PGA pro David Sutherland gives a golf clinic Friday at El Macero Golf Course. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo


Sutherland presents 1st clinic; golf column on its way

By From page B1 | July 27, 2014

Every time a golfer turns around these past few months, it seems there’s more news emanating from El Macero Country Club.

First came the El Macero Classic featuring the UC Davis and Nevada men’s teams and some of the best West Coast collegians. At about the same time, it was announced that not only would that tournament return next April, later in 2015 the Big West Conference women’s finals also would be held at the local layout.

The country club recently elevated links pro David Knox to general manager when former boss Rich Riffle announced he was headed to another Troon Golf property in Florida.

A new short-game facility has been constructed for El Macero members and Aggie golfers (it will officially open within the next couple months), while Bruce Summerhays Jr. takes over for Knox next month as the course’s professional.

And this month we learned that former PGA veteran David Sutherland has hooked up with El Macero as “club ambassador.”

Meanwhile, Knox has embarked on a program that he hopes will make his club even more family-friendly while reaching out to the community — providing some public access to the 53-year-old facility.

While trying to keep up with the happenings at El Macero, I spent some time talking to men’s and women’s club members at Wildhorse and Davis golf courses.

I also sat down with Bryan O’Malley, GM at Wildhorse. I discovered he and head golf pro Wade Meneley and assistant Michael Paul had clinics aplenty, nifty teaching programs and a terrific idea for a three-course club championship (which Knox immediately got behind and thought it could be a relevant fundraiser for the Aggies, Davis High and all local junior programs).

At Davis Golf Course, Mark Hansen and Jerry Lilliedoll are chockablock with stories of days gone by, booked solid with tournaments and have a junior set-up second to none. Instruction is top-notch and their 18 holes continue to receive lots of TLC.

All this moved my boss, Sports Editor Chris Saur, to put in motion what we hope will be a welcome addition to The Enterprise — a regular golf column.

Saur and I concur that this effort is long overdue and we’re looking forward to making it not only a catch-all for tournament results, holes in one and announcement of clinics, but also a feature in which the pros at the various courses will provide tips, share some of those funny stories and alert us to the myriad functions on each facility’s calendars.

Saur expects the column to begin early next month. The honor of doing the writing (twice a month at first) rests with yours truly. It’s targeted for Tuesday publication dates.

We couldn’t be more excited. Maybe through reading my own writing, I’ll learn how not to rush my swing. One thing is for sure … The Davis golf community should have some fun with this new feature.

While I Have You Here: Sutherland, who is the director of golf for Sacramento State and coaches the Hornets’ women’s team, gave the first of his series of clinics for El Macero members Friday afternoon.

Despite oven-worthy temperatures pushing 100 degrees, almost 60 people attended the session. Sutherland was engaging and generous with his time while providing an easy-to-follow example of how to better chip a golf ball …

* Get the club angle right before gripping your wedge.

* Put the ball back in your stance; it helps avoid top spin that might get your ball running across the green.

* Hands should be neutral; don’t attack or reach for the ball.

* Practice chipping as much as one practices off the tee (and with the new El Macero short-game range, that will be a snap).

If I could follow what Sutherland explained, the real golfers in the crowd just got better overnight.

“I would encourage (anyone) to become a student of the short game, understanding exactly what’s going on (mechanically) with the golf club,”  Sutherland told his audience. “And as you do that, you’re going to get more confidence.”

He continued:

“If you’re a good putter, it’s going to make you a good chipper because you don’t have to chip as close to make a good putt. If you’re a good chipper, it’s going to make you a better iron player because you don’t have to hit it so close to make a par.

“If you’re a good iron player, it’s going to make you a better driver because you don’t have to hit it perfect every time. Being a good driver of the ball doesn’t help you at all at being a good putter.”

I got it. All these years, I needed to work backwards from the hole to improve.

“Then before you know it, you’ll start seeing better scores. Your handicap will go down. Of course, you’ll have more trouble making money from your friends when that happens,” Sutherland said with a laugh.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.

Bruce Gallaudet

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