Meet the Pro with Go Golf U.S.
Welcome to the second edition of “Meet the Pro”. If you missed the first edition, let us quickly explain what/why we do it. A goal of Go Golf U.S. is to build a personal connection in the game of golf again. We want to help players get to know the courses, golf shop staff and pros. When we see familiar faces and can add a gracious smile or hello, it makes a better experience for all. So, to gather content for these blogs, I (Alan Liwush) put the pros on the hot seat in an interview to find more about them to share with all of our readers. We currently have no set order for the selection of our Pro interview, so don’t think we are playing favorites by any means. Furthermore, please enjoy this hilarious edition of “Meet The Pro” with Chris Devincentis of Eagle Vale Golf Course.
Chris Devincentis of Eagle Vale Golf Course
In knowing Chris “Devo” Devincentis from the past, I looked forward to doing this interview. In getting to know him over the years, he is truly an amazing person and golf instructor. His dry humor will come out in his jokes but once you get to understand him, he is all the more funny. Enjoy this short story/interview on Chris Devincentis of Eagle Vale Golf Course.
I figured I would start this one on the lighter side in which I opened the interview with a totally irrelevant golf question. It was, “How do you pronounce your last name?” I asked this question as I have a confusing last name to say based off the spelling and wanted to bring some clarity to those that have been calling Chris “Chris D” or “Devo” for years. His answer was, “Great question, I like where this interview is going already. We’ll ya see its quite simple. We’re going to break it down just like I would a golf swing. You start with a hard letter D (DEE), then you add the name Vincent but emphasize the V in Vin and C in Cent (DEE-Vin-Cent) and finish off with the word Is (De-Vin-Cent-Is).” After his explanation, it did make more sense. He elaborated by saying, “That’s of course how I say it, but my Italian cousins and ancestors could say it entirely different, who knows?”
I am always curious on how people got started into the game of golf (especially pros) and I find the same answer a lot, but the trend of “my father influenced me” is a very positive one. Chris began playing golf at the age of 15 at Braemar Country Club (also part of Go Golf U.S.). His father, a member at the time, would bring him out on the course to caddy. The caddying consisted of carrying an old pleather bag (that weighed as much as he did at the time) and when things slowed down on the course, it was off into the woods to search for lost balls. “I was OK with searching for balls. It was like my own Easter egg hunt, it was fun for me back then.” Devincentis’s father was explained as a “real weekend warrior who played strict by the rules, an 18 handicap all day. But, he did it right with me. He held me on the range and in lessons until I was ready for the course. When I graduated to the course, the real fun started. I would get dropped off at the course in the morning and carry 18 with that goofy pleather bag with all the black tubes in it. The tube would come out whenever you pulled a club out. Drove me crazy! But, my love for golf surpassed the number of things that were not ideal about it.”
Chris, much like the other pros have said, was given a passion for the game by his father. Another influential person to pulling a young Devincentis into the game was the Braemar PGA Pro (at the time) Al Martin who now works for him at Eagle Vale. “I always will remember Al for having the Best/Worst plaid and sansabelt golf pants. I loved the style and reverence that the old guys had. It was a style that was unique and I dug it!”. The biggest things that pulled Chris into the game were his father, the culture and the people coupled with the fact that “the game of golf can be played forever.” He really liked it growing up as “it didn’t require getting wacked with a stick by a fellow player in the head or knee area.” All valid points made.
-Side note. I asked Chris if he still had any of his “wild” looking pants like Al from his younger days. his response was, “I have a few pairs of updated pants by Nike that Im sure 20 years from now someone will say, ahh don’t you remember those goofy Nike pants Chris used to wear, hilarious right? Think about Puma and Rickie, one day they wont be in style and you look back and laugh. To answer the question, Yes I still own outlandish clothes but they are from now a days.
At 17, Chris took his first job in golf working on the grounds crew at Braemar. “I knew by the time I was 17 I wanted to become a PGA professional and stay in golf all my life, if that was possible.” Several years later, he found himself in the golf shop. A job opportunity took him over to Big Oak Golf and Driving range. Then we finish up at today with his current position as head golf professional at Eagle Vale, which he has been for 15 years and counting.
PHOTO ABOVE IS OF CHRIS TEEING OFF ON 1 AT EAGLE VALE.
Golf Talk, Instructing, Life Lessons and Random Goodness
Let’s get right into the nitty gritty. One of my favorite questions I ask the Pro’s is, What’s your view on technology and golf? After asking this, I got a “note to self, hate Al Liwush for asking hard questions” on this one before the answer. “I call it the Space Race and they have already done some things to ban it because you can’t just go hit a super ball from the tee to the green every time.” I couldn’t agree more with this. The long ball is impressive, but when does it stop?
This started a little bit of a tangent but it was hilariously true. Chris then said, “Then I sit there and say ya know back in my day when I passed my PAT (Playing Ability Test) I did it with a piece of wood and an actual golf ball. Now, I hit the ball further than when I was younger. If I hit the real wood now I cant even get it to go 200 yards and I say how did I ever hit a ball square in my life time? They had blades and woods and thats it.” For you younger readers, take a look at what he means below… I bet anyone a lifetime membership to Go Golf U.S. that they can’t shoot a round under 15 over par with a set of these! (Side by side view of an old driver next to a “newer” driver)
Golfer FAQ’s – I let Chris tell me and answer many of the frequently asked questions by golfers below. His answer’s are in quotes.
Regarding lessons – How do I cure my Slice?
“This is still the standard issue with the golf swing. It’s actually not just the player’s fault either. The Earth’s orbit still tends to send peoples balls on a left to right trajectory around the globe haha! There are many ways to cure it. I watch people hit first, use video to show them what’s causing the slice, then fit some drills to cure the nasty curve!”
In regards to equipment – Why don’t you carry more left handed clubs?
“Would love to, but the shop is only so big, right?”
Asking about the course – Who put the pins in today?
“When people putt poorly, the grounds superintendent becomes “Carl” the greenskeeper from Caddyshack, with evil intent for golfers, not gophers.”
Chris’s explanation on rules questions had me laughing hysterically because I have been through it personally before. “A LOT of rules questions, with people running into the shop with hands and arms flailing, trying to get me or whoever will listen on their side for a rules violation or issue. One guy starts his sad story, but I stop them before the get started. STOP. I always ask them to give me the story with player “A” and player “B”, so I don’t get in the middle of that dramatic, $2 weekend-nassau-I’ll-kill-you-so and so….LOVE those questions. I become a lawyer, judge, jury and psychotherapist within about a minute! Everyone thinks it’s so cut and dry when it’s not. Then you tell them the rule and take it as player A and B to alleviate hurting any feelings.”
Next time you head into the pro shop asking the pro for help, be sure to use the player A and B scenario, it will be more helpful.
My standard questions for the pro’s
What’s one thing you would tell/teach every beginner level player to work on to set themselves up for long term success in playing golf?
“Off the top of my head, it’s really simple and it doesn’t have to necessarily be a PGA pro who teaches you but, I would say 1. Get a good grip 2. A good posture and 3. Learn how to aim. If you can do that, you’re going in the right direction. To me, you have to be able to grip it properly, bend and athletically move and then aim. If you’re not aimed properly, you’re in trouble to begin with. Then if you’re athletic, you’ll start changing the swing to compensate for bad aim and it usually goes bad from there. Those are three things that my Grama at 95 can learn. And if you can learn those three things to start you’re OK. Its already an impossible game, start with those. AND don’t listen to your husband/significant other. Don’t listen on course either, make changes on the range.”
What are the biggest mistakes/myths you see in golf training? What are the biggest wastes of time? (i.e. Always warm up with a 7 iron)
“Two big ones – Keep your head down and keep your arms straight. Well, we talk about bending and getting a posture and your head should be relatively steady. But when people keep their head so still, they don’t end up turning their body on the through swing and they end up looking at the ground and the ball which turns into a disastrous arm only swing. Then I don’t like keeping your arms straight either. Think of it like throwing a frisbee, you don’t tell someone to stick there arms straight out to throw it. It needs to have some give to it. Pros can get away with it with the left arm lock, but when amateurs do it, it ends up as a tension filled mess. That’s two things I tell people to not think about right off the bat. Craig Harmon teaches to look at someone as they swing and you can tell the origin of their swing and how they were taught. Dad may have told the kid “keep your head down son” and then he’s so rigid and he cant make any rhythm or turn. Or you see someone pull the club back sooooo slow and then they lose rhythm tempo and timing.” I didn’t take notice to this until Chris pointed it out. I guess I can blame my dad for my terrible golf swing…
What do you believe makes your teaching style different? Who trained or influenced you?
“Currently still being influenced. As you engage in the golf world you hear things you like/don’t like and pick and choose off of the platter of education. I like Craig Harmon, he keeps it simple. Teachers who keep it simple and don’t have such a stringent system, I like. You have to have freedom to keep things simple. The swing happens in 1.5 seconds or less, so really how much can you think of. Diane Wilde, Craig and a lot of our local teachers are great. I use some teaching aids but not many, I like using video, because I am more visual and you can show them the swing and what they are doing (both good and bad) with a video. In terms of different, I try to keep it simple and as I get older, it gets simpler. You have to think about the person to, they have generally had this swing for a long time and you have to make gradual adjustments, you cant make a complete overhaul unless you start from the ground up on the first swing. If you change too much you can get in a one step up, two steps back situation and its really discouraging.”
Whats the most important thing golf has taught you and you hope it teaches others?
“Thats Deep man and here’s my best Walter Cronkite voice… Golf is a game of a life time and its true. It was a sport that didn’t require legs and arms getting broken and my dad said you can play forever. I still try to play other sports, but I hurt more when I do them. Golf mirrors life a lot in that you’re always learning something new and if you don’t see that, you haven’t gotten into golf enough. The rules of the game are like the laws of society and you learn by playing and getting more involved. You are teaching yourself that you cant cheat in this game. To me, its opposite of the “if your not cheating, your not trying” because of the honesty in the sport. Its so fundamental, wholesome and good. It’s something that improves me as a player and person every time I go out on the course and thats why its a great place to start kids. I have never walked away from the course thinking I know it all, I am still learning. I thought when I became a PGA pro, I was all set, NOPE, I was then going to learn even MORE about golf.”
Q: What is one thing you offer in your golf shop that you think EVERY golfer needs? (has to be $99 and under)
A: “As for what every player should have. an Orange Whip swing trainer. It’s a simple tool, great for tempo, right around $100, maybe a little more. To find out more about the Orange Whipe trainer, visit this site link http://www.orangewhiptrainer.com/
Q: What golf book is your favorite, do you recommend to read or have you most gifted in the past? I like this question for gentleman over 40 as they tend to read more…
“Teaching wise, David Leadbetter “Faults and Fixes”. This is NOT just a training book but its more so designed for a teacher or “Lessons From Golf Greats”, also by Leadbetter.
“Fun books I like are “Golf in the kingdom” by Michael Murphy. If you’re an avid fan and you haven’t read it, you need to! And “The Little Red Book” by Harvey Penick.”
Q: Name 3 things you need in the golf bag – CANNOT be a club.
A: “A line em up. It’s a tool to make a line on your ball to help with alignment.”
2. “A range finder. Have to know where you’re at to hit the proper club.” Go Golf U.S. recommended brand is the Bushnell tour V3
- Chris wanted to change this up for his 3rd item and decided to make it What everyone should NOT have in their golf bag.
“PUT THE PHONE IN THE BAG or leave it at home. I have never seen the worst golfer in my life, but I have seen the best in Tiger and he was never carrying a phone on the course. When you have the phone, you have a diversion. When you have the phone, you want to work or engage on social media. You are here for generally $50 for the day at 4-5 hours, thats $10 per hour, if you can find a cheaper place to have fun, go do it.”
I couldn’t agree more with Chris here. I love technology, but the attachment to cell phones are slowing up the game. It’s 4 hours, ditch the phone! Use our app to save on your round and then forget it haha!
Q: What do you do for fun away from golf?
A: “I play in a rock n roll band. We’re not good, but it’s something creative and fun and my dad started with me years ago. I play guitar and sing as little as possible. We play southern rock, classic rock, stuff like Allman Brothers and Santana, really anything that we used to like. We’ll play at the Argyle Grill once in a while when we get together a little more. We are currently calling ourselves “Silverstreek”, because we all have greying or no hair haha!”
See a picture of Chris and “Silverstreek” below.
About Eagle Vale Golf Course From Devincentis
I wanted to put the pro’s on the hot seat and asked them, What is their favorite and least favorite hole on their golf course was? This may be me doing my own homework to know which holes to look out for and which to take some chances on when I play them…
Chris’s favorite hole – “Most people like, or talk about the 15th hole here, but I think number 1 is a great opening hole with a little length and plenty of trouble to start your round. OB right, fairway bunker, bunkers and pond near the right side of the green, got it all!”
Chris’s least favorite hole – “I won’t say I have a least favorite, it’ll be on my mind every time I play here! One of the worst things you can do is psych yourself out of a hole. No thanks!”
To help get the Eagle Vale Golf Course info out there, the public rates for 2017 will be about $52 weekend and $46 week day at peak rate for 18 with a cart . They offer a VIP membership for $249 for the season. This gives players a savings of $10 per round played. This deal helps you with the more you play, the more you save. You also get enrolled in GHIN for free plus a free lesson. Chris says, “They obviously can save $15 with the Go Golf U.S. app but they can’t use it every time so we offer that as well.” Maybe they can’t use is every time, but they have at least three shots at Eagle Vale with out app!
Find Eagle Vale Golf Club online
Website – www.eaglevale.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/eaglevaleevents/
That concludes our March edition of “Meet The Pro” with Chris Devincentis. Next time you’re at Eagle Vale, say hello to this down to earth, fun and creative golf pro. Be sure to stay tuned for next month’s edition as well as other blog posts. Thanks for reading!