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Jim Gormley: Playing with the Pros at the Nissan Open

Jim Gormley is the head club professional at Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes Estates, CA and is a member of the Titleist Advisory Staff. After turning professional in 1995, Jim competed on several mini-tours before becoming the head pro in 2001. A long time Titleist loyalist, Jim was recently the Low Qualifier at Glendora Country Club, earning a spot in this week's Nissan Open. We spoke with him this week as he prepared for the tournament.


Jim Gormley

Q. Have you competed in Qualifiers before? If so, when/where?
JG:  Yes, this is actually the second Nissan Open qualifier I've competed in. I've played in a few other local qualifiers, such as the Buick Invitational, back when I was competing full-time, but this is the first time I've actually made it through qualifying to the tournament. I was a little nervous heading into it because I had only played the Glendora Country Club, where the qualifier was held, two or three times and not in the past several months. The conditions were actually really tough - the greens were hard and very fast - but that actually played to my strengths, one of which is my putting.  

Q. Have you ever played Riviera Country Club? If so, how do you feel the course fits your game?
I feel pretty comfortable playing Riviera. I've probably played it 10-15 times and absolutely love the course. George Thomas, who designed Riviera, also designed my home course of Palos Verdes so there are a lot of similarities in the layout, the bunkers, the greens, etc. Both courses feel very similar, although Riviera is obviously quite a bit longer.  

Q. What have you been working on to prepare for the tournament?
JG:  I've mostly been working on my putting and short game. I like to play more than practice. Standing out on the range hitting dozens of balls isn't something that helps me. I prefer to get out on the course and put myself in actual situations to work through a variety of solutions. I realized that back in 1997 when I was playing on the Canadian Tour and found playing worked best for me.  

Q. Have you been to the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside, CA? How would you describe it to someone who's never been there? What did you learn about your swing or yourself while you were there?
JG:  I don't think describing it can do it justice. It's so detailed, they've honestly thought of everything. It's by far, the best experience you can have as a golfer. You learn everything there is to know about your body and how it relates to your golf game.

The biggest thing I learned out there was how the swing actually works and what my tendencies are. They showed me a new way to look at my overall swing, what I do that works well and what adjustments I can make to optimize my results. One thing I learned was I had too much forward hip thrust. Dr. Greg Rose and Dave Phillips worked with me to understand why I did it, how it impacted my swing, and some drills to help me control it. Since my visit, I've talked to Greg and Dave a bunch of times and they're awesome. I would actually like to go back and go through the two day program so I can learn more about the health and fitness sessions.

Gormley putts during the first round of the 2006 Nissan Open

Q. What influence did your visit to the Scotty Cameron Putter Studio in January have on your game? What are some of the changes, if any,  you made as a result of the visit? JG:  I visited the Cameron Putter Studio for the first time about a year ago and it was incredible. I spent a lot of time with Paul Vizanko, the Senior Fitting Analyst, and we talked about everything to do with putting, starting with how putting works. He helped me get a better understanding of where I need to be in terms of setup and vision. We actually completely changed my setup, which was a major improvement, and they built me a putter. The first one they made me was a little light so they made some adjustments and created a new one, adding some weight and a degree of loft and it was perfect. It's the putter I'm currently using.

Q. What were you able to learn from your time in December with the Titleist FittingWorks crew? What specifically did they help you with?
JG:  I met with the Titleist FittingWorks crew at the end 2005 and it resulted in probably the biggest change I've ever made in my game. I was playing the Forged 735.CM irons, bent one degree upright and, after working with the team through the whole fitting process, ended up bending the clubs to two degrees flat. It actually corresponded with what I learned at the Titleist Performance Institute, although it took some time to get used to the visual change. The first time I played with them, I was somewhat hesitant, thinking the toe of the club would just dig into the ground, but then I saw the results and I became a lot more comfortable. I can now swing more around my body, my arm plane is longer and my divots are more shallow. My ball flight also changed quite a bit, the ball doesn't float as much.

Q. What's in your bag right now?  
JG:  I'm currently playing the Titleist Pro Titanium 905S (8.5) driver, a Titleist prototype 3-wood, Forged 735.CM irons (3-P), Titleist 503 hybrid prototype, Vokey Design wedges (52, 60) and a Scotty Cameron Studio Style Newport putter.

Q. Do you have any superstitions or "lucky" items you keep in your golf bag or pockets that you'll have with you this week?
  I always keep a quarter, a dime and a penny in my pocket and I also always carry a University of Maryland ball mark.

Q. What are you most looking forward to this week at the Nissan Open?
  I think the members at my home course are more excited than me, which is fun. Everyone has been so supportive. I'm more relieved than anything, having tried to qualify a few times in the past. I feel like a big weight has been lifted. It's been fun for me already, seeing some of the guys I played with when I was competing on the mini-tours before I became a club pro.

Q. What are your expectations for the week?
JG:  I just want to play well. This is a situation where you really need to take it one shot at a time and not get caught up in everything going on around you. PGA TOUR events are just such a unique environment, from the size of the crowds to the cameras and background noises. I would obviously like to make the cut, but I just want to play well and then see what happens from there.

Q. How long have you been with Titleist ... how did your relationship with Titleist begin?
JG:  I've been playing Titleist clubs as long as I can remember, at least since high school. It's been about 20 years now. My first set I think were the old Tour models and the first set I had given to me were from Dave Maher, who is now Titleist Vice President of Field Sales. He set me up with a set of Titleist DCI's back in 1995 when he was at Granite Bay in Sacramento, CA.


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