Grad Recalls CPT As Important Step

Bryan Pirruccello When Bryan Pirruccello, a recent Professional Golfers Career College graduate, was approached by Randy Shannon, PGCC Temecula’s Director of Placement and Golf, about attending a press conference for the 18th annual State Farm Collegiate Players Tour, he happily agreed. “It was simple. Randy knew George Fisher, the man who was running the tournament, and asked me if I wanted to.” And just like that he was on his way to Empire Lakes Golf Course, where the tour would be making its California debut, to play a free round of golf with a slew of State Farm agents following the press conference.

“After learning about all of the details of the tournament, I thought it was a great deal and a chance to gain some experience.” he notes, quite simply, “I paid the entrance fee, and I was then registered to play.”

The cornerstone of the State Farm Collegiate Players Tournament mission statement is centered on providing enthusiastic support, and a venue, for young golfers to refine their competitive skill. It is designed to provide affordable, convenient, and above all, fun, summer golf competition for the college-aged men and women who participate. Collegiate Players TournamentThe focus is on summertime play because when spring dies down, and summer heat begins to punish golfers, it is easy to want to stay off the course and out of the sun. It also happens that in these moments it is more important than ever to stay focused and keep progressing.

Bryan recalls that participating in that competition further fueled his passion to play professionally. After the SF Collegiate Players Tour, he tried qualifying for the US Amateur at Big Canyon Country Club, in Newport Beach. “It was my first time playing the course and it was very difficult.” Difficult or not, he shows no signs of slowing, “I usually play in about 4 tournaments a year. The tournaments I play in are all qualifying tournaments for amateur events.”

Like every great player, he looks to the future with a guideline in mind. “My future plan as a player is to keep playing tournament golf and hopefully qualify for the US Amateur.” He also wants to play collegiate golf for Cal State Fullerton, where he is slated to graduate in 2014. With a fledgling amateur career developing, he understands that every shot works requires physical skill and acuity of vision, the latter of which can be the most difficult of all skills to master.

Empire Lakes Golf CourseAt the CPT his first two rounds were a little rough and, speaking to the importance of refining his mental game, he recalls a vivid memory. “Barry Rodenhaver, the Executive Director of the Collegiate Players Tour, made a bet with me right before the round. He wanted me to bet on myself, that I would shoot better than a 75.”

And what happened?

“I went out and shot a 72 to qualify for his national championship, held in Texas.”

Dennis Walters at The Legends Golf Club

Dennis Walters' Lessons on Golf and Life

The Dennis Walters Golf Show strikes an inspiring balance, with equal parts spectacle and sincere outreach Dennis uses his strength of character, forged in the wake of a fluke accident to drive home the importance of never giving up on your dreams. Your life’s purpose can sometimes have a funny way of finding you, in 1974, shortly after turning pro, Dennis was in a golf cart accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, which is why he is performs all of his shows, and executes each of his trademark shots, perched alongside his specially outfitted golf cart.

Dennis visited the Professional Golfers Career College to spend some time talking with students about the obstacles he’s overcome and how they can do the same with any challenge that arises in their path. The product of many years of tireless practice Dennis has mastered how to hit golf balls using everything from a radiator hose to a cell phone, but more importantly he’s mastered how to overcome mental obstacles.

After a Q&A with the student body the presentation was taken to the Legends Golf Club at Temeku Hills, for the trick-shot show that has become his trademark. Once on the course Walters can fully display the customized golf cart with a swivel seat that allows him to create a natural looking and feeling swing. On a sunny southern California afternoon students sat out and enjoyed the show, and Walters’ sidekick, Bucky, a dog that knows golf trivia!

At the end of the day perhaps the biggest lesson gleaned from his presentation is that with focus and dedication, nothing can keep you from achieving your dreams, and accomplishing what you set out for yourself.

Rickie Fowler's Right Hand Man

If you follow golf, and you've heard of Rickie Fowler, there's a good chance that you're familiar with Joe Skovron's work. Rickie Fowler's caddy since 2009, Joe also happens to be the son of PGCC Temecula's Country Club Management Instructor, Lou Skovron. Joe recently took some time out of his busy schedule to stop by the golf college and speak to our seniors about golf, and how he became a caddy for one of golf's youngest and fastest rising stars.

Joe Skovron at PGCC PGCC: Joe, there are different roads to becoming a professional caddy, what was your route?

Joe Skovron: My route was through competitive golf. I played competitively from 9 years old until I was 26. I played college golf at the University of La Verne, and played professionally for 3 years after I graduated. I got into caddying by accident.

It started when I would occasionally caddy for my mini tour roommate, Brendan Steele, at tournaments when I missed the cut. It turned into caddying part time for Brendan on the Nationwide Tour along with another friend of mine, Charlotte Mayorkas, who played the LPGA Tour.

Rickie [Fowler] asked me to work the Columbus Nationwide Tour event when he was still an amateur. That went well and it turned into my full time career when he turned pro that fall. ('09)

PGCC: You mentioned that the Ryder cup was probably the most exciting experience you've had to date. What was the highlight for you?

JS: The whole experience of the Ryder Cup was fantastic. From being in the locker room with the guys I looked up to as a kid, to the atmosphere surrounding the event, it was all pretty special.

I really think the way things unfolded in Rickie's singles match made the experience that much better. For him to come back from 4 down and halve that match to keep the US hopes of winning alive, that's pretty special stuff. I can’t really describe with words what those last few holes felt like. It’s something I will always remember.

PGCC: Replacing a caddy has been something of a hot topic recently. As a caddy you know that you can be replaced at any time, how do you deal with that kind of pressure and fragile job security?

Joe Skovron at PGCCJS: It’s definitely a reality in what we do. There is very little job security as a caddy. However, I don’t think you can caddy effectively if you are focused on that. I just go out every day and try to be the best caddy I can be for Rickie. I am always looking for little things I can do to improve, and make him as comfortable as possible over every shot.

While caddying doesn’t always have the best job security there are player-caddy relationships that have stood the test of time. My goal is for Rickie and me to have that kind of working and personal relationship that lasts for a long time.

PGCC: You have a line of really sharp golf apparel, Beyond The Links, how is that going? Do you have plans to expand?

JS: Actually, I recently sold Beyond The Links. It had gotten to a point where I couldn’t keep running the business while I was caddying. Beyond The Links was my passion at one time and I learned a lot of valuable lessons in my time spent building the company, but caddying has become my #1 priority and I want to keep it that way.

The new owner, Karl Schubert, is a friend of mine and a former college teammate. He is really excited about BTL and I wish him nothing but success with the brand. It would be very cool to see my vision become a reality at some point.

PGCC: You're caddying full time for a rising superstar, do you still make time to focus on your playing career?

JS: My playing career ended in October of 2007. In my three years as a pro I had some success on the mini/developmental tours, but not enough. My results were not where they needed to be to realistically pursue a career on the PGA Tour and I wasn’t making an adequate living off of playing golf. It wasn’t easy, but I hung up the clubs and haven’t looked back.

I have not played much golf the last couple of years but I was granted my amateur status again at the beginning of 2011. I plan on starting to play more golf in the future and maybe an amateur event here or there.

PGCC: As a former golf coach I'm sure you know a good deal about sports psychology. How does this influence your approach to caddying for Rickie?

Joe Skovron at PGCCJS: My background in golf, and sports in general, definitely benefits me as a caddy. I think it is very important to not only know the physical part of your player’s game but their mental habits as well. I think some guys get so caught up in numbers that they forget about the mental aspect of caddying.

These guys are on the PGA Tour for a reason. They were shooting low scores before they had a caddy. Sometimes it’s more important to say the right thing in between shots or make a joke at the right time then it is to give them 162 yards instead of 163.

In coaching and caddying, one thing I see as a constant is that the more your player enjoys playing the game the better the results will be.