Geoge Gankas once proclaimed his pupil Matt Wolff a “huge disruptor,” that he was “going to change the world of golf.”
Wolff won quickly on the PGA Tour at age 19, held the 54-hole lead at the 2020 U.S. Open, rose to No. 13 in the world and seemed destined to make the predictions by Gankas a sure thing.
But Wolff has struggled in recent years, taking time away from the game to work on his mental health and last year joined LIV Golf. The Wolff saga took a turn for the worse when Brooks Koepka, his team captain, called him out publicly for not giving full effort.
The 52-year-old Gankas, who has taught Wolff since age 13 and thinks of him like a son, spoke publicly about his star pupil’s issues recently on the No Laying Up podcast.
“They could’ve done that privately,” Gankas said of the way Koepka aired his grievances with Wolff, his teammate. “There were some incidents where Wolff possibly wasn’t playing as hard as he could and he called him out on it and, you know what, in my opinion, as much as anybody doesn’t want to hear it – I don’t think it should have been done publicly – but I think it did Wolff good. I think it woke him up.”
Even Gankas isn’t sure what sent Wolff into tailspin.
“I don’t know if it was he didn’t like the actual attention or the fame or whatever it was, or he just didn’t want to play,” Gankas said. “He’s figuring it out right now. He’s a much better person than he was two years ago.”
He added: “I think there were just times that he didn’t want to play golf. I do. I don’t think the talent has ever been gone.”
Given that Gankas lives in California and Wolff is based in Florida, they haven’t seen each other as much. This may have been the most telling thing Gankas had to say: “Wolff’s a player that has enough money that if he doesn’t want to hear it from you, you’re not going to hear from him.”
Gankas noted that Wolff had flattened his swing on his own, and said about a month ago that they worked together for the first time in about seven months. Wolff finished T-3 at LIV Golf Invitational Greenbrier in August.
But Gankas still believes Wolff will do great things and pointed out he’s still “just a kid.”
“I know he’s going to be on top of the golf world again. He’s 24 years old. People think he’s 30. He’s still a kid. The fact is, the talent is there. I don’t think that he could ever lose his golf completely,” Gankas said. “He’s got a lot of good years ahead of him.”
There’s plenty more from Gankas that is worth your time too. You can watch the full podcast here.