News & Events
Ambassador’s Corner – Smylie Kaufman
Smylie Kaufman opens up in this interview about Full Swing Simulators and sharing some common milestones with a couple of golf’s greatest players.
Q: Are you aware that both Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk had their first career professional victories at Shriner’s? These guys were in the prime of their careers as you were growing up and at the age where you started to get serious about golf, so what does it mean to you to be in that company?
Kaufman: I was not, but that’s really cool. I grew up watching those guys. I think Jim came along before Tiger, but those two guys were part of the group that really helped lead in a new era of golf and I was just starting to play golf around that time, so it means a lot to me. Growing up in the Southeast, The Masters is huge, and I remember watching it every year, especially Tiger’s victories. He made it fun to watch and play golf. Everyone wanted to be just like him. Also, Jim has been a staple of professional golf for as long as I can remember. I’ve had the pleasure of playing a few rounds/practice rounds with Jim and he’s such a good guy. He’s a great guy and a fun person to be around. So yeah, that’s really exciting to be in the same company as those two guys that I grew up watching and really respect.
Q: Following up on that, Woods and Furyk have had impressive careers since their first professional victory’s in Las Vegas. How can you use that to motivate yourself?
Kaufman: You know I always want to motivate myself to improve and be a better player. But it doesn’t hurt knowing that two really established guys that I admire got their careers started the same place I did. It’s obviously way too early in my career to start comparisons to anybody, especially those guys, but the win I had here 2 years ago certainly helped jumpstart my career. It gave me basically a 3-year exemption and got me into all the big events, majors, WGC’s, etc.
Q: Not only do you share this tournament victory with Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, but all three of you are Full Swing Simulators team members. How do you use the simulator as part of your practice routine and in preparation for the season? Has the feedback been helpful for you?
Kaufman: Well first and foremost, I like to have fun on the simulator – especially playing around on it with my friends. It’s just a cool thing to be able to play on, and it makes it easy for us to get in 18 holes in less than an hour. But the simulator has become a fun part of my game improvement strategy when I am home in Birmingham. As a game improvement tool, Full Swing’s dual tracking technology has given me amazingly accurate and helpful data points to try and improve the weaknesses in my game. At the same time, it has also confirmed some of the things I know I am good at and given me confidence. Especially in the off-season, I like to get on the simulator and understand my ball speed, spin, and launch angles. I think dialing in on all those things consistently will give me confidence and help me go out there and be able to compete week in and week out. So, it’s pretty cool and I have enjoyed working with it, especially in the comfort of my home club in Birmingham.
Q: What are you looking to improve most upon this season?
Kaufman: I’d like to get into contention on the weekends much more often this season. My rookie year I was in contention a lot more than this past season. I learned a lot from those tournaments and I feel like I just need to get back into those situations and I’ll be much better prepared for it this time around. And I think for me it all starts off the tee. If I can hit more fairways this year, it sets up the rest of my game so well. I can attack the par 4’s with wedges and I can reach a lot of the par 5s. If I do that and I get hot with the putter I feel like I can contend consistently out here on tour.