For the Love of the Game!
I was introduced to the game of golf at the age of 9 by my best friend's father. I was hooked immediately! My best friend Mike took golf lessons weekly at a local driving range in the Bay Area. I would tag along and hit balls in the stall next to Mike while taking his golf lesson. I soaked up every word that came out of the golf instructor's mouth just like a sponge. I applied what I heard to my golf swing, learning what worked the best for me. I grew to love the game of golf in so many ways.
While growing up, I played several competitive team sports: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and swimming, but my focus always returned to golf. I quickly learned how the other sports I played helped my golf game. I loved the personal challenge of golf, from the different golf courses to playing with different people. I loved how every round of golf was unique. I loved the game.
At the age of 15, my first job, you guessed it, was at a golf course, Shoreline Golf Links in Mountain View, California. My responsibilities were picking the driving range, washing golf carts, and working the bag drop. Within one year, I was a golf shop assistant. I decided to work in the golf industry or recreation, so I moved to San Luis Obispo, California, in 1989 to attend California Polytechnic University SLO. While attending school, I worked at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. I graduated with a B.S. in Recreation Administration in the spring of 1995. I ended up doing my college internship at the Avila Beach Golf Resort to finish out my degree. I have PGA Head Professional Scott Sickich to thank for that opportunity and his guidance along the way.
Now that I had my college degree, I decided it was time to focus on my career in golf, and by the summer of 1996, I was the Head Professional at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. I was still working on earning my PGA Club Professional status. I spent every moment I could expanding my knowledge of the business side of golf.
I was fortunate to be mentored by two great Golf Professionals, Tom Stankowski, PGA 1996-98, and Billy Gibbs, PGA 1998-2011. While being a PGA Apprentice and a PGA Member, I was fortunate enough to teach side by side with them. My job mirrored the "Learn by Doing" experience at Cal Poly SLO. As a result, my knowledge of the golf swing grew exponentially. More importantly, Tom & Billy influenced my teaching style by demonstrating the importance of understanding how each student learns and what techniques work best for them, individually, to achieve success. They taught me how to simplify golf instruction to the benefit of the student(s).
By the early 2000's I was a PGA Professional, Director of Golf at Avila Beach Golf Resort and Blacklake Golf Resort. I created the Avila Beach Golf Academy with Billy Gibbs, PGA. My teaching skills continued to evolve, and I loved every moment. I continued to work as the Dir. of Golf and a golf instructor at the Avila Beach Golf Resort and Blacklake Golf Resorts through the end of 2011. During that time several of the PGA Professionals including myself created the Golf C.A.R.E. Program a monthly golf clinic program. We offered over 75 clinics a month to over 150 members. It was amazing working with six other PGA Professionals during this time, one of them was PGA Teaching Professional, Jim Delaby. Jim's approach to golf instruction was think outside of the box. Jim’s teaching techniques helped me to see there was more than one way to approach golf instruction. Jim was my swing coach during this time and my game thrived! Thank you, Jim!
In June of 2000, Billy and I created the Golf Talk Radio with Mike & Billy Program. We aired live for 20 years on ESPN Radio in San Luis Obispo, Ca. and Bakersfield, Ca. We interviewed many great PGA and LPGA Tour greats from Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Lehman, Larry Mize, John Daly, Fred Couples, Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Dottie Pepper, Natalie Gulbis, and Brittany Lincicome. We listened to every word on how they approached the game of golf. We also interviewed the top golf instructors David Leadbetter, Jim Flick, Jim Hardy, Jim McLean, Sean Foley, Dave Stockton, Rick Smith, Laird Small, Butch Harmon, Mike Bender, and Dean Reinmuth, to name a few. Just like when I was a kid first learning the game of golf, I soaked up every word that I heard. All these incredible people helped shape my teaching philosophy and what it means to be PGA Professional.
January 2012, I started the certification process for the First Tee Junior Golf & Life Skill program. Becoming a part of the First Tee program was life changing working with juniors and seeing the positive impact the First Tee had on every one of them in life and golf. I became a Certified First Tee Coach in the spring of 2015 one of my proudest accomplishments!
In December 2012 I accepted the Director of Golf position at the Paso Robles Golf Club in Paso Robles, Ca. The owner of the Paso Robles Golf Club Mike Rawitser just happened to be the PGA Head Golf Professional and Operator of San Jose Muni GC and Santa Teresa GC in the Bay Area when I first started to play the game. The Paso Robles Golf Club is a very special place thanks to Mike Rawitser. I have had many great conversations about golf, the golf swing and life with Mike over the years. During the past 10 years at the Paso Robles Golf Club I have grown as a PGA Professional, a golf instructor and club fitter thanks to Mike and the rest of the amazing staff!
I am so blessed and lucky to have had these experiences and learn from this group of PGA/LPGA players and golf instructors, to have developed relationships with them, but most importantly, share their knowledge with you to learn to love the game.