We wanted to take a break from the tips and reviews, introducing you to one of our PGA Professionals on staff, Rudi Fann. We hope you enjoy getting to know Rudi, one of the faces of our blog, better!
What made you decide to get into golf?
One of my great childhood memories was going to my grandparents for a week every summer. My grandfather and Uncle were both great players and I started out getting to play with my uncle on the “course” he created in the yard played with plastic golf balls.
The course my grandfather was a member at had a 9 hole par three and he started taking me there when I was old enough. This progressed all the way to the “big course” and solidified my love of the game. I then started as a cart boy at my local course so that I could play and have been in the business ever since.
Describe the process of how you became a Class A PGA Professional.
While going to school at NC State, I worked at a local golf course as a cart attendant to make a little money and play free golf. One day I came into work and the assistant golf professional had put in his two weeks notice. I had already felt the pull of becoming a PGA Professional and this just solidified my decision. I was offered the job pending becoming a PGA member.
The first step, after registering, was to take the PAT (playing ability test) which involved playing 36 holes and shooting a target score or better. After the PAT, I had to go through 3 levels that involved working through a book of work experience activities involving every aspect of golf course operations. Upon completing the activities for one level, which typically took from 1 to 2 years, I sent in the book to be evaluated.
Once it was approved, I traveled to Port St Lucie, Florida to take tests on each subject. If you passed all of the tests, you stayed for the rest of the week to attend seminars to kick off the next level. If you did not pass any of the tests, you could not advance and had to either stay the rest of the week or pay to fly home early and sign up to re-attend at a later time to take the tests again. While the vast majority had to retake at least one test, I was lucky enough to pass them all the first time, at all three levels.
I moved from NC to Puerto Rico for a year and a half, then out to California for jobs, so it took me 8 years to move through the 3 levels. At the third level, after the tests are passed, the last things to do are a mock interview and a presentation on the subject of your choice. I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment when I finished the interview and was later presented with my completion certificate that evening. A few weeks later I received my PGA card in the mail and was officially a PGA Class A member.
What’s been your favorite memory golf memory?
It is so difficult to pick just one. The game has provided so many great memories. One that sticks out once again revolves around my grandfather. One summer, he invited me to play in the member-guest at his course. Granted it was because his original partner had to back out and finding a replacement at that time was not possible but in my mind, it meant I had arrived. Keep in mind I didn’t even have a driver’s license yet so it was a big deal to me.
The first day, I par the first three holes and am feeling great when he looks at me and says, “You are supposed to play the better round on the second day, we are going to end up in the championship flight if you keep this up.” While things quickly came back to reality for me, it was a great weekend. Needless to say, I did not get the invitation the next year as his regular partner was back in the mix.
What’s the favorite club in the bag, currently? Ever? Why?
When I am giving a lesson or talking about the game to people, they often ask this question. My standard answer is, “Your favorite club in the bag should always be the one you are using for your next shot.” That being said, my favorite club of all time was a King Cobra 3 wood I had with an X100 shaft in it. I am talking back in the Greg Norman days with the punch marks on the face. For whatever reason, I could absolutely kill that thing and have never found anything I was that confident in since.
What’s your lowest round? Ever got an Ace?
My lowest round ever was a 65 that I shot at the course I worked at in California. While it was one of those days where almost everything went right, it is amusing how even on a day like that, I immediately thought of at least 4 shots out there that could have gone better. It seems no matter how great you play, you always immediately identify the misses. No one thinks about the chip in or 50-foot putt that went in during the round.
In regards to an ace, I have never had one in over 30 years. What makes that worse is the fact that twice, I have hit a tee shot out of play on a par three only to tee up for my third shot and hole it out from the tee for par. When people ask me that question, I always point out the fact that I have had 3 double eagles, a 2 on a par 5, which is statistically rarer than a hole in one (and you don’t have to buy drinks after the round)!
Describe an easy tip people can practice at home.
If I was to give one piece of advice for people to practice at home, it would be to learn to swing the club and not to try to hit the ball. It sounds counterintuitive but the biggest mistake I see in golf swings is an attempt to hit at the ball. Think of the process as swinging the club and the ball getting in the way.
Along with this is learning your personal tempo. Think about going for a walk. Some people mosey along in no real hurry taking in the sights and others are straight from point A to point B. Your swing tempo should match your natural tempo. This can even be seen on Tour when comparing someone like Ernie Els and Nick Price. The key is to match the tempo of your backswing with your downswing. I see people all the time take the club back extremely slow only to lash down at the ball as fast as possible. This throws the whole swing sequence off and leads to less than optimal results. Make swings with your eyes closed, or even try hitting balls with your eyes closed, so you match the tempo.
Thanks for the interview, Rudi! If you have a question for Rudi or one of our other PGA Professionals, you can click the image below to send an email. They’d be happy to help any way they can!