For years, Jake Toliver traveled west to visit family in Southern California. The surf and sun is what drew him there from his native Chicago suburbs. After a few visits, he was hooked and vowed to move there one day.
That day came a few years ago when he was offered the teaching professional position at Bel-Air Country Club. He spent a few seasons at this George C. Thomas design honing his craft before moving on to his current club, The Los Angeles Country Club. Golf Digest recently named Jake one of the top golf instructors in California as well as one of the best young teachers in the country.
We traveled to L.A. earlier this year and spent some time with Jake. We chatted about why he chose this career path, his teaching techniques, and his view on menswear. We hope you'll enjoy this Q&A with him.
Hometown/college and where do you live now?
Glen Ellyn, IL - Penn State - Los Angeles, CA
How long have you been a PGA professional? Why did you get involved in the game?
I've been a PGA Professional since I graduated from Penn State in 2012. I got involved in the game for several reasons, but it really boils down to the culture around it. It's a lifestyle for me.
Do you have a few core principles while teaching? Does it differ depending upon the student you're working with?
My teaching definitely changes from student to student. I'm big on coaching people in ways I feel they respond to best, so you have to get to know them.
What's the biggest myth about the golf swing that people believe? What's the biggest mistake amateurs are making that you see?
The biggest mistake amateurs make is definitely rolling the clubface open in the backswing. I honestly think some people believe the club works that way. I spend a lot of time getting people to shut their clubface and pretend it never rotates. Open or closed. Just turn your body and smash it.
What was your favorite round of golf? Describe the day.
Cypress Point. Perfect weather. Ocean breeze. Cocktails afterwards. Dinner at Spanish Bay.
Favorite shot shape and why?
A great guy once told me: "Draws bring you happiness, Fades bring you money." Since then, I've never been able to choose.
Sweater or Quarter-zip and why?
Crewneck sweater. It's a vibe.
Cold beer for sure. I don't always wait until "post-round".
What is your favorite H&B piece? Do you wear it off the course?
I think the Ward Sweater has special powers. It's sharp both on and off the course...I never want to take it off.
Describe your personal style.