An excerpt from an interview with PGA Professional Stan Utley at the Unites States Senior Open Championship in Omaha, Nebraska.
Q. How much tournament golf do you play now?
STAN UTLEY: This was my fifth round this year, maybe, keeping score. Is that a good answer?
Q. Have you played in any other tournament this year?
STAN UTLEY: I’ve played in, I played in two qualifiers to play like a Monday qualifier for the Champions event, and then I played in the qualifier to get in here. So that’s it.
Q. Are you teaching that much, takes up much of your time?
STAN UTLEY: Well, I’m trying to, so my focus is helping people with their golf games. And it’s fun to try and compete and play a little bit, but I know that’s not my main job, and I have my kids in high school. So, you know, I would rather be there for what they do than chase playing golf, aside from what I already do, teaching and working.
Q. Stan, how much of what you do now, teach people their short game, how much did that help you today?
STAN UTLEY: Honestly, I think the big contributor to today was a month ago, I got to go spend four, five days with my brother and my dad. And it had been so long since I had actually had a short game lesson, and particularly my putting feels much better than it did last year.
Last year, I played six events, and I wouldn’t say I putted bad, but it never felt like I wanted it to. And so, you know, it was kind of fun to get to hang out with, you know, the ones you love and the ones that know what you looked like a long time ago and kind of get tuned up.
Q. What are their names?
STAN UTLEY: My dad is Frank Utley. My brother is John Utley. My brother John is a professional golfer and a college coach at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. So that kind of I think all of us that play at some kind of level, you know when your game’s decent enough, and so that helped me feel better about my game.
You never know whether you can go shoot a score or not, and I did not play very pretty today. So it was a total scramble, but it was fun to get through.
Q. Do you think what they imparted upon you was more of a mental thing than actually what you were doing?
STAN UTLEY: No, it was all physical.
STAN UTLEY: It just, I had gotten away from the way I stood over the ball from a long time ago, and we all creep off, you know, what works into what feels good, and sometimes, that isn’t the same thing. And, you know, when you’re not focused on your game and you’re not getting help with your game, that’s easy to do.
Q. Most of the field would take your score today. What do you think about it?
STAN UTLEY: I was thrilled. I was. I kind of looked at the golf course, and there are holes that you can hope to make birdies on, and I hoped to make four or five birdies, and I made two. And honestly, I hit a couple of those holes, I hit the wedge shots kind of the way I wanted to, and being uphill and you can’t see the pin, a couple of them came up short.
And I was posing and I was waiting for the clap, and there was no clap. And I’m like, that’s short or long, but it ain’t close.
Q. How long have you been with Ping?
STAN UTLEY: I resigned with them January 1, but my whole majority of all my career has been with Ping and Titleist, and there’s been the last eight or ten years where I was solely a Titleist guy, and I got a chance to go back and represent Ping on the club side, and I’m still a Titleist guy forever.
And it’s kind of a natural thing in that I live in Scottsdale and the company’s there in Phoenix and I can go hang out over there and try to be an asset for them as well as play their great clubs.
Q. Tell me what wedges were in your bag today.
STAN UTLEY: I have i20 irons, and so I’m carrying a Uwedge at 48 degrees and an Swedge at about 52 1/2. And then I have the Gorge 60degree wedge.
Q. Those other wedges you mentioned are i20s?
STAN UTLEY: Yeah.
Q. Any special grinding on your wedges or anything in particular?
STAN UTLEY: Barely. Barely, yeah. Just barely. I like the leading edge of my sand wedge pretty straight so just barely took a tiny bit of the roundness out of the front of it. But that’s about it.
Q. That putter was notched in. Is that a Ping putter?
STAN UTLEY: That’s a Ping SW putter.
Q. Do they still sell that putter?
STAN UTLEY: You’re asking some hard questions.
Q. I know.
STAN UTLEY: That’s just the one that I’ve used a really long time. So I don’t know that that one’s in the store.
Q. 36 inches length?
STAN UTLEY: A little more than that.
Q. Really? Didn’t you used to use 36?
STAN UTLEY: Yeah, but I when I dug this one out of the closet and I knew I had used it in the past, I assumed it was 36 inches, but the truth is, when we measured, it was a little longer than that.
STAN UTLEY: So –
Q. As one of the early finishers, is there anything different in terms of this course today that you encountered as opposed to when you played practice rounds?
STAN UTLEY: Yeah, the greens are turning brown, and so they have the brown spots are hard, and the spots that aren’t brown aren’t hard. So it’s already getting to the point where the bounce you get is completely different one foot to the next. You can pitch it on the brown spot, and it takes off. And you can pitch it on the green spot, and it still reacts the way it did the rest of the practice rounds.
And I honestly I played a couple wedge shots coming in that I thought would kick, and, you know, particularly 17, Brian and I both we knew we might need one more club, but we flew it up on the green, and the ball’s backed up. And it’s into the wind so it’s not like but it was late enough in the round we weren’t planning on any balls backing up. So I think the greens will change a lot if it stays not too humid.
Q. Could you mention some of the greens?
STAN UTLEY: They putted perfect, though, as far as the speed, you know. I think they got the speed in a beautiful place. It’s not scary, but it’s you got to pay attention going downhill.
Q. Can you mention some of the touring professionals you’re working with now?
STAN UTLEY: Not so much. I’d rather not.
Q. Rather not, okay. Do you work with anyone on your long, your full swing?
STAN UTLEY: Yeah, a whole bunch of guys.
Q. A whole bunch of guys?
STAN UTLEY: And that’s probably the most amazing thing about, as I transition from player to teacher, I began rubbing elbows with the best teachers, and it radically changed my golf swing, and so I mean, there’s so many guys that have influenced me greatly.
Jim Hardy and Mike Adams, particularly, I would say they gave me great definition of what I need to be doing. My friend, Rob Akins in Memphis, he hosts a charity event, big ProAm for Le Bonheur Hospital, and he brings in top 50 teachers, and so I was there the day before it started, and we were in the hitting bay with his son hitting balls, and it was Rob, Kip Puterbaugh, Tom Ness, a couple other guys were in there, and it was like Lake was hitting balls, Rob’s son, and I was like okay, Lake, get out of the way. It’s my turn.
And I got up in front of the computer and the cameras, and I said you guys give me a lesson, and it was fabulous. So that was only two or three weeks ago that I got and what they said was what I already knew, but it was like confirmation, and it was it helped me realize I can’t do what I’m working on too much, and I didn’t do it very good today, honestly.
My son, Jake, knows what I do and I don’t do well, and about halfway around, he’s like you’re moving off of it too much. When I sway my head to the right, I don’t hit good shots. And that’s exactly what they told me, and so it was fun to get a great lesson from my buddy Rob, you know, who I haven’t seen him for a golf lesson in years, but he just, he told me the perfect thing, and that’s kind of been what he said’s been my thought for the last month or two or three weeks, at least.
Q. Do you practice?
STAN UTLEY: I don’t practice hitting golf balls. The last three or four days before I came here, I hit a lot of chips. That’s mostly what I practiced.
Q. How good a player is Jake?
STAN UTLEY: His scores in high school this year were 41 or 42 or 43 through nine holes.
Q. Is he 16?
STAN UTLEY: He’s not quite 16.
Q. Is that a new Ping driver?
STAN UTLEY: Yes, brand new this year. I played the same one. They built me one driver. It was awesome. So I haven’t changed drivers.
Q. So that is the, that’s the G25?
STAN UTLEY: Yeah. All my woods are G25. Woods and hybrids.
Q. What’s the loft of your putter?
STAN UTLEY: It’s probably 5 degrees.
Q. I mean, I’ve read that you advocate more loft. Is that-
STAN UTLEY: No, I advocate the right amount of loft for you to roll the ball.
Q. For each golfer?
STAN UTLEY: That’s right. I happen to be a guy with my hands forward so I would need more loft. That doesn’t mean you need more loft.
Q. You determine that for every student who comes?
STAN UTLEY: I take a look at them, yeah. Thanks.
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