Former PGA Tour Player, Co-Host Hooked on Golf Radio and Web-site. Founder, The Hooked on Golf Foundation, To benefit junior golf. Member of 3 other golf related charity boards. Member, Olympic Club Hall of Fame. Four-time club champion, course record holder “62” The Lake Course. NCAA All-American Weber State University, Ogden Utah Member of their Sports Hall of Fame.PGA: Member Northern California Board of Directors, 2008 Club Professional of the Year.
THE ABENDROTH STORY —
Began playing golf at about 12 years old, took to it fairly quickly. Had two great instructors, John Geertsen Sr. and Virgil Shreve who taught simple but effective methods. In playing golf with my Father and his friends, I found I could help them with their games and that helped me want to teach golf. As I have evolved into the charitable aspect of the golf industry, I felt that so many people offered me opportunities, I felt I needed to give back and as I like to say, “I’m not even yet…”
You wake up in the morning — what your driving passion?
At my current age of 65 I leave notes to myself the night before to remember what to do. I try to stay organized if not playing golf, thinking about it.
A favorite quote of yours states, “golf is a simple game made too difficult by many.” What prompted you to feel that way?
Golfers tend to think too much and not play with their natural swing and improve that. I tell my students, swing don’t think.
Given that — is quality teaching readily available for the broader masses who are either playing now or contemplating playing the game?
There are a lot of quality teachers, but I feel there are two approaches.1. Improve a person’s natural swing as instinct is really hard to defy, so pick out the items that need fixing. 2. An instructor will have a certain swing method he wants everybody to adopt. I feel this is the wrong way to go. Be sure your instructor is convenient for you to get to.
What lessons were learned from various golf facilities in the greater Bay area following The Great Recession in ’09?
In Northern California over a two year period more than 20 golf courses have been closed, it taught that there were too many built. Many have learned to cut costs, such as less area to irrigate.
Costs to play golf are often cited as an obstacle to growth. Is affordable golf a real possibility — especially in California — and even more so in the broader Bay area?
In about 2002 I helped start Youth On Course that allows juniors to play for $5 or less. This program has grown to over 20 states and allowing for growth of junior golf play. Open to the public courses have learned to manage their discount programs, some country clubs do not have an initiation fee now and hope to get members to sign on and just pay the monthly dues. It is still a tough market for the course operators, but they are learning to operate more efficiently with less play at lower green fees.
Your biggest pet peeve is what?
Speed of play — much of it comes from what we see on TV with the players putting a line on the ball and making multiple adjustments, then the public golfer tries to copy that, and then they are a hole or two behind. Begin to get ready as you get to your ball, make a decision and make your swing.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
Improve speed of play, it would be an overall attitude for all golfers as an early slow player on a Saturday morning can make for a tough day for the groups behind them.
The major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA – are all seeking ways to attract new players to the game. Most notably, Millennials, women and minorities. If you were counseling them what would you advise be done?
Tough one — I guess maybe the organizations help supplement with funding to courses to offer some free or reduced green fees and instruction to get people more interested and better so they can enjoy it more.
Golf is famous for players having mulligans. If you could have one real life mulligan what would do differently the second time around?
Hate to look back, but taking better care of my body to be better able to play senior golf.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
From a golf point of view, my Father would say, swing nice and easy — couple that with instruction from Virgil Shreve based on the Ernest Jones Book, “Swing the Club Head” I was able to play golf with an effortless swing similar to Ernie Els and Fred Couples. That has allowed me to play some wonderful golf over the years and pass that theory on to many students who have thanked me 30 years later.
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