Thomas T Wartelle ™
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Daily World Newspaper
Photo by Freddie Herpin

Thomas T. Wartelle, recently named one of the world's top 60 golf teachers, pauses Friday at Indian Hills Country Club in Opelousas.
Article published Apr 2, 2006
Golfer earns global acclaim
Opelousas' Thomas T. Wartelle named Top 60 instructor
Thomas T. Wartelle was 14 the first time he ever picked up his brother's old golf club kept together by duct tape and convinced himself to take up the game of golf.

Over the next few years, Wartelle became a club rat, whether it was caddying for club members at Indian Hills in Opelousas or shagging balls on the driving range, and that whole time he did one thing - practice.

A lot.

"I hit about 500 balls a day from when I was 15 to 28 years old," said the Grand Prairie native and Washington resident. "But it's taken me 20 years to learn to play this game mentally."

The practice has more than paid off. Wartelle was recently named as one of the top 60 golf teachers in the world by Golf Teaching Pro Magazine, the first such worldwide ranking of golf teachers performed.

The fact that it's a "world" ranking, however, shouldn't come as a surprise. While today you can find Wartelle offering lessons and tips in Opelousas, most of the time, you'd have to travel to France ... or Holland ... or Brazil ... or Taiwan ... to find Wartelle either playing in tournaments or teaching pros looking to make it big.

"Since about 1994, I've probably lived in Europe more than I've lived in the states.

"I'm kind of a celebrity in parts of Europe," Wartelle said with a modest grin. "Here, I'm just Thomas the caddy."

It's a title Wartelle seems not to mind. He admits he wasn't the best golfer in his teens, when most pros are starting to make a name for themselves.

"My first try in school I shot a 70 in nine holes and didn't make the team," he said. "Thirteen months later, though, I became a scratch golfer. I had an awful swing, but I was a scratch golfer."

Wartelle went to LSU for a year but transferred to USL (now the University of Louisiana) and played alongside the PGA's Mike Heinen and Craig Perks.

"I was more of a scrub on that team," he said. "I was like our fifth or sixth player."

But persistence paid off, as well as the ability to take advice. Wartelle credits 1957 PGA champ Lionel Hebert with giving him a lot of good mental tips and local amateur Chad Williams for showing him ways to improve his game.

By 1993, Wartelle turned pro himself ... sleeping in his truck at times while playing mini-tournaments in Florida. In 1994, he played in Europe, an experience he calls his "turning point."

"That's where I really learned to play," he said.

And learn to teach. Wartelle thinks he's been named one of the world's best because he enjoys what he does, and he knows that it takes a lot of work to get it right.

"I never paid for a lesson in my life," he said with a laugh. "Maybe I shouldn't tell anybody that though. I don't want them thinking they can learn without me."

Joey Monica of Opelousas is appreciative of Wartelle's guidance. Because his business involves some golf with clients, Monica took up the game just in February and is already impressing his instructor.

"He's already driving it well," Wartelle said. "First time I saw him do it, I couldn't believe it."

This past Friday, Wartelle showed Monica basic putting tips ... leaning over the ball, keeping your club head straight ... and whatever he told him worked. Monica sank four straight puts after a tweak in his stance.

As for his own playing, Wartelle said he still hopes to join the tour. At 35, he definitely has the contacts and the sponsors.  Aldila shafts, Sonartec clubs, TrionZ magnetic wrist bracelets and the World Golf Teachers Federation are just a few brand names he promotes and endorses.  Now, he said, he just needs the luck.

"To be a Tour player, you need three things -to be good, to be rich or sponsored and to be lucky," he said. "If you're not sponsored, it can cost you up to $50,000 to $100,000 just to play in tournaments."

Besides several top finishes in worldwide tournaments, Wartelle said his biggest golf thrill so far has been playing 18 at St. Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf.

"I was more nervous teeing off there than at the U.S. Open," he said. "There was just so much history to it."

But his greatest thrill was the recent birth of his son.

"By far, the greatest thrill," he said. "My wife, my baby, my parents - none of this happens without their support."

And none of it would have even began had it not been for that old broken club.



Fall 2005
Golf Magazine France
Translated interview

  In View!

The InterviewThomas T Wartelle, Sonartec International

Coming to take the Hexagon (France)…

Still not very known to French golfers, the clubs from Sonartec are already known for five years in the U.S. market.  Today, the international brand has arrived in France with quality products and the ambition to compete with the well-known brands in the golf industry.

Golf Magazine: Can you tell us about the rise of the Sonartec brand?

Thomas Wartelle:  This year, Sonartec celebrates its five-year anniversary originating from America and Japan.  Its origin and owners are Japanese (Toru Kamatari), South African and American.  Sonartec is rapidly growing and expanding into the European market and will soon be well known by French golfers.

G.M.: What type of players are your clubs catered to?

T.W.: They are for all types of players.  Our clubs have classical shaped designs with soft lines that are appreciated by most golfers.

G.M.:  Where is the brand compared to other marks in the United States?

T.W.:  We are consistently ranked number 1 or 2 in usage on the US PGA Tour and Asian Tours.  Our fairways woods (SS series) are consistently number 3 in tour usage.

G.M.:  What makes your products different from others?

T.W.:  Unlike most other clubs, Sonartec clubs feature the “Driving Cavity” which places the center of gravity higher on the face, just behind the ball and deeper in the head.  By doing this, we can obtain optimal trajectory producing longer piercing shots similar to an arrow when shot.

With our clubs, we choose only high quality shafts and extensively test to find out which shafts work best with each series of clubheads.  Because we offer only quality shafts, the amateur can play the same shaft as the Tour professional, just in a more appropriate flex.

G.M.:  Sonartec does not pay any pros to play their clubs?

T.W.:  Currently it is not our policy or goal.  We prefer that the pros choose Sonartec because of performance.  This has been effective so far.  Maybe in the future we will sign some players.

G.M.:  How do you explain that the brand is a success in the American market but not yet known in France?

T.W.:  Without a doubt the American market is huge with millions of golfers and is where Sonartec got its start.  The European market is a bit behind in some of the American market trends.

G.M.:  Who distributes the brand in France?

T.W.:  Our distributor in France is Golf Perfection.  They started last April and currently have retailers across France.

G.M.:  How do you plan to promote Sonartec in Europe?

T.W.:  We plan on presenting Sonartec products at the major golf shows in Europe like (Cannes, Munich, or Paris) and increasing our Tour support…  Also, we will be organizing demo days, which have proven to be a successful for our products.

G.M.:  What is your objective?

T.W.:  We want to convince French golfers to try Sonartec clubs.  Our products sell themselves because of their quality and performance.  This is evident when a golfer first tries a Sonartec.  We continue to develop innovative products designed for all golfers and this is just the beginning of the Sonartec saga.

World Golf Teachers Cup
Itu, Sao Paulo, Brazil

4 March  2005

March 4, 2005 Itu, Sao Paulo, Brazil

The winner of the Individual World Golf Teachers Cup was Raul Fretes of Paraguay. Fretes is a former PGA and European Tour player. Pedro Yanez of Chile finished second followed by defending champion Mark Harman of the USA.

The World Golf Teacher's Cup, with participants from 22 countries and every continent, was a significant boost for golf in South America, with coverage by ESPN-Brazil and Golf Digest-Brazil. With the largest purse in WGTF history, the seventh playing of the World Cup will likely be seen as one of the turning points in the event's history.

"The state of golf in Brazil is strong and rapidly growing. The World Golf Teachers Cup received great support and hospitality from the people of Brazil. This certainly will boost golf in South America as many of the top South American players participated this week such as Priscillo Diniz (European Senior Tour), Raul Fretes (European Tour), Sebastian Franco and Franco family. Muto obrigato (thanks), Brazil", stated Thomas T Wartelle, Director of the WGTF and co-organizer of the tournament.

Thomas Wartelle, Director of the World Golf Teacher's Federation,
and Peter Hudson, President of the UK Golf Teachers Federation.

Team Results:
1. Paraguay
2. Brazil
3. Argentina
4. Caribbean
5. South America
6. USA
7. Korea
8. Canada
9. Great Britain
10. Asia
11. Europe
12. Netherlands
Open Division Individual Top-Ten Scores:
1. Raul Fretes, Paraguay (Champion)
2. Pedro Yanez, Chile
Mark Harman, USA
Priscillo Diniz, Brazil
3. Ruberlei Felizardo, Brazil
Pedro Martinez, Paraguay
4. David Belling, Canada
Sebastian Franco, Paraguay
5. Virlei da Silva, Brazil
Romildo Silva, Brazil
6. Hector Ortega, Paraguay
7. Luiz Menezes, Brazil
Antonio Araujo, Brazil
8. Marcelo Goncalves, Brazil
Sylvain Laplante, Canada
9. Robson Cardoso, Brazil
George Soares, Brazil
10. Thomas T Wartelle, USA / France
Luiz Martins, Brazil



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