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Monday, September 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  National sports

North Idaho native Travis Fulton carves out cool career in golf industry

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 9, 2019, 7:44 p.m.

A few years ago, I went deep into The Spokesman-Review archives because the name of a dude on Golf Channel was stuck in the back of my mind.

My so-so memory usually feels like its hanging out on the back nine, but watching Travis Fulton demonstrate a drill prompted a double-take.

Sure enough, on May 19, 1995, I covered the Idaho State Class B Tournament at StoneRidge and watched Lakeland High’s Corey Rippee win the individual title in a playoff. Fulton, a senior at Kellogg, shot 76 to finish third.

Fulton’s affiliation with golf didn’t end after that state tournament. It was just beginning.

Let’s play some catch-up. Fulton went on to play at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, followed by his first job – running the shop at Gateway Golf Center in Clarkston. Next, he was off to Scottsdale to focus on instruction. After a short stint in New York, Fulton relocated to Ponte Vedra, Florida, where his teaching career took off when the first PGA Tour Academy opened in 2001.

Fulton rose to the title of director of instruction for eight PGA Tour academies.

“I had a really nice run with them for the better part of 10, 12 years,” Fulton said. “But at the same time I was trying to get a foot in the door on the TV side and I got an audition with Golf Channel’s On The Range in 2014.”

Fulton landed the job and made regular appearances on the show and eventually on Morning Drive. Consider that Fulton’s big break, the name of the popular show that aired on the Golf Channel.

“It was something I’ve always wanted to do,” Fulton said.

A few years ago Golf Channel acquired a new instruction company, Revolution Golf, so Fulton has returned to teaching. He also has a strong presence on social media.

Fulton, named one of Golf Digest’s top 40 instructors under 40 in 2016, currently teaches at three courses: Victoria National in Indiana, Jacksonville (Fla.) Golf and Country Club and at nearby Pablo Creek Golf Club. He does some voice-over work for the PGA Tour and a “fair amount” with Golf Digest.

“I’m on Instagram with a lot of partners and content creation has really become a strong business for me,” Fulton said.

Fulton instructs clients in person, through online video lessons and via social media. The latter is where he launched “Show Us Your Swing”, a segment that features Fulton providing a break down after seeing video of someone’s swing. It has grown to include a number of current/former athletes and celebrities in addition to amateurs.

Fulton has dissected the swings of Minnesota receiver Adam Thielen, former NFL running back Reggie Bush, former NFL punter Pat McAfee, hip-hop artists and the sports entertainment group Dude Perfect, whose youtube.com channel has 45 million subscribers.

“You don’t realize how many people play and love the game. Social media has been good for golf in that regard,” Fulton said. “Reggie Bush was fun. He took instruction and got back to me, asked questions and reposted where he was six weeks later. People couldn’t believe how much he improved.”

Fulton was hooked on teaching early in his career.

“I was a decent player, I wasn’t a great player,” said Fulton, who returned to the region this week, combining work, golf, time with his parents at the house he grew up in in Pinehurst and attending the Seattle Seahawks’ game Sunday. “I started to find out how fascinating the golf swing and short game is. I got in with the right people that helped me learn things that you need to be successful in the business.”

Fulton has worked with Fred Funk, who now plays on the Champions Tour, but never had the desire to work with 2-3 pros and travel each week to tour events. He says no swing is perfect but Rory McIlroy is probably his personal favorite “when you look at managing power and accuracy.” Fulton also mentioned Adam Scott, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods “has mended it back together and he’s in a really good spot.”

Fulton plans to continue teaching and growing his social media game, including a possible return to his Inland Northwest roots.

“I actually would like to get in a situation where I could teach (in Spokane, North Idaho) in the summertime,” he said. “I’m working on a couple scenarios where I’d come up for the better part of a month.”

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