players,” Linville said. “Mike, his work ethic, we keep working the same things over and over and over again and he doesn’t mind that. Guys like Scott, Mike, it’s great to see them get rewarded for their hard work. It’s such a hard game, but it doesn’t mean if you work hard you’re always going to get rewarded. You’ve got to have a lot of talent, too.”
Sometimes, though, that talent needs tweaking – or more. Harvey has been one of North Carolina’s top amateur golfers for years, but went to Linville three years ago to get his swing fixed.
“I went to Robert and talked: The way he says things, relates things, it’s real easy to understand,” Harvey said. “If there’s a problem, he’s going to figure it out. You’re not going to leave Robert not knowing what’s going on. He’s an extremely good guy.”
Harvey credited Linville with helping him win the U.S. Mid-Am after six previous attempts came up short. The U.S. Golf Association puts a premium on driving the ball with its narrow fairways and legendary rough, but Harvey’s driver lacked the precision it needed to successfully tackle such a challenge.
“When he first came, we made some pretty significant changes right away, worked really hard on getting better at those changes,” Linville recalled.
In November, it was time for a major change to get Harvey more square at the top of his swing, changing his club face position and the way his backswing works.
“We sat and talked about it a while, that if we do this, it might do this – chain reaction, other things might not work the way they’ve been working,” Linville said. “He was committed to making the change. He wanted to stand up there with his driver and know he could hit in the fairway. We made the changes quickly, but it took a while to get to where he could depend on them and trust them.”
Linville and Harvey talked and talked about the swing changes. What kinds of shots Harvey might see now. Why? What he needed to do to fix them. For a time, many of Harvey’s drives were staying out to the right, overcompensation for poor shots that had been missing left.
“It’s important to me to know the why of what caused the ball to do this,” Linville said. “By May he had the club in a great position, could hit all the shots he wanted to hit, then he kept tweaking and refining from there. He got more and more comfortable.”
It culminated in Harvey’s triumph against some of the nation’s top amateurs last month in Pennsylvania. He was full of praise for Linville’s contribution.
“It’s not perfect by any means, but it is way, way better than it was,” Harvey said of the work in progress. “It has made a huge difference. I’m hitting driver on holes I never would have hit before because of the confidence thing and I’m hitting more fairways. It’s changed my game completely.”
For his part, Linville downplayed his role.
“My job is easy: I just point and say we need to make this better and here’s why,” the instructor said. “He had to put in all the hard work and it was good to see him rewarded.”
The reward includes a likely invitation to the 2015 Masters. Linville said he is eager to watch Harvey play in Augusta and “see where he goes from there.”
Harvey, meanwhile, is eager to resume working with Linville after taking some time off.
“Start working on a few things for what is hopefully not an embarrassing Masters,” Harvey said with a laugh. “No Mid-Am (champion) has ever made the cut there, so I don’t think anything is expected from me.”