I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the Head Golf Professional at Queenstown Harbor, Mike Sabol. We talked about everything from his background in golf to tips for the “Average Golfer” to improve. Below our his responses:
“One of the most scenic and challenging golf experiences located just outside Washington, D.C., Queenstown Harbor features 36 holes of championship golf on two unique layouts – The River and The Lakes. Spectacular Chesapeake Bay waterfront beauty and superior service make for an unforgettable round at Maryland’s premier golf destenation. Enjoy spectacular Bay views and superior amenities at Queenstown Harbor on the Eastern Shore waterfront.” Taken from www.qhgolf.com.
AGG: How did you get into the business?
MS: I played on my high school golf team and fell in love with the game. I had always played basketball or baseball, but when I found out that I could turn golf into a career, I was sold. I went to Penn State and earned my Bachelor’s Degree and moved to Maryland after graduation. I had a good friend from PSU that was working at South River and let me know of an opening at Queenstown for an Assistant Pro. I interviewed, got the job and here I am today 9 years later.
AGG: What is your favorite hole at Queenstown (one from both courses)?
MS: For The River, I would have to go with # 5. With the new green that was completed and opened last Spring, I couldn’t think of a prettier spot to soak in The Chester River than from the back of that green. For The Lakes, I like #17. Normally I wouldn’t pick a Par 3, nor one that wouldn’t be listed as the most scenic, but it’s just a great golf hole. It’s long, there’s trouble everywhere and being on that green in regulation in no way guarantees a two putt.
AGG: If you had to pick one, what hole represents Queenstown the best?
MS: I’d have to go with #5 on The River again. From the tee you can see just how well the course is manicured by our Superintendent and his team. The edges are tight, the rough is thick and healthy and the fairways are striped. As you approach the green, the skyline starts to appear behind the green complex. You can see the towers of the Bay Bridge, then the shores of Kent Island appear and Rock Hall in the distance. It’s truly a special spot on the course. It’s nothing new to see a Bald Eagle soaring over The Chester or a heard of deer meandering in the tall grass along the shoreline. It’s a hole that truly embodies all that Queenstown offers in your golfing experience.
AGG: What would be your dream foursome?
MS: I would always have to start with my brother and father. We rarely get to play together and there’s no better way to spend four hours with your family. That only leaves room for one more and it’s got to be Arnold Palmer. I grew up in Pittsburgh and if you played golf in Western Pa, you most likely tried to swing it like Arnie at least once and it most likely didn’t turn out quite as well as it did for him.
AGG: Besides free time to play, what is the biggest hurdle for the “Average” golfer to improve his/her game?
MS: I think the hardest thing for people to realize is that change in your golf game is not easy. Typically anything that works right away doesn’t work for too long. Unfortunately, it takes time and trust that you are on the right path to improving your game. Keep in mind that you may actually get worse before you start to get better. Just make sure that you are staying consistent in whatever improvements you are working on.
AGG: What is a good routine for the “Average” golfer to put into effect on the range to make his/her limited practice time efficient?
MS: Practice how you play. I always tell my students, it’s not how many balls you hit, but rather how many good swings did you make. In other words, it’s not just hitting balls until you wear out your glove that’s important, but making a swing that has a purpose. Always have a target and try to recreate the pressure that you will feel on the course. For instance, I’m not stopping until I hit three 6 irons in a row to a certain target or 5 consecutive drives that start on my target line. Simulating a little pressure on the range will help you transfer all that hard work to the course.
AGG: What do you love most about the game of golf?
MS: I just love the challenge that it presents day after day and year after year. You can never conquer this game and just when you think that you’re really starting to figure things out…WHAM! The golf gods bring you back to reality. The Scotts like to refer to the game as the “great leveler” and they couldn’t be more correct.