By Paul Myers
When you have one of the most famous last names in golf, there is no flying under the radar when you make it to the PGA Tour. From the moment Kevin Stadler arrived on the scene, he was bound to draw attention thanks to his last name alone. The fact that he swings the club, and looks, much like his dad Craig, only went to further the comparisons. While Craig was a highly successful player in his own right, Kevin would still need to forge his own way and earn his stripes on the Tour.
Unlike his dad, who won 13 times on the PGA Tour, including a Masters title, it would take Kevin a full 12 years as a professional before notching his first win at the highest level of the game, why the expectations started early for Kevin Stadler. That came during the 2014 Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, Arizona. Prior to that, Stadler had come close to winning when he lost in a playoff to Ryan Moore at the 2009 Wyndham Championship.
A Collection of Clubs
The bag of Kevin Stadler during the 2014 season looked more like a bag of clubs that you would see on the driving range of your average local course on a Saturday morning. Instead of having one single brand name throughout the bag, Stadler has a variety of club makers represented through his set. He was using a driver from TaylorMade, a Callaway three wood, Ping hybrid, Cleveland irons and wedges, and an Odyssey putter. You would have to look long and hard around the rest of the Tour to find another player with so many different manufacturers represented in a single bag.
What lessons can the average amateur player take from the bag of clubs that Stadler has assembled? Well, you should play with what works for you, no matter what name is printed on the back of the club head. Too many players get caught up in playing clubs that they think look good or will give them some kind of status. The only status in golf is getting the ball into the hole as quickly as possible. Obviously Stadler has avoided a traditional club contract in favor of using the gear that he is most comfortable with and gives him the best results. Judging by his recent win in one of the Tour’s most popular events, it seems to be working.
Enough Power to Compete
Much like his dad, Kevin Stadler isn’t exactly what most people would consider the model of physical fitness. Certainly, in this day and age of modern golf with so many well-conditioned athletes taking to the fairways, Stadler stands out for being different than most. However, he can still move the ball out there is the rest of the players on Tour and doesn’t need to apologize for anything related to his power off the tee.
Early in the 2015 season, Stadler has been dealing with a wrist injury and hasn’t been able to play much golf. Looking back at 2014 statistics, Kevin Stadler’s swing speed checked in at 113.67 MPH, which ranked him right in the middle of the pack at 83rd on Tour. That swing speed led to an average driving distance of 291.6 yards, again near the middle of the pack at a 76 rank. Those numbers combined though make him the 24th best overall driver of the golf ball on Tour during 2014.
Hopefully Stadler will be able to get over his wrist injury and be back playing on the Tour in the near future. One thing to watch out for in the coming months and years in the impending rules change which will ban anchored putters on the PGA Tour. Stadler has used a long putter throughout his career and will be forced to modify that style to comply with the new rules. Early rumors are that he intends to switch to putting left handed when that new rule goes into effect. Regardless of how he ends up dealing with the change, it will be one of the interesting stories to follow. If he is able to find a way to putt the ball well enough to compliment his solid ball striking, there could be more wins to come down the line for Kevin Stadler.