Pros provide answers to staying on course
I’m always willing to experiment on the golf course, trying a hybrid instead of the 3-iron I’ve used for 20 years, or employing a swing change on the advice of somebody I trust.
Same goes for this space on Saturday mornings. Hence, the debut of the Pros Roundtable. I wanted to tap into the knowledge of area pros for instruction and opinion with the goal of better golf and better understanding of the game. I hope it becomes a semi-regular feature.
Our first threesome includes Gary Lindeblad, who has been at Indian Canyon for 28 years; Jason Pitt, in his eighth year at Chewelah; and Matt Bunn, in his eighth year at Hayden Lake. We’ll have another set of questions with three different pros for our next roundtable.
Repeatable as gravity
What’s the most common mistake you see when you play with amateurs?
Lindeblad: They don’t finish their swing. The only way to take consistency to the course is to have the same balanced finish on every swing.
Pitt: Club selection into the green. They usually choose the club that if they hit it perfectly it will go the desired distance instead of choosing a club that on average will go the desired distance. This tends to leave many amateurs short of the green and chipping.
Bunn: Not hitting enough club on approach shots and not getting into a good, balanced finish. Most of the trouble on approach shots is short and right of the green and this is where most amateurs miss their shots due to not hitting enough club and not getting on their left side.
It’s all about the finish
What’s the best finishing hole in the region (excluding your course)?
Pitt: No. 18 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. It plays 482 yards from the gold tees and 451 from the blues. It usually plays into the prevailing wind and it requires an accurate, long tee shot to carry the bunkers and find the fairway. The green is bunkered on the right and there are several tricky pin placements. It usually takes two really good shots to reach this par-4 in two.
Bunn: No. 18 at Liberty Lake. This par-4 has a tremendous amount of risk/reward. You can try knocking it on the green and making an eagle or a certain birdie or lay it up and make birdie or par the hard way. If you try to knock it on and the wind shifts or you miss your tee shot into the water, you will have a long approach for your third and a tough time making par.
Lindeblad: No. 18 at Qualchan. It is a tremendous risk/reward par-5 with little room for error if you hit your tee shot far enough to go for it in two. You have it all: downhill lie, uphill shot that you have to hit high, bunkers and a tricky green.
One the loneliest number
In 15 PGA Tour events this season, there have been 15 different winners. The last 14 majors have produced 14 different winners. Since Tiger Woods lost the No. 1 ranking roughly 18 months ago, four others have had stints at No. 1. Good or bad for golf that there isn’t a dominant player?
Bunn: The tour today is so deep with great players from all over the world. It’s great for golf and gives every player in the field a chance to win.
Lindeblad: It’s great to have a dominant player that people can look up to and aspire to be like. In absence of that, I think spreading it out is great for the game. It gives the oddsmakers fits.
Pitt: There’s no question Tiger Woods’ arrival on the golf scene was good for the game. It would be difficult to put a number on the players that have taken up the game as a direct result of Tiger Woods. However, I believe having many players competing to win tournaments any given week is also great for golf.
See no evil, hear some good
What’s the best putting tip/advice somebody gave you?
Lindeblad: Relax, let your arms hang free.
Pitt: The best tip was from my mentor, PGA Professional Jim Tucker. I remember being about 16 and him saying, “Listen for the putt to drop into the hole” instead of watching it. This is especially true on putts under 5 feet, and a tool I use with my students to this day.
Bunn: The best tip was from my dad. He told me look up when you hear the ball hit the bottom of the hole. This makes you keep your head still and down.