Mark Whetzel, Thanksgiving Point
High school: Taylorsville High
Years professional: 12
First pro job: Assistant at University of Utah golf course
Lessons: Yes — $60-75 (Also offered by director of instruction Joe Ruggiero)
Low round: 66 at Thanksgiving Point
Favorite courses: Pebble Beach at Monterey, Calif.; Torrey Pines at San Diego; Thanksgiving Point; Jeremy Ranch
Other members of dream foursome: Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones and father, Don Whetzel
Memorable golf moments: Learning the game with his father at the nine-hole Fore Lakes Golf Course in Taylorsville. Introducing the game to his 10-year-old and 8-year-old sons.
Advice for playing Thanksgiving Point: With Thanksgiving Point having some of the largest and most undulating greens in the country, try to hit the ball onto the right level of the green. "If you hit it on the proper level, you're going to have a good chance at making birdie or par. If you hit it on a different level, it becomes very difficult," Whetzel said. Also, play the proper tee box for your ability. Thanksgiving Point is monster long from the championship tees and even more than most golfers can handle from the blue or gold tees. "Most people who play here really should be playing the white tees. The experience is much more enjoyable from the right tee box."
Swing tips: Take the club back low and slow. "Which means low to the ground, which creates a bigger shoulder turn, and slow creates more of that one-piece takeaway. This incorporates the bigger muscles and makes for an easier swing."
Thoughts on the state of golf: Likes the efforts of the PGA of America to promote the game and introduce more people to the game. Also likes the advances in equipment that have made the game easier for the average player. "I know a lot of people are against those things that have made the ball go farther and the club being more forgiving, but those things make it more enjoyable for the average player, which is good for the game. If they want the golf ball to go shorter, then they should stick with that for the tour players. They shouldn't mess with what we're trying to do to promote the game and make it more fun."
Dislikes the time commitment it now takes to play a round of golf and the trend toward slower play. "The epidemic in golf is ready golf and pace of play. We have 15 and 16 handicappers grinding over a 3-foot putt like it's to win the Masters. And in my opinion, it's more of a player's responsibility than a course's responsibility. People just need to learn to play ready golf."
Note: This summer, local golf pros will be featured in the weekly issues of Utah Valley Life.