I sat down at the kitchen table in Doug Weaver’s home to interview him about his induction into the Low Country Golf Hall of Fame.
His wife plunked down a three-inch thick binder filled with clippings, letters and photos dating from the 1980s. She watched me turn the pages out of the corners of her eyes with a proud grin on her face. Atypical of a Golf Whisperer, the ever-humble Weaver looked away and fidgeted with his hands.
After graduating college and working three years, he got his first big break in 1987. There, he birdied the final hole at the Zell Wood Country Club Open to take his first title. He then won an exhilarating 14 mini-tour events and gained his PGA Tour card in 1988. The pro circuit, however, proved daunting. He made about a third of the tournament cuts—missing others by a shot. This resulted in his full-time status on Tour lasting only a year. Of this grueling experience, Weaver’s wife, Trish, said, “When Doug played golf at that time, he didn’t feel he’d reached his full potential, but even though some might perceive the experience as failure, it pointed him toward becoming an instructor.”
Weaver has coached golf for 25 years. The past 15 he’s been privileged to serve as the Director of Golf Instruction at Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island. His burning desire to give back to the community spurred him to become involved local organizations. Doug works with the HHIPGA Junior Golf Programs, serves as chief golf encourager for Special Olympics Golf, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Boys and Girls Scouting, to name a few. He has been a golf coach for all three area high schools, is deeply involved in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), and hosted a TV golf show for 10 years. Locally, the name Doug Weaver is synonymous with great golf.
I asked when he feels most confident about operating in his “sweet spot.”
Weaver responded, “When I’m speaking, and what flows out is a heart that connects with the student. I watch my students overcome hurdles, both personally and physically. Golf is a game that encompasses the entire person.” On a roll, he continued, “An overconfident personality is bad for your golf game. Teachability, or being coachable, is the most important quality for a student to have.”
I asked Weaver how important a support system had been on his road to success. “Very,” he said, “If you want to be a touring golf professional, you need physical therapists, trainers, a swing coach, a golf psychologist.”
And obviously,” he grinned, “the support of your family!”
After I finished scribbling down what he said, I cocked an eyebrow at Trish. “So as the spouse of a golf pro, what was the funniest thing you can remember happening on the course?”
She grinned wickedly at her husband. “Go ahead,” he said, with a sigh. “I give you permission to tell.”
Eyes dancing, she told me about the time he played with superstar and Defending Champion Tom Kite at The Kemper Open in Washington, D.C. when his ball had taken a bad bounce into the water. Usually, the golf pros put on the rain suits in their bag, but not Weaver. He slipped out of his shoes and socks, rolled up his pants, then pulled off his shirt. “The crowd went wild,” Trish said. “They started chanting, “More! More!” Weaver shrugged and laughed.
Long tagged “The Golf Whisperer,” I asked him why.
He responded, “It is an intangible understanding of the essential elements of success in golf—of what is going on in a golfer’s mind and heart. It’s about getting a person ‘freed up’ to be the best golfer they can be…connecting the right brain to the left brain. Golf is a game of artistry and mechanics. I can see into people…why they under perform; then help them overcome their obstacles.” After a thoughtful pause, he continued, “Injured or handicapped people respond well to golf lessons. They think they can only reach a certain point and no further because of pain or physical inability, but I can usually figure it out.”
Weaver went on to tell about the story of an older, handicapped man who had been abruptly uninvited to golf with his buddies, apparently because his game had become stale. The man didn’t feel his game could get any better due to physical limitations. “Not true,” Weaver stated flatly. “After we spent some time trying different positions, he was able to swing without pain.” Weaver laughed. “He was shocked. And his friends started inviting him to play golf again. I just have enough tools in my toolbox that if one thing doesn’t work, I try something else.”
Weaver’s wife added, “Doug has been able to give so much through golf. It’s been inspiring. It’s not just about teaching the game, it’s about teaching people they can take something difficult, and with the right skills, make it easy.”
Weaver jutted a palm at the air and said, “Life is typically push, push, push…and golf is ‘low heart rate.’ It’s about learning to relax and trust the process.”
The ex-PGA Tour/Golf Whisperer golfer-turned-coach shouldn’t ever have any doubt about his calling. All he has to do is flip through his binder and re-read the hundreds of letters, comments and even poems he’s received from satisfied golf students. Recently, his colleagues voted Weaver the No. 2 instructor in South Carolina in Golf Digest magazine. He was also named Hilton Head Island PGA chapter’s “Teacher of the Year.”
The Low Country Golf Hall of Fame, now in its fifth inductee season, was born to honor the longstanding golf tradition and history of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. It honors a maximum of two, thoroughly vetted nominees per year with a formal induction ceremony and a place of honor among local golf greats on the walls of their location in The Shoppes at Sea Pines Center in The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island.
Ranked the #2 Instructor in South Carolina by Golf Digest and a former PGA Touring Pro, Doug Weaver is the Director of Instruction at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy and leads “Where Does the Power Come From?” a complimentary golf clinic and exhibition on Mondays at 4 p.m. For details and reservations for golf clinics, classes, lessons and on-course instruction, call 888-322-9091 or visit www.palmettodunes.com.