The first time Grant Waite met Jodi Ewart Shadoff, it rained. He filmed two swings and they talked about his back pain. Ewart Shadoff, who had missed the cut in eight of his last 10 events, feared his career would be cut short. Waite offered some swing-change suggestions to ease the pain and said he would see her soon at the LPGA stoppage in Arkansas.
The first hole at Pinnacle Country Club is on the shorter side, and Waite, a former PGA Tour winner, saw Ewart Shadoff drop it 6 feet from around 70 yards. What happened next made a strong impression.
“She walked onto the green, she just kind of really stopped breathing,” Waite said. “I could tell by her body language how stressed she was. Not only was the situation where she was standing on the money list, but playing golf right now. I said I’ve never wanted to walk onto the green and give a player a hug and tell them everything will be fine; Can I help you.”
Grant Waite tees off on the third hole during the second round of the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club on October 8, 2016 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Ewart Shadoff finished seventh the following week at ShopRite, helping secure her status for 2022. And then, about a year after their debut, the 34-year-old Englishwoman earned her 246th LPGA start.
“He walked for me,” Ewart Shadoff said of his work with Waite. “He knows how it feels. He knows how it feels on the golf course. The cool thing about working with Grant is he knows what I’m thinking. He knows the emotion it takes to win.
After playing on the PGA Tour for 13 years, Waite, the 1993 Kemper Open champion, switched to teaching. His list of Tour clients included Charles Howell, Aaron Baddeley, Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir.
The Kiwi then quit coaching to join the PGA Tour Champions, that is until two surgeries to repair a torn rotator cuff resumed his teaching career. In addition to several PGA Tour hopefuls, Waite’s current roster of LPGA clients represents a wide variety of players at different stages of their careers.
Patty Tavatanakit chats with her caddy on the ninth tee during the first round of the Gainnbridge LPGA at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club on February 25, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
That list no longer includes Patty Tavatanakit, however, who recently told Waite she wanted to go her own way. He started working with the talented Thai player ahead of the 2021 season, and she broke through with the Chevron Championship title and the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. The pair have worked together on and off this season.
In addition to Ewart Shadoff, Waite’s client list includes promising players preparing for the Q-Series and a major champion returning from maternity leave. Here’s how it helps each of them:
Jodi Ewart Shadoff
Paula Reto and Andrea Lee splash Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England with water on the 18th green after winning the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship at Saticoy Club on October 9, 2022 in Somis, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Waite predicted an Ewart Shadoff victory two weeks before doing so.
“She’s extremely talented,” Waite said. “She just had blockages. My goal was simply to remove these blockages.
Waite kept telling Ewart Shadoff that she had everything it took to win. Convincing a player who had begun to doubt that this would ever happen was an important part of the process.
They also worked a lot on putting, matching speed to line, an area that gave Ewart Shadoff tweaks for a long time.
Before Ewart Shadoff won the Mediheal, Waite told Golf Channel analyst Morgan Pressel that Ewart Shadoff was as good as any player he had ever coached.
“It’s not a positive thought,” Waite said. “It’s just underlining a reality of how good she is.
“One of her strengths is that she always fights. I’ve seen her rescue rounds; I’ve seen her recovery tournaments. I knew the fight is in her. It’s inherent in her. That is not something she tries to do.
Paula Creamer plays her shot from the fifth tee during the second round of the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G at Kenwood Country Club on September 9, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Both Paula Creamer and Waite are members of Isleworth, and the 10-time LPGA champion offered to work together last September when she was pregnant with daughter Hilton Rose.
“He definitely watched my body transition for a year together,” Creamer said. “We had time to be able to break everything. We had the opportunity to do it since I was away on maternity leave. We took advantage of that and changed every aspect of my game.”
Waite said Creamer, 36, is as competitive as any player he coaches and described the changes to her swing as significant.
“She wants to understand what she’s doing,” he says. “She wants to be better. She wants to come back and be a competitive player on the tour, not just someone who does numbers. She wants it and I think she is capable of doing it.
Creamer returned to the LPGA at the Dana Open in Toledo. She has competed in five events this fall, with her best finish, a T-29, coming to Mediheal.
“I trust him and I trust what he kind of came up with with my golf swing and what we can do,” Creamer said, “and now it’s up to me to bring him in.” on the course.”
Amelia Garvey plays her shot off the 4th tee during the second round of the Epson Tour Championship at LPGA International Champions on October 7, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Amelia Garvey is exempt from the final leg of LPGA qualifying thanks to her top 35 finish on the Epson Tour money list. Garvey, a fellow Kiwi who graduated from USC, ranked 33rd on the awards list with three top-10 finishes.
Garvey underwent a major swing reconstruction with Waite to help produce more consistent shots. The mighty player finished third on the Epson Tour in driving distance and ninth in greens in regulation. Waite said she averaged 105 mph.
“It’s been a long road trying to get the swing where it needs to be,” Waite said.
“All this year she’s worked extremely hard on her development. I think her swing is really, really powerful and it’s one of the best swings you’ll see on a female golfer. It’s very impressive.
Ana Belac of Slovenia watches her tee shot during the second round of the Dana Open at Highland Meadows Golf Club on September 2, 2022 in Sylvania, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Duke graduate Ana Belac only recently began working with Waite. He noted that, like Garvey, Belac has quite a bit of swing work to do. The Slovenia native finished her Duke career with the program’s seventh-best running average of 72.90 and helped the Blue Devils win the 2019 NCAA title.
Belac finished first on the 2020 Epson Tour shortened season money list to earn his LPGA card. She is currently 149th on the CME points list and ranks 128th in greens in regulation.
Gabriela Ruffels during the first round of the Epson Tour Championship during LPGA International Champions on October 6, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Gabriela Ruffels transitioned from tennis to golf at the age of 15 and, even as a former United States Amateur Champion, she is still relatively new to elite golf. Ruffels missed Series Q access by a stroke last season and spent 2022 on the Epson circuit, where she finished 15th on the price list. (The top 10 earn LPGA cards.)
Ruffels led the tour in birdies for the season, recording 18 more than No. 2 Hyo Joon Jang.
“She birdies a lot, clearly she led the tour in birdies,” Waite said, “but she makes too many mistakes. It’s not because she hit wild shorts. ‘she doesn’t economize on the most basic and simple movements.
Waite said the next step is to help Ruffels develop more shots, strengthen her short game and learn to read a golf course the first time she sees it.
“With Gabi, it’s really about getting him to understand how to be a professional,” he said, “how to go about practicing his game, the things that we’re going to develop and how you develop them while playing tournament golf.”
The LPGA Q Series will be played the first two weeks of December at four different courses in Mobile and Dothan, Alabama.