It’s time for the second installment of the Pros Roundtable, a regular feature in which we check in with area pros on various golf topics.
Today’s panelists are Tom Davidson, in his fifth year as director of golf at Circling Raven; Rex Schultz, head pro at Esmeralda for eight years; and Craig Schuh, 16-year pro at Deer Park.
Going the distance
Nearly every golfer craves more distance off the tee (they should probably crave more accuracy). What’s a tip to help players hit the ball longer?
Davidson: Get physically stronger. While good technique, centeredness of hit, width of arc and the type of ball are significant contributing factors to club-head speed and distance, I feel most would benefit more by improving their physical condition. Think about it: If a track star wants to get faster, a swimmer wants better lap times, a basketball player wants to jump higher, they achieve better results by working hard in the gym. The best players in the world nowadays are athletes first.
Schultz: Golfers should strive to maintain and even increase flexibility to enhance their shoulder and body turn. The body turn is the source of power in the swing, not the arms. If all else fails, you can try and play only downwind holes.
Schuh: Most players think lower loft goes farther. Most players should have more loft and need to swing the club properly. Get fitted with proper loft and shaft from a professional and maybe a lesson to maximize your distance.
Excluding your course, what’s the best par 5 in the region?
Schultz: I’m not sure why this is my favorite because I rarely play it well, but I really like the 16th at Spokane Country Club. Perhaps the thing that makes it a great hole is that it makes you want to keep trying it, hoping that someday you’ll figure it out.
Schuh: No. 12 at Circling Raven. This is a risk-reward hole. Hit a good drive and you can take a chance on getting home in two for an easy birdie, but it requires two great shots to make it pay off.
Davidson: No. 11 at Old Works in Anaconda (Mont.), a Nicklaus masterpiece that fits the terrain like a glove. A creek and a huge black slag bunker line almost the entire left side and thick “cabbage” on the right frame this hole beautifully.
A well-placed tee shot allows the player to be aggressive on the lay-up to set up a short approach to a green guarded in front by a creek and two deep bunkers.
Is slow play (which became a hot topic recently with incidents involving Morgan Pressel and Kevin Na) an issue on the professional tours and how can it be rectified?
Schuh: The play has gotten slower because of longer and faster courses. They still should be able to play fast enough, because they are the best players in the world. The slow play penalty needs to be enforced. If it cost me $20,000-$100,000 a stroke, I think I would play faster.
Davidson: No doubt all tours are taking a hard look at their current policies to discuss any adjustments that should be made. Ultimately, all players are informed of those policies before every event and it is their personal responsibility to see they comply. This is what I love most about this great game, all consequences and rewards ultimately fall on the shoulders of the individual participant. There is no other game like it.
Schultz: Slow play is a problem on the professional tours only inasmuch as it influences the people watching on television. Long pre-shot routines are easier to deal with when it takes only 68 shots to get around the course. When you take 98 shots, it can really lengthen a round. High-profile penalties, like the one issued to Pressel, should influence some of the slower players on tour to speed up their routines.
The perfect job
If you didn’t have your current job, what would you be doing?
Davidson: Maybe I’d be a sports writer. They get to play more golf than a PGA Club Professional does.
Schultz: I’m very lucky in that I have a job that I love. If I was doing something else, I’m sure that I’d be trying to figure out how to get a job exactly like the one I have now. If I had to pick an alternate occupation, it would be something outdoors and fun so I’ll go with Lochsa River whitewater rafting guide.
Schuh: I feel very fortunate being in the golf business and doing something I love. I guess my other dream job would be a hunting or fishing guide.