THE ROSAFORTE REPORT BY TIM ROSAFORTE
Chuck Cook didn’t see himself going into the 2014 Masters with three players capable of winning the green jacket.
In the years after Payne Stewart died
in a 1999 plane crash, working tour
ranges just wasn’t the same.
Back in the 1990s, Cook coached
Stewart, Tom Kite and Corey Pavin to
U.S. Open victories. This week he’ll argu-ably be the hottest instructor working
the range at Augusta National GC.
“Actually, after Payne died, I sort of
got out of that end of the business,” Cook
said from his rented home in Augusta,
Ga., last weekend. “A lot of guys wanted
to work with me. I turned them down.
That deal [Stewart’s death] was painful.”
What put Cook back in the spotlight
was his odd-couple relationship with
Jason Dufner and how that grew his
business to include Luke Donald and
Keegan Bradley. To Cook it is like hav-
ing a 21st-century version of Stewart,
Kite and Pavin, right down to each
being a distinctive character.
Donald is like Kite. “A shorter [hit-ter] who wants to build the best golf
swing he can,” Cook said.
Bradley is like Stewart. “A feel
player, with a lot of natural ability,”
And then, there’s Dufner, “who,”
said Cook, “is not like anybody I’ve
ever known in golf.”
The beauty of their chemistry is
that Cook never seemed to care when
Dufner bleached his hair and wore
earrings. And Dufner kind of liked it
that Cook, now 69, was old enough to
be mentored by Harvey Penick and to
have watched Ben Hogan hit balls at
Shady Oaks. For Christmas he gave
Dufner a framed 1955 Life magazine
cover of Hogan.
Their relationship started as a
favor to Layne Savoie, former mas-
ter teacher at Cook’s golf academy in
Austin. When Savoie was offered the
head coaching job at Arkansas, he knew
there wouldn’t be enough time to watch
over Dufner. That’s how Cook came to
experience a career renaissance.
First came Dufner’s runner-up finish to Keegan Bradley in the 2011 PGA
Championship and then, ultimately,
Dufner’s win at last year’s PGA.
Donald was the first to follow, making
the transition as Dufner was claiming the title at Oak Hill. In December,
just after Donald defended his title at
the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, Bradley
started working with Cook at The
Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., where he
and Donald are members.
How Cook came to work with
Donald is a story unto itself. After
working with Pat Goss since his days
at Northwestern, Donald wanted to
Thoroughly modern maestro
HE MAY BE NEARING 70, BUT CHUCK COOK’S FORWARD-LOOKING WAYS ARE HELPING TOP PLAYERS TODAY