Mulligan’s Wheel: Surfer, Teacher, CEO Jaime Mulligan Gets His Due
Jamie Mulligan is not a guru, at least not in the way it’s traditionally understood by those for whom swing-plane minutiae, launch angles and ball speed are gospel. He understands all that, but guru is too confining.
Mulligan is not unlike a modern golf ball; there are multiple layers to him. He surfs most mornings near his home in Newport Beach, waves permitting. He is a PGA of America professional
as well as a teaching pro. He’s also the chief executive officer of one of the most venerable clubs in Southern California, Virginia CC in Long Beach.
CEOs tend to work in relative obscurity, as do most PGA and teaching pros. Insiders were aware of Mulligan given his work with longtime clients and friends John Cook and Paul Goydos. Yet a wider audience generally eluded him, notwithstanding a host of other successful players, including John Merrick, John Mallinger, Luke List, Mo Martin and “four or five young kids, members’ children all playing at Long Beach State.”
Then along came Patrick Cantlay.
Mulligan, finally, is getting the recognition due him as an instructor. He’s worked with Cantlay, who has become a top-10 player in the world, for 20 years. “A major player,” Mulligan said. “This one is special.”
Mulligan even has begun to receive television air time, as he did with Cantlay at the Zozo Championship at Sherwood CC and again after Cantlay shot a final-round 61 on the Stadium Course at PGA West in the American Express.
So Mulligan’s phone is ringing. “More calls than ever,” he said recently, though this teacher is content with the size of his small classroom, which also includes the PGA Tour’s Luke List.
“When I took the CEO job at Virginia 20 years ago, it became advantageous not being able to coach everybody, and not wanting to. I just wanted a few people in my stable in order to focus on the quality of what we were doing.”
His teaching philosophy predominantly starts with what he calls the “wheel,” with spokes that are different for every player. These might include mechanics, preparation, travel, family and fitness. A loose or broken spoke or two and the ride could become an uncomfortable one.
As for Cantlay? “He’s living the wheel,” Mulligan said. “I never needed to write down the wheel for him. What he does physically, to take care of his body, his training, the way he travels, his preparation, it’s unparalleled. When he tees it up, he’s ready to go every single time.”
Mulligan, incidentally, has his own wheel. “You’ve got to preach what you teach and teach what you preach, right?” he said. His wheel includes his work at Virginia CC, host of the prestigious SCGA Amateur Championship this summer. “Our wheel always includes relaxation, surfing in the mornings, and our guys playing great. And the club is in a better situation than it’s ever been.”
Leading by example, Mulligan’s wheel is working optimally and, these days, more noticeably.