The greens are fast today on the 18-hole course. The mature trees and tall pampas grass framing each fairway sway with every gust of wind. The water hazards are a delight for the wildlife that find their way to the golf course at the Granbury Country Club. Tucker Allen walks up to the ball on the third hole and mentally makes a straight line to the target in his mind: a 4.5-inch hole. Many aspects of the setup have to be perfect at impact, so the ball will sail the distance and direction Tucker envisions.
For nine years, Tucker has continued to prove he is committed to golf. “My Uncle Jerry asked me to play golf with him when I was 5. He challenged me to hit the ball at the same target three times in a row, and I did,” Tucker said. “What started as fun became something I wanted to dominate.”
Tucker is disciplined and practices every day. Jerry created a golf room at his house for Tucker, where he can practice driving and putting on the range mat toward a net. He also uses training aids such as a video app that can show, clip-by-clip, his stance, stroke, back swing and follow through. “He has potential. He learned the pro golfer’s stats and decided to be a pro golfer,” Jerry said. “I told him I would get him to even par, and then I’d get him some real help.”
What started as fun uncovered Tucker’s natural abilities with the 1.5-inch ball and his determination to be the best. This month, as Tucker celebrates his 14th birthday, the whole family remains devoted to helping him achieve his potential. Diane and Bob, Tucker’s parents, support him and attend every tournament they can. Tucker’s grandmother picks him up from school every day and takes him to Harbor Lakes Country Club or Squaw Valley Golf Course in Glen Rose to practice.
Tucker attends Lakeside Baptist Academy, a homeschooling co-op that only meets Tuesday through Thursday. This schedule provides the opportunity for Tucker to excel in his athletic talent. When Tucker was 6, the decision was made to enlist the help of professional golf instructor Hank Haney. He is best known for coaching Tiger Woods. He was a tremendous help in Tucker’s early years. He focused on the upper body and developed Tucker’s back swing.
Presently, Tucker is coached by Cameron McCormick who moved to the states in 2000 from Australia. His emphasis is on biometrics and motor learning. He formerly coached Jordan Spieth, who won the 2015 Masters Golf Tournament. “Cameron was direct with a no-nonsense type of approach that fit Tucker’s personality,” Jerry said. “Tucker likes to have fun, but when it comes to golf, he treats it like serious business.”
To give Tucker every opportunity to achieve his dreams, Jerry dedicates a tremendous number of hours each week to help Tucker do his best. On Friday, Jerry takes Tucker to AMPD Golf Fitness in Dallas where Tucker works on more than his swing. “My workouts consist of drills that develop upper and lower body,” Tucker said. “I practice on bands for agility and balance, but I also have a mental coach.”
Tucker works with Dr. Robert Neff, who educates elite athletes regarding sports psychology and provides mind-strengthening drills to improve mental toughness, thus enhancing performance. Dr. Neff helps athletes become exceptional. He helps Tucker visualize his movements and control his adrenaline before his swings. The mental game is important. If the mind is in chaos, the game will be, too.
Tucker practices the proper setup before hitting the ball on a daily basis. He mentally imagines where he wants the ball to land. He bends his knees for the proper stance at the correct distance from the ball. He aligns the club parallel with the ground. His takeaway, follow through and back swing are smooth and precise. Tucker practices many phases of the swing individually. When these are combined, the shot is a success. Since Tucker practices so much, his body is out of line. “Tucker sees a chiropractor, because his body develops more on the right in the direction he swings,” Jerry said.
Treatment consists of individualized training and rehabilitation exercises targeting areas of concern to keep Tucker from getting out of alignment. The dedication Tucker shows and the tireless effort he puts into his talent has paid off. When Tucker was 10, he finished fifth in the European Junior Championship in Scotland. At 12, he finished third in the Jr. World Championships at Pinehurst, No. 2 in North Carolina and also won the Future Masters in Alabama.
Tucker has over 60 tournament wins and received Player of the Year three years in a row. “I remember when we were in Scotland, we could not find rain gear. You would think it would be easy to find it,” Jerry laughed. “We wore the green camo ponchos we brought and an orange UT umbrella. They knew we were from Texas.” Tucker’s long-term goals consist of getting enough experience and wins to become a pro golfer. “I want to keep hitting and improving. I want to play on as many different courses as I can,” Tucker shared. “I want to be No. 1 in the world. My goal is to have 20 major golf wins, which is six more than Tiger Woods and two more than Jack Nicklaus.”
Tucker already thinks like a champ and sets lofty goals that are not out of reach. Scouts from universities are already following Tucker’s achievements. They are seeking his talents and vie for his acceptance into their golf programs. “He has already received letters for The University of Texas, Arizona State University and Auburn University,” Jerry said. “I want Tucker to play and take it as far as he can take it. His family and I surround him with the very best people, so he can take the path the best players have taken.”
Tucker secured Nike as a sponsor for two years. They provided custom-built clubs specifically made for Tucker’s height, arm length, hand size and swing speed. Presently, Tucker is sponsored by Titleist, a brand of golf equipment and clothes dating from 1932. When Tucker is not on the golf course, he enjoys hunting, pool or picking a guitar. “Tucker is 99-percent golf,” Jerry said. “I try to make him take some time off, however.”
Tucker is blazing a path toward what he wants to accomplish. He focuses on where he wants to be with a dead aim and lofty goals. He tirelessly trains and lets the results speak for themselves.
Written by Erin McEndree