The Putting Guru
David Orr's coaching helps Justin Rose win his first U.S. Open
BY CHERRY CRAYTON
After golfer Justin Rose won the U.S. Open on June 16, sports commentators attributed much of his victory to improvements in his short game, including putting. The headline of one column on ESPN.com, for example, read: “Putting tweaks help Rose bloom.”
Rose’s short-game coach? David Orr, the director of instruction of Campbell University’s PGA Golf Management University Program, one of only 20 in the country accredited by the PGA.
Orr, who has coached Rose for a year, spoke to Campbell Magazine writer CHERRY CRAYTON in June about Rose’s U.S. Open win and how he came to work with him. The following month, Orr was back by Rose’s side in East Lothian, Scotland, for the 2013 British Open.
Q: How have things been for you since Justin Rose’s U.S. Open win?
Orr: It has been awesome. [In the days following the win], there were a lot of people calling and sending texts and emails. I received almost 200 texts and phone calls with people just congratulating me and Justin. It’s more about him than me. I’m just really happy for Justin, and he’s the one who has done all the hard work and he has a great team around him. I’m grateful to be a small part of that team.Q: How did you come to work with him?
Orr: I met Justin Rose a couple of years ago at the Wells Fargo PGA Tour event in Charlotte. About a year later, he called me and asked me to come down to Orlando to work with him. I spent a few days down there with him, and we’ve worked together for a full year now.Q: What are the practices like?
Orr: I work with him about twice a month. It’s either I go down to Orlando or it’s out on the PGA tour at an event he’ll have me come to. He has been here to Buies Creek. He flew in to Buies Creek just before the tour championship last fall.
We work on his putting, chipping, pitching, bunker play — all his short game, which is what I do. On the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the U.S. Open, I was up there [in Ardmore, Penn.] helping him prepare and map the course [at the Merion Golf Club]. I was there on Tuesday and Wednesday the week of the tournament.Q: How do you think you’ve helped Justin improve?
Orr: We’ve improved his touch, his green reading, his stroke. And it has really been a team thing: his caddy, Mark Fulcher; his full-time coach, Sean Foley; and his mental coach, Dr. Gio Valiante. It’s a team effort.Q: What have you learned from Justin that you’re able to apply at Campbell as you work with the students in its PGA Golf Management program?
Orr: Just learning how to coach at a world-class level. He’s the No. 3-ranked player in the world, and I get to be out there with him and around other top players during the practice round. Just seeing what the best players do and bringing that back and teaching the kids at Campbell has been helpful.Q: What are the similarities and differences between working with players like Justin Rose and working with Campbell students?
Orr: Here it’s more of a teaching environment. Out there, that’s competition on a world stage, and it’s about coaching. Teaching is basically transferring information, and coaching is more about getting somebody to improve performance.Q: Why do you think you’ve been so successful as a coach?
Orr: That’s a hard one. I provide world-class information and coaching. A lot of what I teach is based on the putting research I’ve done here at Campbell. And I’ve had good mentors along the way, and that’s key to anybody’s developments: To have good mentors surround you.Q: Who have been some of your mentors?
Orr: Sean Foley, Andy Plummer, Mack O’Grady, Michael Bennett. And a lot of my colleagues are the best in the world.Q: How did you end up at Campbell?
Orr: I was the head of instruction at Pine Needles Golf Resort in Southern Pines, and I came here when Ken Jones [director of Campbell’s PGA Golf Management program] offered me the opportunity to continue my own education at Campbell and finish up my PGA requirements. That was nine years ago, and I haven’t left.Q: Why have you stayed at Campbell?
Orr: I love Buies Creek and Campbell University and the kids. There's a great facility here, too. What’s unique is that people all over the country come here to take golf instruction. That’s pretty neat. If they’re coming here to me, there’s no reason for me to leave, at least at this point.