On August 10th, a feature about local Long Island Golf Pro, Bob DeStefano, will air on Golf Channel’s “Golf in America.” Bob Destefano has been the head golf professional at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club on Shelter Island, NY since 1962—an almost unprecedented tenure during which he has tought four generations of members. Set to retire in 2012 after achieving a record-setting 50 years with the club, Bob will becom Head Pro Emeritus and continue to teach. Bestselling sports author John Feinstein will be conducting an interview with him on Tuesday, 8/10, at 9pm eastern time.
We got a jump on the show with our own interview…
What is the biggest lesson you have taken away from the game?
People have to be told what they are trying to do with the club. Instead they are being told how to move 100 body parts in a certain way that they hope will eventually hit a ball on a precise dimple and straight at a pin. I have found that the answer to better play is having fun with the game. So relax and chill out, it is a game to be enjoyed and no one thinks of you any differently if you are a low or high handicapper.
What’s the most common mistake beginners make?
They worry too much about their mistakes. It is very hard to teach when they keep asking you what they did wrong. Almost all beginners have a poor left hand grip which finds it too much to the left. They also usually feel the swing should go up and down instead of more around.
Same for mid-handicappers?
Aiming to the right, without a doubt is the single biggest problem of mid handicappers. Worrying more about the swing than the main thing, the target. Too many swing thoughts and not enough focus on target and having fun with the game.
I started playing at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, New Jersey when I was 13 years old. I was a caddy at the club and never played baseball again, I just fell in love with the game of golf.
What lead you to teach the game?
When I was in the U.S. Coast Guard they told me that I had to teach the officers and enlisted men how to play golf. I decided that teaching was fun and I have never lost that enjoyment.
How has the game changed since you started teaching?
First of all, we teach totally different than we did 50 years ago. We were teaching a golf swing that went from in to out and today we are teaching the opposite. Teaching is high tech today with all the bells and whistles but I haven’t seen the drastic improvement in peoples games.