We’ve all heard that before, along with ‘wait your turn,’ and ‘just be patient.’ But for John Schob — a man who wanted to forge a career in golf — it wasn’t much of a wait at all.
John became the head pro at Huntington Crescent Club in 1976 at the ripe old age of 24. Upon taking the job, he could never have guessed that he would still hold that position 41 years later. This past December, John Schob retired after quite a ride at the Huntington Crescent Club. We sat down with him for an enjoyable ride of our own.
Golfing Magazine: Let’s start with the years immediately prior to taking the job at Huntington Crescent Club. What was happening in your life at that time?
John Schob: Well, I came out of college in 1974. I had gone to Rutgers where I was captain of the golf team. Those were wonderful years. While I was in school, during the summers I worked as a ranger at Rock Hill in Manorville, driving there from my home in Bay Shore. Even as a ranger, I sensed that golf was where I belonged.
When I graduated from Rutgers in ‘74, I gave myself five years in the golf business to see how I liked it, and how far I could take it. After graduating, I took the position as Assistant Pro at Rock Hill. This brought me into the golf shop, along with giving some lessons – a very valuable experience.
Two years later, a friend of mine named Terry Murphy — a salesman — told me that the longtime pro at Huntington Crescent Club, Lenney Peters, was looking for an assistant pro. Lenney also had the concession at Crab Meadow at the time. When I met with Lenney, he explained the position required working not only at Huntington Crescent Club, but also to spend time at Crab Meadow, a public course.
After taking a prearranged Myrtle Beach golf trip, I came back and learned someone else (John Andrisani) was doing the work at Crab Meadow — and Lenney told me I would be staying with him. I had apparently made a really good impression with Lenney, and it worked out well for all of us.
Toward the end of 1976, Lenney went to the board at Huntington Crescent Club and said it was time to retire … after 36 years there as head pro. He submitted his resignation in the fall, and it was assumed Lenney’s son, who had worked at other clubs, would step in and succeed his dad. I wasn’t even a PGA member yet. I hadn’t earned all my credits at that point. But I got my resume together and decided to apply for head pro anyway. Surprisingly, they gave me an interview … and even more of a surprise, they offered me the job. I knew I could complete my credits to become a Class A PGA member by May of 1977, so that was it.
I had mixed feelings at first … Lenney was such a great mentor, and had a wonderful relationship with the members. But it worked out well.
GM: Let’s talk about your career there in stages … starting with the early years at Huntington Crescent Club from the mid 70s through the mid 80s.
JS: At first, I was in shock to be given that position as head pro at such a prestigious club. I made it my goal to be the best professional I could be for the membership. It didn’t take long to feel as if I was a part of their family. I told the golf chairman I was overwhelmed by the support of everyone there. I was single at the time, and spent most of my time at the club. This was my first experience as a head pro, and first experience at a private club. There were great mentors I had along the way to help me figure it all out. One thing they taught me was to be unafraid to hire people who are better than I am. That way, we all learn from each other — and I’ve done just that.
GM: Now you mentioned that during those early days, you were single. But eventually, that came to an end. There’s a golf story related to how you met your wife, Jean.
JS: Yes. Jean was a golfer, and although she had taken up the game late, she started working for the Met PGA as assistant director to Charlie Robson. At a pro-am, she was at the registration desk … she smiled, and that’s all I needed (laughs).
We dated for 11 years … she lived up in Westchester and I was here on Long Island. Golf is important to her — she started the inner school junior program for the PGA. She had some really big names come to do clinics, including Tiger Woods, Chi Chi Rodriguez, hockey’s John Vanbiesbrouk , the Giants’ Lawrence Taylor , tennis legend Arthur Ashe … and she would invite them to play at Winged Foot, where her parents were members. Eventually, we did get married in 1993.
GM: You mentioned earlier that when you first got started as an assistant pro, and then a head pro, you knew you had a lot to learn. What are some of the most important things you have learned over four decades as a head pro?
JS: There’s an old saying — ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ Every day, there’s seems to be something new, whether it’s new product or new technology. Back when I started, there was no clubfitting, or demo days, or computerized handicaps. The rules of golf were changing, along with merchandising, styles, and more. It wasn’t as easy to keep up without high-tech.
Back in 1978 and 1979, a member of the club who owned a company that did video security asked me if I wanted to be the ‘first on the block’ to use video equipment. He brought me this huge box and big camera … My assistant pro, John Kirschner, and I took video of everybody. We had a large tv monitor at the bar, and we’d play the video of the golfers. This was the first time people were able to actually see their swings. Nowadays, video and TrackMan along with other high-tech tools are such a big part of the game.
GM: How about the changes you’ve seen over 40 years at Huntington Crescent Club?
JS: Well, over the years we experimented a few times with reversing the golf course. After playing the 1st hole, we went to hole #10. Pace of play was the reason we tried that because the back nine plays faster than the front side. But then we studied why architect Devereux Emmet designed the course the way he did in 1930. He wanted to give golfers some easier holes up front to warm up, since many courses in those days didn’t have any driving ranges. So, among the first six holes there are some easier ones — followed by 7 thru 12, six really tough holes.
Back in the 70s, the golf course was relatively short. But as equipment and the golf ball changed to increase distance, a number of holes were lengthened. We actually combined holes 5 and 6 to make it a longer par 4 … and we then found 170 yards back along the perimeter of the course for a par 3. At least half of the holes were lengthened to bring the course from about 6,200 yards to 6,500.
GM: And back to you and your golfing life. Most memorable moments, either at the club or elsewhere?
JS: Certainly, being involved with the Met PGA was very rewarding. They are my family. I went from being on a committee, to being a board member, to becoming president — a position I held for three years, from 1989 to 1991. Those were tremendous years for me. I learned so much from them, as they were the best pros and teachers in the country. I got to play golf with Jim Albus, Mike Joyce, and many others. I can’t say enough about my fellow professionals.
Among my golfing highlights … I’ve had four hole-in-ones overall. My wife has had FIVE. Every time I get to a par 3, I say maybe this will be the time I catch up. I’ve never had one here at the Crescent Club. I do feel as if I have a lot of golf left in me, and my wife and I plan on playing a lot of golf together.
Other memories include the Met PGA events and the pro-ams, which I always enjoyed. I also created my own yearly golf trip with some close friends — members of the club. It started 38 years ago with a trip to Hilton Head … and this past November, we went to Innisbrook in Florida. Other venues included Bay Hill, which was tough … because Arnie (Palmer) was there the first time we went … and then, the next year, Arnie wasn’t there as he had passed away. It’s still very emotional to think of that.
GM: Lastly, as you and your wife move to Westchester, what can you leave behind in terms of advice for the younger PGA professionals based on what you’ve learned and experienced.
JS: It’s all about personality and relationships. The members aren’t all that concerned with how far you hit a golf ball. They want to know what kind of person you are, and that you care for them — not only as a golfer, but as a person. I got to know the members personally, on and off the course. Know them by name.
GM: Congratulations on a wonderful career at Huntington Crescent Club — quite a ride. It certainly has been an incredible 41 years. All the best to you, Jean, and the family, and thanks so much.
Glen Oaks of Old Westbury will host the first leg of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. This year Northern Trust will replace Barclays as the title sponsor with a five-year agreement, signed in January. This is the opening event of the FedExCup Playoffs and it has plans to remain in the New York/New Jersey area for the next five years with the following courses hosting:
2018 The Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, N.J.
2019 Liberty National Golf Club, Jersey City, N.J.
2020 Plainfield Country Club, Edison, N.J.
2021 Black Course at Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale (Long Island), N.Y.
2022 Liberty National Golf Club, Jersey City, N.J.
Newsday’s Mark Herrmann had a nice write-up yesterday about the PGA Tour coming to Long Island in August. Here a few choice quotes – full article here.
“Most golf courses are going ‘rugged’ now, with more natural areas, ” Glen Oaks head pro Tim Shifflett said. “This is manicured. It’s green grass, it’s white big bunkers, it’s great views. It’s a look the average person really hasn’t gotten a chance to see very often.”
There is a temptation to compare the style to Augusta National, which is not entirely fair. That is the highest possible standard. Still, Glen Oaks superintendent Craig Currier used to work at Augusta and he took great care in sprucing up the 46-year-old course on Post Road. The hope is that the distinctive look will attract spectators to a tournament that had sparse crowds at Bethpage Black last year, when it was known as the Barclays.
And how does it compare to Bethpage Black?
“The experience here is much different than Bethpage,” said Peter Mele, the tournament’s executive director, after having brought a TV crew around the course for footage. “There is not a blade of tall fescue here. Everything is landscaped. It’s going to be an easy course to get around on.
If you’re struggling on the greens – whether you aren’t making enough or 3 -putting from long range – here are a few practice drills and key thoughts you should implement into your practice regimen.
I have stated this in a previous article, however, it’s worth repeating. Alignment is one of the most overlooked aspects of the setup, especially on the greens. And I’m not even referring to your feet. If your shoulders and putter face are aligned squarely to the target, you have a better chance of holing the putt if read correctly.
1. Buy a yard stick (flat, metal, with no grooves).
2. Place the yard stick on the line you wish to start the ball on (Pick a 6 – 10 footer to start).
3. Place the ball on the yard stick and setup squarely to your line.
4. Hit the putt with the objective being to keep the ball on the yard stick until it reaches the other end.
This drill will get you to pay attention more to your starting line, rather than thinking about the hole (which causes anxiety and a guided stroke, leading to mishit putts),
Here’s my first YouTube instructional video:
This video explains a drill I use, and have been using for a long time, concerning keeping your eyes quiet throughout the stroke. If you can do this drill, and picture the coin under the ball on the course, you will give yourself the best chance to hit a great putt.
These are just a couple drills to help you take your mind off of the hole when you’re out on the course. Focus on what you can control, not what is about to happen. Your setup, your starting line, and making a consistent stroke. If you can do those three things (be honest with yourself!), then you hit the best putt and there’s nothing you can do once the ball is gone.
Keep getting better at worrying about the things inside your control, and you will hit better putts, and shoot lower scores.
Michael Midgette, PGA
Golf Academy Tips
You’ve heard the phrase, “Aim small, Miss Small.” If not, it’s a very good way to approach golf course management. Aim for a leaf on the tree, not the entire tree; or, aim for a blade of grass or a spot the size of a dime when putting.
This can also be used when working on contact with your irons or fairway woods off the turf.
First, when working on contact, I definitely suggest you use face tape to really get an idea of where you are striking the golf ball.
Then, color in the top of a tee with a sharpie (black, red or blue preferably). Make sure you use enough ink so that it will come off on the face tape.
Place the tee on the ground with the top of the tee facing the club head first.
Make swings trying to make contact with the tee as best you can.
This is going to do two things:
1. Force you to make a downward blow to get the tee off the ground.
2. Show you where you are making contact.
Then, once you’ve done this enough times, hit some golf balls. You can even color in the back of the golf ball as well to see exactly where you are making contact.
While the Black is about distance, the Red is all about angles. With many doglegs, plenty of importance is not only placed on how well you hit your drives, but how well you place them. Nice looking drives that find the wrong side of a fairway can yield partially blocked approach shots due to overhanging trees. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a short course as it measures over 7,000 yards from the back tees (and 6,555 from the middle tees) which is pretty impressive for a par 70 course. The yardages noted below are from the tips which will be too much for many of you to handle. Unless you can average drives of 280+ yards, play from the white tees and enjoy the ride.
As with any Bethpage course, the pace of play is usually an issue here but it has gotten better in recent years. The conditions are usually very good and the value is great, especially for walkers.
13th Hole – Par 4 – 400 Yards
The 13th is a great par 4 where you will have to make a decision off the tee. Dead ahead you will find a cluster if large bunkers and deep fescue that bisect the fairway. If you go right of the bunkers you will have a shorter shot into the green, but you’ll have to contend with a greenside bunker that protects the front of the green. Those that go for the left fairway will be left with a better angle into the green and a slightly longer approach shot.
15th Hole – Par 4 – 482 Yards
With the exception of the 4th hole on the Black, this may be the best hole at Bethpage. This is a double dogleg half par hole where a par feels like a birdie. Like the 5th on the Black, the tee shot here calls for a power fade whereas the approach asks for a draw to an uphill green. It takes two very well struck shots to get your ball on the green but be careful as a big number here can easily ruin your scorecard late in the round. Aside from the 1st hole, this is the toughest hole on the course and probably the best hole, though the same could be said for the…
18th Hole – Par 4 – 463 Yards
There’s a reason that USGA officials considered using the 18th hole on the Red to “replace” the 18th hole on the Black for the US Open in 2009. This is a fantastic hole and the view from the elevated tee box is nothing short of amazing. There is a fantastic bunker which guards the right side of the fairway as well as bunkers surrounding your slightly uphill approach shot to the green. The green itself sits a bit of a natural amphitheatre and was one of the reasons tournament officials preferred this as the site of the 18th hole for the US Open. The is a fantastic closer to a fantastic course.
Bethpage Red is an all out great course that offers a stern test and yet allows you to put up a low number if you stay out of trouble. The Black is like Jack Nicklaus and the Red is like Arnold Palmer…the Black may be better, but you may like the Red more.
When it comes to sports, passionate New Yorkers have plenty of options. Yankees/Mets, Rangers/Islanders, Knicks/Nets, Giants/Jets, etc. Want golfing options? Well, look no further than Bethpage State Park where you have 5 courses to choose from. While the Black course gets all the accolades, today’s focus is going to be on the friendlier, yet stern, Red Course. While the Red Course may play the role of little brother to the Black, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a Giants vs Jets comparison as the two are much more evenly matched than that. (Bethpage Yellow, on a bad day, can represent the Jets in this analogy!).
The Black is longer and tougher and more suited to test the pros. However, it’s probably too brutal for the average golfer to play on a daily basis and not that fun as you are just trying to hang on for dear life on that back nine. As for the Red, it’s still a true test of your abilities while allowing you some better scoring opportunities along the way. There have been times where I have played both courses on back to back days and scored worse on the Red. However, my best round on the Red is 8 strokes better than my best round on the Black and I think that’s fairly indicative of how the courses can play.
Your round will start off with the daunting 1st and end with the showstopping 18th with a lot of thrills in between. Here is a closer look at some of the holes to note.
1st Hole – Par 4 – 471 Yards
Right off the bat, you are put to the test. Your first drive of the day will have to be long, and straight, to give yourself a glimmer of hope of reaching this green in two. If that’s not daunting enough, you’re surrounded by an antsy gallery who will judge every facet of your swing since they will be playing behind you for the next 5 hours. Whatever advantage you get from the downhill tee shot will be taken away with the long and uphill approach shot. The good news is that there are no bunkers around this green so do your best to get the ball up to the top of the hill. If you can manage a 4 here to start your day, take it and run!
4th Hole – Par 3 – 181 Yards
The 4th is a fabulous par 3 with a slightly angled skyline green that drops off to the back and to the left. An intimidating bunker guards most of this green and the hole begs for a draw if you have that in your bag. This is truly a hole where one swing can determine if you walk away with a birdie or a double-bogey. Club selection is key.
5th Hole – Par 5 – 528 Yards
The only par 5 on the front will certainly grab your attention after what appears to be a rather mundane hole from the tee. Be sure to keep your drive left in order to give yourself the best angle for your second shot on this three shot hole. Any drives pushed out to the right will need a 2nd shot to be shaped around a cluster of trees and find a sliver of fairway that narrows as you approach the green that sits on top of the hill. Two well-placed bunkers pinch the fairway 100 yards short of the green and these will have to be carefully navigated on your approach. The green is well protected as well, and the uphill approach will make it difficult for you to gauge your distance. Like many holes on the Red, well-placed shots can make this an easy par but one little mistake can turn this hole into a disaster!
9th Hole – Par 4 – 466 Yards
The long par 4 9th hole usually plays into the wind which basically makes it a half par hole. The hole gently doglegs left around a myriad of bunkers and in order to give yourself the shortest approach shot, you will have to challenge these bunkers.
Remember that last swing thought you had before the winter that really seemed to work on most shots? Or if you’re like most golfers, the last 10 swing thoughts that worked…
To get back into the season, these are my 3 keys to get the most out of your game early in the season (without taking a lesson):
1. Keep it simple!
Dumb it down a little or in some cases, a lot. Use your most valuable swing thoughts (collect 2-4), and alternate swings thinking about 1-2 (max) swing thoughts per swing. Odds are your swing is a little quick to hit from the top, or you have lost your tempo. Work with a metronome (around 40-50 bpm is a good swing tempo) and smooth out your swing.
2. Get rid of the moving parts!
Stabilize your lower body, turn your upper body, and minimize your wrist hinge in the backswing to start. Then little by little, add some lag (cocking of the wrists in the downswing/maintaining the angle between your left wrist and the club shaft for as long as possible). Find a happy medium or what seems to work best concerning the amount of lag.
3. Work on your SHORT GAME!
Working on the short game (chipping, pitching, and putting) is the fastest, and easiest way to improve your game. It is also the first thing to go after a little time off from the game, that is, your touch and feel on and around the greens. So during your first couple rounds of the year, drop some balls around the greens (if you have time) and work on hitting certain targets, putts from 3-10 feet around the hole, or even chipping balls on the tee boxes.
Use these three tips, and I can almost guarantee you’ll improve and see your scores drop quicker!
Look out for my YouTube Lesson Series coming this Summer!
If you’ve played this game long enough, or have even been paired up with some avid golfers, you have definitely heard the phrase, “Drive for show, Putt for dough.’ Well, whether if you have heard it or not, it’s really not that true. Yes, of course, putting does get the ball in the hole, however, if you are not in the fairway, setting up your approach shot properly, odds are you’ll be putting for par or bogey more times than you’d like.
In fact, while watching a PGA Tour event recently, they were reading statistics that players in the rough averaged almost half a stroke higher on a given hole, than players who were hitting the fairways. That’s equivalent to almost 9 shots a round!
I’m almost sure you’ve heard the phrase, “250 in the fairway is better than 300 in the rough.” This phrase definitely holds more truth than the previous one.
The importance of tee shots being in good position to set up an approach is extremely important, and here’s a great example:
This week, during the Shell Houston Open, I watched Player A, on a 368 yard hole, pull his hybrid out, knock it down the fairway, while his playing partner, Player B, who was known as a long hitter, pulled out driver and hit it about 40 yards from the green… in the right rough (and the rough wasn’t too penal). Player A knocked his approach on the green 20 feet below a back-right hole location, while Player B had a delicate shot to a flag with a big slope carrying golf balls away from the hole about 10 feet behind it. Player B actually hit a great shot, but because he was in the rough (lie was not bad at all), he was unable to spin the ball enough to get it to stop on the green, and subsequently the ball found the slope and rolled about 30 yards over the green.
Here are a few suggestions on driving the ball:
You don’t have to always pull out the driver. If there is trouble you can reach, such as a fairway bunker or trees through the fairway on a dogleg, take out a shorter club.
There are a couple of reasons:
If you’re aware of the trouble, and know there’s a possibility of reaching it, you will subconsciously end up steering the ball off the tee, causing a mishit, or ending up in the trouble after all.
When you have a club in your hand that you know won’t put you into trouble, you will make a better, more aggressive swing, causing better contact and ultimately putting yourself in better position to play the hole.
Keep your stats!
Unsure of how many fairways and greens your hitting? Keep track of that on your scorecard. “But Mike, we use the scorecard for our foursome, there won’t be enough room.” I have an idea, grab your own scorecard for this purpose.
Mark it like this:
You could even write down an R or L (Right or Left) on your missed fairways to keep track of where your misses are and to give you an idea of what you need to work on while you practice (Tip: you can do this for Greens in Regulation, too).
Keep a consistent routine and a consistent swing thought process.
Consistency in your golf game doesn’t come from hitting thousands of golf balls. Consistency comes from hitting golf balls THINKING about the same thing. During your next round, I challenge you to think about one thing that works for you, WITHOUT ABANDONING IT because of a couple bad shots.
If you’re not sure what to think about, here’s a few that might work and I encourage you to try on the range:
Keep an even tempo.
Make a full swing and hold your finish until the ball lands.
Don’t try to kill the ball; make a smooth, accelerating swing THROUGH the ball, not AT the ball (try to feel like the fastest part of the golf swing is just after impact).
Feel like you’re only trying to hit the ball half as far as you normally do. This will encourage better contact and you’ll find the ball goes just as far.
Loose arms and grip (AS LOOSE AS POSSIBLE), stable lower body (feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart), and use your upper body (shoulders and torso) as much as possible to swing the club.
Utilize these tips, and you should be finding the fairway more often, hitting more greens, and lowering those scores.
P.S. A little short game and putting practice never hurt anyone either, don’t neglect that part of the game as a result of this article.
The good people at Carnoustie, the golf apparel company, sent over some samples for us to try out. The Carnoustie Golf Links has a long and storied history in the annals of golf. Its namesake apparel company take a traditional approach to style and cut.
When you think of a golf shirt, this is it in terms of style and cut – Carnoustie really nails it. Long in the arms and waist, Carnoustie deals in that classic look. Solid colors and horizontal stripes dominate the 2017 collection. As for the fabrics, Carnoustie uses some wicking-type fabric – which works well on-course.
The pullover sent was whole different story. The XL, which is my size, was way too big under the arms and way too short at the waist. A good pullover needs to get out the way during the golf swing. I’ve found the best pullovers are fitted under the arms and longer past the waist. Carnoustie’s version needs to go back to the design drawing board.
All in all, keep an eye out for Carnoustie gear – it’s worth a try.