Some people are destine to be in the golf business, Big “D” was one of those people. Raised on the wind-swept prairie golf courses of western Kansas, Big D, with Pop-Eye arms and huge hands, could drill a 1-iron 240 yards into the wind. He played his college golf for a strong D-II school in his home state. Though never a real star, D became a good player and finished in the top five in two conference championships. After graduation, D pulled a few strings and became the first golf professional at the new country club that opened the summer after his senior season.
Big D’s first experience in the golf business ended after one season, as lessons were not enough to supplement his meager salary at the fledgling country club.
With a college degree and an infectious personality, D took a job with a national brewing company as a regional manager. He did a good job with the beer company, but the urge to work in the golf business was ever present in the back of his mind. All his spare time was spent at the golf course or reading and studying about his real passion in life. Through an old college friend, D was introduced to Tom Sieckmann, former PGA TOUR winner, who had joined Dave Pelz Golf as director of golf instruction for Plez’s nationwide short game schools.
In the initial interview, D’s personality and “gift of gab” earned him a second interview – this time on the golf course. Sieckmann wanted to see first hand D’s ability to demonstrate the techniques taught by Pelz. Sieckmann threw a few balls into the sand bunker near the practice green and said, “Okay D lets see you hit a few bunker shots.”
A few waggles and a smooth follow through, D’s ball left the bunker in a high soft arc landing about two feet short of the flag. The ball checked once then disappeared into the cup… end of interview!
Now living in Phoenix and traveling to some of America’s most exotic golf venues, D had found a home. Using his God given communication skills to impart Dave Pelz short game knowledge to celebrities, movie stars and the richest corporate executives, D was in his element.
Each spring three of his old golf buddies would travel to Phoenix and spend four or five days playing golf at some of the best courses in the valley. D loved to introduce us to the pros and managers of the fine clubs.
On this particular early April morning we were playing one of the areas finest courses, the site of a recent Skins Game. The course was monster tough and the greens were silky smooth and pool table fast. (D was a master at showing the Pelz School patrons how it was done, but those who knew him best, knew he sometimes had a tough time taking those skills to the course.) On the very long and thimble tight 4-par, 7th, D drilled a tee shot into the center of the fairway. A dead solid perfect 3-iron left D with a 25’ down hill, down grain putt to a hole cut near the left edge of the green. The frog hair was cut tight and a deep bunker lurked just a few feet off the green.
D surveyed the cat-quick putt from all angles, then with the Pelz taught, left-hand-low on a 32” putter, put a smooth stroke on the putt that would give him a birdie on the number 1 handicap hole. The shiny Callaway trickled just past the top of the cup…. hesitated then picked up speed and rolled into the bomb pit that was called a bunker. What had been a chance for a bragging-rights birdie had now turned into an up and down bogey… at best.
The lie was not the best and D was not in front of his students; with six eyes watching intently, D flinched and left the ball in the bunker. With his temper flaring he smacked the imported sand with his sand wedge and screamed, “too much ####ing sand in these bunkers.” Then he proceeded to skull the, once new, Callaway into the deep rough behind the green. His attempt at a flop shot hung up in the long rye grass just two inches from the roller coaster ride down to the pin. Now D was facing his seventh shot after being on the green after two beautiful strokes. D attempted to putt with a sand wedge (blade it just above center) and rolled the Callaway back into the bunker.
Big D walked into the bunker and bent over to pick up his ball when his best friend Al said, “Why don’t you just finish this hole. Show us amateurs what you learned teaching at those Dave Pelz short game schools!”
D blasted out and three putts later counted his score and came up with a total of 11. Al, the smart assed lawyer, remarked to no one in particular, “I guess I will send Pelz my $2,600 for a short game lesson.”