Is this the most bizarre success story in golf?
By Clive Agran
When you choose a particular path, in life, in sport and in business, you never quite know for certain where it will lead.
It is likely to be true for you and was certainly true for the world’s only genuine switch-hitting trick shot artist, Jeremy Dale, who has one of the most unusual success stories in the whole of golf.
About Jeremy Dale – From Caddy to PGA professional
His first job in golf was as a teenage (nine handicap) caddy at the 1984 Open Championship for Ryder Cup player John Garner, who later helped him turn professional. Amazingly by 1999 Jeremy had not only become a PGA professional but had completely re-learned the game left handed and become one of the best trick shot artists around, performing at tour events and golf days all over the world.
He did not set out to become a trick shot artist but a series of improbable events and strange circumstances gave him an opportunity that Jeremy Dale simply had to take.
The Accidental Left Hander
After Jeremy had been coaching all day, head pro John Woof unwittingly gave him the opportunity of a lifetime.
As an assistant, Jeremy saw a good future business model in John. He was a good player, a successful coach, had some sponsors and, importantly, he performed a really good trick shot golf show.
Dale saw what was needed to be able to make a good living in golf – diversification in golf or any business was essential.
The problem was that he wanted to create a show of his own and did not want to copy John too much. He needed his own USP.
Left Handed Golf – the Jeremy Dale USP
At about 4.00pm on an ordinary day in 1991, just as Jeremy had finished his last lesson of the day, John Woof asked:-
“Please can you help me out. I need you to give a lesson to Jan, my sponsor. He is left handed.”
It was a nice experience in itself so afterwards Jeremy asked if he could have a go with his pupil’s club.
Having never hit a shot left handed in his life, Jeremy did not expect much but the swing felt quite good and he was surprised at the quality of his best shots.
Could this be a life-changing moment?
This might not seem like a life-changing moment – and it did not have to be – but Dale decided that it was.
“As soon as I made good contact with the ball I realised that a left-handed swing felt great. I was not very good but I had the feeling of turning easily through the hitting area and I liked it. After a month’s practice, I went on the course for the first time with two other people. I sliced every drive, hit some good irons shots and eventually finished with a score of 40 for nine holes – an amazing four over par for my first ever leftie nine holes. I simply could not believe my luck, I knew then that I had truly found my USP.”
Creating a golf show for lefties and righties
“No one could really quite believe what I was trying to do – although John Woof did tell me to be patient and give it at least two years.”
Within those two years, he had broken 75 in a professional event and is now one of the few golfers in the world to have broken par both ways. Incredibly he has now had six left-handed holes in one – in addition to the two he had right-handed!
Dale always had the skill to perform some of the standard trick shots right-handed like for example the high tee shot or the Happy Gilmore run up shot – a shot similar to a straight drive in cricket. Indeed John Woof would occasionally involve him in his shows at Rijswijk but the next step was creating a show of his own which he did in 1994 after moving to Golf Club ‘t Sybrook, also in the Netherlands.
“I moved clubs and the general manger, Rennie van der Graaf said to me ‘’We need a golf show for the grand opening of the clubhouse – and you’re doing it!’’ So I did and I enjoyed it without being nervous at all and felt in my heart that I could really do something with it. It felt right.”
Wind the clock forward to the present and he is now a world-class switch-hitting trick shot artist who makes it all look so natural.
Gary Player “Just Keep Going”
“These days people assume that switch-hitting was just something I could always do but nothing could be further from the truth. I was recently at an event with Gary Player who told me how belief, persistence and hard work were the only way he had a chance of becoming the best player in the world”
“I know what he means. Effort is everything and if you combine it with a bit of talent and some luck then you have a chance. How many people have given up not knowing how close they came to achieving their dream? I was not going to be one of them.”
Golf meets business for Jeremy Dale
In 1998, Jeremy went full time as a professional golfing showman and was able to turn a passion for golf into a good business.
In 2005 he finished runner up in the World Golf Trick Shot Championships after losing in a play off by the finest of margins. It was a very close run competition and whilst Jeremy was disappointed to lose it was confirmation that his show was of the highest quality. In fact, Mark Roe, one of the three judges that day, said in his closing comments:-
“I think Jeremy Dale is one of the great trick shot artists.”
Since then, Jeremy has also performed with many of the great golfers he grew up watching on TV. Seve, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Tony Jacklin, Padraig Harrington, Ian Woosnam and so the list goes on. In fact Gary Player even booked Jeremy for his own charity golf event, part of the Gary Player Invitational Series.
World’s best left handed coach?
Where a busy schedule allows, Jeremy still does a limited amount of coaching and has found that he is greatly in demand from left handed golfers who want a coach who understands their problems and can demonstrate all the shots “their way”.
He occupies not one but two unique niches in golf as the switch-hitting trick shot artist and specialist coach for left handed golfers.
About Jeremy Dale – Extraordinary things can and do happen
It would have seemed impossible to him as a teenager that he would make a living from golfers watching him hit shots but it has somehow happened.
In Dale’s own words:-
“In the world of golf and business, extraordinary things can and do happen. I had some help from John Woof and John Garner and also a huge stroke of luck to find a USP almost by accident. Then it was up to me to work it out and when I took the show to market, it proved to be very popular. It just shows that once you choose a particular path, you can never really predict where it will all lead.”
The Jeremy Dale story is proof of that.