Dr. Luke Benoit, PhD
Director of Instruction / Interlachen Country Club
Founder and Inventor – The Rypstick
Interview with Matt Ward
Has been a Golf Digest “Best Young Teacher” for a decade and is a leader in the field of helping amateurs and professionals gain club head speed safely and efficiently.
THE BENOIT STORY —
I started golfing when I was 13. Prior to that time, I was a baseball and ping pong junkie. My hand eye was solid and I broke 80 within the first year of first playing a round. My grandpa gave me the only golf lesson I had growing up. He taught me the physics of golf — path and face. By the end of that afternoon, I was able to hook it and slice it at will in spite of an incredibly homemade swing. He said, “Luke, now that you can curve it both ways you’ll have the pleasure of spending the rest of your life learning how to hit it straight!”
After learning the basics of shotmaking I started digging into the finer points of competitive golf. Like all of us, some things came easier to some than others. I was really good at putting, chipping, and scrambling. I also hit it kind of far. What I wasn’t good at was hitting it straight! Unsurprisingly, the experiences of my early competitive golf years have influenced my teaching style. While so many other coaches are dedicated to creating perfect golf swings with their students, I emphasize speed and scoring first. Accuracy later.
With Ryp Golf, we continue to focus on mechanics and drills that help players gain speed really quickly. If done correctly, accuracy shouldn’t suffer much, but hitting as many fairways as you go from 220 off the tee to 260 off the tee is unrealistic. This is why it’s so important to teach the skills of scoring too.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
My driving passion is to make golf more fun. Hitting bombs is fun. Reaching par 5’s in 2 is fun. Everyone loves the feeling of smashing drives. I want golfers to experience that more and stay healthy longer so they can do it over and over again.
What was the genesis for the Rypstick’s development?
Rypstick solved a very basic problem. The benefits of overspeed/overload training are well known. The problem required a better mousetrap. One stick instead of 3!
How does it differentiate itself from other similar products on the marketplace now?
We are the only patent pending product that is safe, versatile (5 sticks in 1), and all housed in the same unit.
Body movements in the golf swing have become a major focal point in maximizing potential for golfers. How are your efforts going beyond what’s been advocated by others in the teaching arena?
I completed my PhD in the area of attentional focus. I can tell golfers with a great degree of confidence that the over emphasis on body positions is leading to poorer outcomes than it should. Most golfers should use external cues for learning golf as a first option.
How much of a gain in overall clubhead speed do those using the product achieve when carried out properly?
The average gain is 5 mph in 2 months. People that are strong but slow can often gain much more. Not surprising to see some golfers with bad swings and a poor sequence gain 50 yards. I can almost always predict this gain from an initial assessment. High level competitive players that are not strong but have a great sequence tend to gain less. We’ve got tons of data to back up our “estimates”. We do a 3-minute assessment to create a unique “power profile” for each golfer.
For students looking to hook up with a teacher — what’s the best pathway you can suggest they follow?
Ask around. Don’t go cheap. Find someone that does it full time. Would you want the secretary telling you how to do your taxes or do surgery on you? Find a real pro with proven results. You time matters more than the $ you put into lessons. Good teachers shorten the learning curve.
What are the signs when the teacher / student relationship is working and not working?
If you’re not seeing results it may be time to search for a new teacher. That being said you should always point the mirror back and ask yourself are you doing your part. This means doing exactly as they recommend and practicing the way you committed. Most of the students that cycle through lots of teachers are “poor students”.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
The golf ball goes too far. This is about land usage, not the game itself. I don’t care one bit about how golf is played at the highest level and the debate about distance in the modern game.
People who care about this have their head in the sand. It’s a total non-issue. The big issue is space. Imagine the cost savings to the industry if courses were half as big. Golf would be much more affordable since property taxes drop dramatically. Plus, there’s the environmental effects of golf. I love this game, but let’s be honest we need less chemicals on the grass and less wasted water especially in places like AZ.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
My grandpa told me swing hard and play aggressively when I was young. You don’t learn the hero shot if you never practice it.
Biggest short- and long-term challenges facing your efforts with Rypstick is what?
Our short-term challenge is getting people to understand the value of 1 stick vs. 3. Our long-term challenge is redesigning how beginners are taught golf. Instead of focusing on control alone — as many teachers recommend — beginners should be taught to swing fast with a proper kinematic sequence. If a beginner doesn’t develop this ability, they will spend the rest of their life guiding the ball around without distance or control.