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A native of St. Louis, MO, John played collegiately at the University of Alabama (1994-’99), where he was a four-year letterman and captain of the 1998 squad. After a short professional playing career on the mini-tours, in which he won a Pepsi Tour event, John turned his attention to teaching. In 2000 he joined Resort Golf Schools as a master instructor, and later became Director of Golf Schools at Legend Trail Golf Club in Scottsdale.

John has been with TOURAcademy TPC Scottsdale since 2007, and as Senior Head Instructor oversees all operations at the Academy, including golf schools, corporate golf events, and junior programs. His current and past students include LPGA Tour golfers Paige Mackenzie and Marcy Hart, CN Canadian Women’s Tour winner Samantha Richdale, sports radio talk show host Dan Patrick, NFL players London Fletcher and Leon Hall, and five-time Arizona State Amateur Champion Ken Kellaney.  John is a regular contributor to Golf Tips magazine, the Arizona Golfer, and, and is also featured on the TOUR Academy mobile app and TOURAcademy Home Edition DVD collection.


Q: What’s sweeter: Breaking par (72) or beating Auburn in football?
A: Beating Auburn in football, of course.

Q: What’s your fondest memory as a player?
A: Qualifying for the U.S. Amateur in 1996 and nearly making it to Match Play [John missed by two shots]. My father caddied for me, too, which was kind of fun.

Q: You also competed against Tiger Woods in a junior event?
A: It’s known today as the Big “I” Junior Classic. I had made a hole in one in the second round to make the cut but I didn’t have a good third round. In the final round I teed off first on the 10th hole at Pinehurst No. 7 and I was just making the turn when Tiger was teeing off on the first hole. So I got to play nine holes behind Tiger. We all knew who he was. I mean he won nearly every junior tournament.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you broke par (72)?
A: I was 12, and it was at my home course in St. Louis, Old Warson Country Club. I was playing in the group behind Hale Irwin, who was a member, too, and I beat him that day. I shot 69 and he shot something like 70. We talked about it afterwards. He congratulated me on a good score.

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest teaching achievement?
A: It happened just a few weeks ago. One of my students, Samantha Richdale, got her first win with me helping her. It was on the CN Canadian Women’s Tour. She shot 65 on the first day, with eight birdies!

Q: What’s the best tip or piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A: It’s a quote I read from Hank Haney. It says, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” What it means is that your students are only going to buy into what you’re trying to teach them when they know that you’re in it for their best interest. You show a genuine interest in seeing them improve.

Q: What question do you get asked most by your students?
A: How do I become more consistent?

Q: And your answer?
A: I would say you need a game plan for improvement, and you have to work toward that game plan. It’s a process that takes time and there are going to be ups and downs, but at the end of the day you have to stay the course. You can’t change your game plan because you had a bad hole or bad round. You have to stick with it.

Q: What made you get into teaching?
A: Growing up and playing golf, I know how frustrating the game can be and how it can give and take away. The reason I got into instruction is to help people reach their true potential, whether that’s to win a professional event or break 100 for the first time. I just really enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with watching people succeed in the game of golf.



ABOUT NEIL: A native of Toronto, Canada, Gunn has been with TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass since 2003. Prior to joining the TOURAcademy, he was Lead Golf Instructor for the PGA of America’s Golf Academy in Port St. Lucie, Fla. During that time Gunn worked with many of the game’s top teachers, including former Director of Instruction for the PGA, Rick Martino, and Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers Eric Johnson and Scott Sackett. Gunn also spent several summers teaching in Lake Tahoe at Incline Village, where he had his own Academy.

Gunn attended Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where he played soccer, not golf, under a partial scholarship. Gunn started playing golf at the age of 6 and continues to play in a few PGA sectional events in Florida, where he earned a victory in a PGA South Florida Section Southeast Chapter event. His lowest competitive round is a 66, shot at The King & Bear Golf Course at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. Gunn has been a PGA Member since 2000.


Q: Did Slippery Rock not have a golf team?
A: No, they had a very good golf team. I grew up in Canada where hockey is king. I just loved playing hockey. I played it until about 8 years ago.

Q: Have you taught any NHL players?
A: I’ve actually given lessons to a few NBA players—Michael Finley, Nazr Mohammed, Jacque Vaughn (now the head coach of the Orlando Magic). I taught them for three days in a row.

Q: How difficult is it to teach golf to someone who’s 6-foot-10, like Mohammed?
A: He had a big grip, because his fingers were so long they’d wrap around the club. And his 7-iron was like 42 inches long. So getting his swing flat enough to hit the ball, that was a challenge.

Q: What’s the most frequently asked question you get from students?
A: Obviously how to be more consistent. That’s what everybody wants to do.

Q: And your answer?
A: Everybody has that hit impulse; they just want to hit the ball instead of swinging to their target and letting the ball get in the way. It’s called a golf swing for a reason. Everyone wants more distance. But what you really need to focus on is your contact and staying in balance, and then your distance will come.

Q: What’s the best tip you ever received?
A: Someone once told me to feel like you’re hitting the ball with your right pocket. It encourages the hips to get around and lead through the golf swing. It helps clear the hips so the clubhead can be delivered toward the target.

Q: Your most memorable moment as a player?
A: My first hole in one. I played with Mr. Kiplinger from Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, and the ball took one bounce and disappeared. It was in Port St. Lucie on the 6th hole of the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club.

Q: Most memorable moment as a teacher?
A: I’ve had students who couldn’t  get the ball in the air, and suddenly they’d be ecstatic because it went 40 yards. That made them want to keep playing. Just students having success and being thankful and calling back and saying you really helped me. 

Q: What do you remember about the first time you broke par?
A: I think I was about 16, and I was playing with my Dad and brother. I remember having to grind it on the last hole and make par to shoot 1 under. I had an 8-footer and I knew I had to make it, and I did. Best pressure putt I’ve ever made, because I’ve missed a lot since.