Golf is Hard is expanding… ever since I wondered out loud about what this blog was good for, I have been wondering if GIH could be something bigger, better or hell, even more useful.
For now though, I want to introduce you to a friend, co-conspirator and former PGA pro Dave Vitols. He’ll be helping me realize the true potential of this blog (lots of people reading and joining us in our love of golf). We both have a passion for the game and a rapidly expanding vision that we can both entertain and help people become better golfers.
So even though it stings to no longer be the best golfer on GIH, I am thrilled to have Dave to help provide some actual insights and help for us “average” golfers.
Look for Dave’s posts (coming soon)!
For now, Dave, this is everyone… everyone, this is Dave.
GIH Marc: Hey Dave, and welcome to your new home on Golf is Hard! What’s your golf background?
GIH Pro Dave Vitols:
I always had a passion for golf since I was a little kid. My Dad would take my brother and I to the local courses to look for balls in the woods. I would then clean ’em up and sell them to the players on Sunday mornings. One time, when I was 9 or 10, I remember making about $11. The best ones were the Titleists, I sold them for $.50 each. One day the golf pro saw me and was pissed because I was taking his business…he kicked me off the course. I ended up playing for my high school and college teams and got better every year. I played baseball too, otherwise I might have really gotten to be a good player.
GIH: How did you end up a pro, and why’d you stop?
It was the passion that drove me into the golf business and the dream that I would play on tour (yeah…right). Anyway, after working for about 2 years in a suit and tie, during which time my game steadily improved, I decided to quit my job and pursue the dream. I got to know some of the local club pros, which were sort of mentors, and they hooked me up with a job at a 54 holed private club in Florida. Packed up everything I owned in my car and drove down for a $6/hr ranger job. This place was awesome, practiced everyday and really improved. I landed a great assistant pro job back in MA at a private club and for the next 3 years lived in MA in the summer and Florida in the winter. Worked through the PGA program and landed a great year-round job at a Nicklaus facility in AZ. Spent about four years there, ended up the head pro at one of the courses on property. AZ was the best, played or practiced just about every day, worked with the Nicklaus/Flick golf schools and really learned how to teach well. Played with quite a few tour players…got to be pretty good myself. My most fun round ever was playing with Alice Cooper and Paul Westphal in the same 4-some. Who would expect them to be friends, but that’s what golf does, it brings people together. “Coop” shot a 78 I believe, not bad…
Eventually I got a little burned out…working seven days a week…got married, had kids and decided I needed to not be working every weekend. Still miss teaching…and playing competitively but some day I’ll get back to playing competitively, maybe when the kids go to college…
GIH: What’s your best round played?
Shot 67 a few times…but my “best” round was qualifying for the Mass Open, low 70’s but just remember the feeling of qualifying for a great tournament.
(GIH Marc’s note): 67! My best is slightly higher.
GIH: What’s your favorite golf course?
GIH: What’s your favorite club in the bag?
Used to be the Taylor Made 13 degree burner (fairway metal), made a double eagle hitting it twice on a par 5 on the 12th at Desert Mountain. Always loved the putter too, believed I could make every putt.
GIH: What’s your favorite shot to make?
I got to be really good out of the sand while in AZ. Nicklaus designs are usually elevated greens and deep bunkers, so you had to be good. However, there is still nothing like blasting a long straight drive, exactly where you aim it.
GIH: What’s your favorite drill when practicing or teaching?
I actually hated doing drills, but the most effective one for almost anyone is hitting shots either with both feet together or balancing on one foot. This really helps promote feeling the weight in the club and helps keep the body relaxed while swinging. Most people are amazed when they see the ball fly more than 80% of their typical distance on a “normal” shot.
When I practiced, I would spend hours on my short game…wedges, etc. of all distances.
GIH: As a golf teacher, what was your favorite type of student?
First, the student that was really passionate about the game, about learning it and about having fun while improving…they were the most fun to teach. As far as seeing the quickest results…the easiest to teach were those that played other sports, especially tennis, baseball, hockey, etc. I say that only because they may have better understood the concept of using their hands to move an object. It is quite easy to teach a baseball player how to hit a golfball…but really…anyone can do it. While in AZ, I gave a few lessons to former Red Sox player Dwight Evans…not only my favorite team growing up…but one of my favorite players…what a blast. Or course I made him swing the golf club like a baseball bat, I had to see the old sweet swing up close.
Folks… this is a new day for Golf is Hard… strap in because it’s going to get interesting from here on out.
If you have specific questions for Dave, please leave them here in the comments!