Former Tiger Woods instructor dies at 96


One of the early sculptors of Tiger Woods’ golf game has passed away.

Per Golf Digest, John Anselmo has died at the age of 96. Anselmo was Woods’ second golf instructor (after Rudy Duran), starting his work with the prodigy when Woods was 10 and continuing to do so for the next seven years.

Even though Anselmo earned some form of public recognition for his early work with Woods, the long-time instructor’s son Dan remembered him as a kind spirit to all he worked with.

“He was just an encouraging person whoever he was with,” Dan Anselmo told Golf Digest. “He worked with arguably one of greatest players ever, but for me as a teacher what I appreciate most about him was his enthusiasm to help anybody, even the little old lady who could barely swing a club. That’s who he was.”

As Golf Digest notes, Woods’ later father, Earl, was looking for an instructor in 1986 to succeed Doran when PGA of America professional Ray Oakes recommended Anselmo – who had played on the PGA Tour in the 1940s and 50s but would become an instructor. Anselmo was the head teaching coach at Los Altimos Golf Course in Cypress, Calif., by the time of the recommendation.

Anselmo met with the 10-year-old Woods and was mesmerized.

“I have this new kid named Tiger Woods,” Anselmo told Dan, according to Golf Digest. “He’s a Tour player in a little boy’s body.”

The pair would work together for the next seven years – moving over to Meadowlark Golf Club in Huntington Beach, Calif., starting in 1987. Anselmo would be diagnosed with colon cancer in 1993 and had to shelve teaching for several months. Woods moved on to Butch Harmon at that time.

But there was never any ill-will from Anselmo regarding the split.

“I think my father felt that he had given Tiger everything he had,” Dan told Golf Digest. “He did not have any ill feelings turning him over to Butch. It was really a good fit. And Butch always was extremely complimentary with the work my dad had done with Tiger.”

Woods and Anselmo last chatted in person in China in 2011 – the instructor there on a visit to a family academy and Woods in the area for a Nike promotion.

In the end, Woods wouldn’t be Anselmo’s only high-profile junior student.

As you can see in this video, Anselmo also taught junior stars Billy Olsen, Jim Liu and Kim Saiki (a future LPGA winner).

A man who shaped golf more than most realize is now gone. Anselmo may not be the only architect of Woods’ game, but he was indeed one of them.

For that and all of his other instruction, Anselmo will be remembered as a greater contributor to the game of golf.

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