VanDerLaan turns pro, with Golf Performance Center as sponsor

John VanDerLaan was 13 years old when he first came to the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield. Nine years later, the connection remains.

The Golf Performance Center has begun a sponsorship agreement with VanDerLaan, a 22-year-old Southbury native who recently played in his first PGA Tour event, the Barbasol Championship, at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, KY.

As part of the sponsorship, VanDerLaan will sport the Golf Performance Center logo on his golf bag and the sleeve of his shirt.

“John is an extraordinary athlete, and it has been an honor to coach him over the last 10 years,” said Roger Knick, the founder and CEO of the Golf Performance Center. “We felt it was an opportune time to initiate a sponsorship with someone who has gone through our program, and who we felt best exemplified the values we teach at our facility.”

VanDerLaan, who attended Pomperaug High School in Southbury, played college golf at Florida Southern, earning four All-American honors and winning the NCAA Division II individual championship this spring. He also this year’s Jack Nicklaus Award as the best player in Division II.

As one of five Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year winners across all levels of men’s college golf, VanDerLaan competed in the Barbasol Shootout at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. VanDerLaan became the first Division II golfer to finish first at the event, shooting a three-under par 67.

The victory gave VanDerLaan an exemption into last month’s Barbasol Championship, where he finished 14-under par and tied for 31st place, earning $21,700.

VanDerLaan continued his impressive play by winning the 84th Connecticut Open tournament last week at the New Haven Country Club. VanDerLaan finished the three-day event with a 16-under par total of 194, which included an eight-under 62 in the second round. The victory came in VanDerLaan's third start as a professional and added $12,500 to his earnings.

“The biggest thing for players at John’s level is the relationship between controlling the golf ball and scoring,” said Knick. “Function dictates form, so good functional movement is needed.”

In addition to swing mechanics, Knick has worked on physical training over the last nine years with VanDerLaan.

“Most people don’t realize the amount of stress that the golf swing puts on players,” said Knick. “It’s something that John and other players at that level have to be aware of and manage.”

As part of the sponsorship agreement, the Golf Performance Center helps defray costs for VanDerLaan’s travel to tournaments and entrance fees.

“John wanted to represent us and we wanted to help support him,” said Knick. “When he realized he wanted to turn professional it was a good fit for both of us.”