WE ASKED John Vanderlaan A FEW QUESTIONS.

FORMER GPC JUNIOR ATHLETE, CURRENT KORN FERRY TOUR PLAYER.

If I remember correctly, I started going to GPC when I was 13.

It wasn’t all that it is today but I loved every second of it. We had one simulator, the small gym, a wooden deck driving range and a small red carpet putting green. We had a great group of guys and we got so much work done back then! I started out in the Competitive program and then moved up to the Elite Program a year or so later. It was an after school program when I was at GPC and we looked forward to it every chance we got! We were always there on the weekends and loved competing in everything.

Whether it was wiffle ball chipping over the cash register or pushing the range cart back and forth for a relay race, we were always competing and always wanted to beat each other every chance we got! GPC provided me with the best opportunity to further myself as a golfer and athlete and from day 1 I was able to accomplish that. Attending GPC was one of the best decisions I have made!

GPC helped me reach my goal of playing college golf. Even back then I knew my ultimate goal was to compete on the PGA Tour week in and week out and become the best player in the world. I found Florida Southern through some mutual connections. They were a Division 2 program but they had turned out a number of players to the PGA Tour. They had a track record of competing for national championships and I knew I would have a good chance to play on the team and compete for trophies every week. On top of all that, I was going to Florida. It provided me the opportunity to play year round, compete against some of the best players in the country and play different golf courses that helped round me into the golfer I am today.

“A LOT OF JUNIOR GOLF FOR ME WAS FIGURING OUT WHAT TYPE OF PLAYER I WAS.”

I have picked up little things along the way throughout my golf career that have lead me to where I am today. Whether from other players or just learning  your own game, everything that makes you just a little but better is crucial. A lot of junior golf for me was figuring out what type of player I was. I never bombed it by everyone so my game became just keeping it in play and beating everyone on the greens. I would always work on my weaknesses to try and improve them but it is also important to continue to work on and hone your strengths so they remain your strengths.

When I got to college I affirmed the kind of golfer I was and then it was all about learning how to get the most out of myself under the gun. Remaining calm and especially figuring out how to get the ball in the hole when I didn’t have my best on any given day were skips I developed that really gave me a step up on my competition in college.

“I WOULD SAY THE BIGGEST STRESSOR FOR ME IN PROFESSIONAL GOLF IS THE TRAVEL. YOU SPEND AROUND 25-30 WEEKS OF THE YEAR ON THE ROAD AND THEY ARE FULL WEEKS.”

Oftentimes playing as many as 10 weeks or more in a row without ever making a trip home. Especially when you are a rookie and you don’t know the golf courses it can be tough not to tire yourself out. Typically you’ll fly into town on Monday and hopefully you’re there early enough to go to the course and register and even play nine holes sometimes.

Tuesday is the only full day of practice which is often 18 holes and whatever swing, short game, and putting work you need to get in. Then Wednesday is Pro-am day so you’re either playing nine or 18 and then trying to grab a quick dinner before the tournament starts the next morning, Sunday afternoon comes around and you do it all over again. It’s a grind and you have to love it to be successful.

You really need to figure out what kind of plan works for you to perform your best over a long stretch and stick with it. It’s different for everybody and it may be difficult because what works for you may not work for your friends but you need to put yourself in the best position to succeed. Figuring out how to manage your time is crucial to being a successful professional.

It had always been my dream and getting a taste of playing against the best in the world made me want it so much more!

I have been fortunate to have some success early in my career and even though I haven’t earned my PGA Tour card yet I have gotten a little bit better every year and continue to work  towards my Tour card. In my first start as a professional, I played in the Barbasol Championship on the PGA Tour. It had always been my dream and getting a taste of playing against the best in the world made me want it so much more! I played well and ended up -14 and in a tie for 31st. It was an unbelievable week and that is what I am working towards every day.

A couple of weeks later, I played in the Connecticut Open. I went on to win there for my first win as a professional. Earning my first win as a professional in my home state of Connecticut was a dream come true and kick started my pro career. It gave me confidence going forward that I took into Q School and used my early experience to earn my Korn Ferry Tour card.

“Both of my parents made every sacrifice they could every step of the way for a kid that wanted to be a professional golfer and they never complained about it.

There are so many people that have helped me get to where I am today and have supported me without question at every turn. The first is my parents. My Dad found GPC, originally as a place for my brother and I to spend the winters. We both wanted to play college golf and beyond and he found GPC online and they became like a second family. Both of my parents made every sacrifice they could every step of the way for a kid that wanted to be a professional golfer and they never complained about it. I am forever grateful for how they believed in me and gave me everything I needed to succeed.

The next person is my fiancé Hannah. We have been together going on seven years now and she has always encouraged me to be the best version of myself on and off the golf course. We met when I was in my sophomore year of college and she believed in me from the beginning. She would encourage me to practice when I just wanted to hang out and has always pushed me to be my best! I am very lucky to have her in my corner and she continues to be my biggest supporter. She now travels virtually every week with me and works hard to make life comfortable on the road. She does whatever she can at every turn to make sure I am ready to compete at the highest level and believes we can accomplish everything together.

There are so many people that have always supported me along the way but the last one I am going to mention is Roger. Roger met me when I was 13 and has known me half my life. He has been there at every stage of my development through junior golf and into college and continues to be one of my biggest supporters as a professional. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all that Roger has done for me. He has a wealth of knowledge in the industry as well as his own personal experience from playing and being around professionals that has helped me get to where I am today.

The number one thing I would tell the juniors at GPC right now is to…

Find what works for you. Figure out your game and what shot is your go to. Figure out how to score on days when you don’t have your best game because odds are you won’t have your best stuff a lot of the time and you need to learn how to beat everyone without your “A” game. The more in depth you get with learning yourself and your game the better you will be able to manage when things start to go wrong and get back on track.

“Right now I am working hard on my putting.

I am still putting in work on my long game and short game but statistically putting was where I needed the most work. Typically I have had the opposite be true but this season I hit the ball better than I ever have and if I could have made just a few more putts I would have earned my tour card. So right now I am continuing to fine tune my full swing and short game while making the biggest strides in my putting and that should put me in great position next season!

“I think everybody has a thing or two that they do to feel comfortable.”

When I was in junior golf I got in the habit of starting every round with five tees in my pocket and still start every round that way to this day. Additionally when I was playing junior golf my sister was at a tournament with my parents and picked up a little rock from the cart path and told me it was my lucky rock. I have carried that rock with me as my lucky rock every day since then! It never comes out of my bag!

I would have to say my favorite club is my putter.

The way I grew up I was never the best ball striker but could always make up shots on the greens. I love when you hit a bad shot and then you get yourself back in position and make a long putt for par. Especially when  you’re playing with someone that hits two good shots and two putts and you can see they start to get frustrated. Even more so in match play. I love knocking in long putts on the greens, especially when you’re coming down the stretch of a tournament and watching the wind come out of your opponents sails.

“I don’t have too much coming up in the next few months. I am really dialing in my training plan in the gym to try and improve that aspect of my game, and continue to work to get a little bit better at every aspect of the game.”

After 25 weeks on the road through the beginning of September, I am very much looking forward to spending some time at home with family and friends. My fiancé and I are getting married next year and we have a dog named Bunker. He’s our little man and there is no better way to spend down time than with the two of them! Our season starts back up in January so the plan is to get better at every aspect of my game in the next few months and spend quality time with family before we get back on the road!