Photo: Ryan Rody works with Drive, Chip and Putt finalist Evyn Cannon of Edmond.
By Ken MacLeod
Ryan Rody needs to be careful when tweeting congratulations to one of his star pupils. They may have been competing against each other.
That’s what happens when you are the instructor to collegiate stars such as Oklahoma’s Quade Cummins and Oklahoma State’s Austin Eckroat, right down through a host of other collegiate and high school champions and even 9-year-old junior sensation Evyn Cannon of Edmond.
Beginning in mid April, Rody’s stable of pupils will have to venture a bit north for personal instruction. The former director of golf and instruction at Gaillardia Golf Club in Oklahoma City will be the new director of instruction at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa as it opens its new indoor teaching center this spring.
Rody said his last day at Gaillardia is April 5 and he begins work at Southern Hills April 15. He has already been introduced to the membership and Southern Hills Director of Golf Cary Cozby said he fit in immediately.
“One of the things that was so attractive about him was the ability to teach all types and skill levels of players,” Cozby said. “He’s taught the every day player right up to Will Kropp on the Web.com Tour.”
Rody was a competitive junior player in the PGA South Central Section while living in Edmond until the age of 12 and later Wichita. He attended and played for Southwestern College in Winfield then worked for Madison Club in LaQuinta, Calif., and Spanish Oaks in Austin, Texas, before settling in at age 25 for a five-year run as an assistant teaching professional at Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas.
At Brook Hollow, he worked alongside Cameron McCormick, instructor to Jordan Spieth and other top players. It was an excellent training ground for Rody, who years earlier when taking lessons from Josh Cook at Wichita Country Club had decided that being a teaching pro was a pretty cool way to make a living.
“Cameron taught me a lot,” Rody said. “We were real close, played in a lot of tournaments together and he would watch me teach and give me feedback and also let me watch him teach. It was a great learning situation.”
Rody was hired at Gaillardia in 2014 where he works with members from former OU quarterback Sam Bradford, a scratch player, to double digit handicappers. He began working with Eckroat when he was a junior at Edmond North in 2015 and his reputation has only spread. Brock Polhill, now at Wichita State, and Dustin Hasley, now at Oral Roberts, are students, as well as Jaxon Dowell, one of the state’s top juniors. He has had four players win state championships in the past two years.
Cummins, who was recruited by OU as a raw player with potential, has worked himself into being one of the top collegians and amateurs in the country.
“He is so driven,” Rody said. “The most driven player I’ve ever seen. No one wants it more than Quade. He’ll text me pictures of his swing late at night and he’s still working trying to get it right.”
Rody said one of the things he learned from both Cook and McCormick is to treat each student as an individual with their own mental and physical hurdles to overcome.
“Everyone has different areas where they are really good and different areas where they can get better,” he said. “It’s just a mater of sitting down and figuring out a plan for the specific individual. “
Southern Hills is currently closed as a massive restoration under the guidance of architect Gil Hanse is completed. That included building for the first time an indoor teaching facility which will be located at the lower end of the driving range next to a new short game area which includes greens that replicate certain greens on the championship course. The indoor facility will have four bays, one of which is set up with a simulator, one for Rody’s personal teaching, one for members and one for assistants.
Cozby said the range will not open until the course does at an unspecified time this summer. Until then, Rody and the other instructors will be helping outfit the teaching center with modern teaching technology and getting ready to hit the ground running.
Ryan Rody, Notable Students
Oklahoma State High School Golf Champions:
Austin Eckroat (Edmond North 2014, 2017)
Jaxon Dowell (Oklahoma Christian 2018)
Brock Polhill (Edmond North, 2018)
Dustin Hasley (Piedmont, 2016)
Division 1 Players:
Quade Cummins – OU
Austin Eckroat – OSU
Garrett Reband – OU
Brock Polhill – Wichita State
Jared Strathe – Kansas State
Dustin Hasley – Oral Roberts
Connor Wilson – Arkansas State
Blake Blaser – Louisiana Tech
Shayne Patel – Drake
Carson Tewell, Stetson
Jaxon Dowell – OU Commit
William McDonald – signed with Arkansas
Young Junior Players
Emerson Majma 10 – finished top 5 US Kids World Champ; recently won the US Kids Regional in Arizona; 10 years old
Evyn Cannon – Drive Chip and Putt Finalist at Augusta; finished 2nd and 6th at US Kids World Champs last two years
Chase Hughes – 2019 Drive Chip and Putt Finalist; 3rd at US Kids worlds 2018