1983 is the year Stan decided that he would pursue professional golf. He received his first set of PING golf clubs and with them won a college trophy at the University of Missouri. He also made it to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Amateur tournament, and finished 2nd Team All-American. This was a big year in his personal life as well: he met his future wife, Elayna.
Stan’s success throughout 1983 earned him the title of Missouri Amateur Golfer of the Year and launched him into professional golf in 1984.
Stan achieved a lifelong goal with his PGA TOUR win at the Chattanooga Classic. Arriving at the tournament as an unknown with a sponsor’s exemption, he found himself with a chance to win that fateful Sunday, with two holes to go. After sinking a 12-foot putt to make birdie on the 18th hole, he was officially a TOUR champion with an impressive final score of 17 under par.
This win secured Stan’s PGA TOUR card and a place in golf history. In addition to Chattanooga, Stan also won the Missouri Open for the second year in a row.
Stan considers 1993 the best overall year of his playing career. He played five PGA TOUR events, making the cut in three and finishing in the top 10 in one. He played 22 Nike Tour (now Web.com Tour) events, winning the Cleveland Open, taking 2nd place in three other events and 3rd place in another seven.
Stan would continue to find success on the Web.com Tour, winning both the Nike Louisiana Open and the Nike Miami Valley Open in 1995.
The next phase in Stan’s career began with a chance meeting with Jay Haas. Stan was playing in a Web.com Tour event in North Carolina and staying at the home of former PGA TOUR pro Dillard Pruitt. Haas, who lived nearby, visited the Pruitt home where he and Stan began discussing putting. This encounter was the catalyst that propelled Haas back into TOUR contention and launched Stan’s new role as a renowned short-game instructor.
Over the next few years Stan would coach several top 50 players, including Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson.
Stan began coaching Sergio Garcia, who wanted to improve his failing putting stroke and renew confidence in his game. Thanks to Stan’s expert guidance, and after just ten weeks of instruction, Garcia won the Players Championship in a sudden death playoff (his first victory in three years) and finished the season ranked No. 2 in the world.
Stan’s secret recipe for Garcia’s success? The “swinging gate” method of putting, which focuses on creating an open-and-close putting stroke similar to a full swing rather than keeping the putter square to the ball.