New CPGA Professional
by Scott A. Sumner
Northwestern Ontario Golfing News
Matt Halwachs,born in June 12, 1984 became Northwestern Ontario’s newest CPGA Professional on June 12, 2007. What a birthday present for the young man who started playing golf at the Little Falls Golf Club at age 12 in Atikokan Ontario.
Matt was raised in Atikokan and then went off to the University of Manitoba for 11/2 years. “ I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so found a job, dropped out of university and then pursued the golf career out in Kelowna for a few years. I did my Professional Golf Management schooling in Lethbridge Alberta,” states Matt Halwachs, Pro Shop Manager, Back Shop Manager and Asst. CPGA Professional at the Whitewater Golf Club. “ When I was 10 or 11 I started to watch golf. My uncle played golf then and gave me a couple clubs and I started swinging them around. I got my first full set of clubs for my birthday when I was 12 and played lots at the Little Falls Golf Course.” Previously Matt worked at the Okanagon Golf Club- The Bear and the Quail under Dan Matheson, then Head Professional and now General Manager. This is where Matt did his summer internships for the Professional Golf Management Program.
“ In the winter I went to school in Lethbridge at Lethbridge College taking Professional Golf Management. Over the course of two years you get your Business Admin Diploma and in the third year you specialize in golf working towards getting your Class A Professional designation. I completed this course in the spring of 2007.”
June 11th and 12th in North Bay at the North Bay Golf and County Club will be days to member for Matt. “ The number you needed to score to gain your Pro CPGA designation was 155 after two days of golf. It doesn’t seem like a lot but when you have the pressure of you career riding it is a little different. If they have more than 10 participants in the tournament they take the top 30%. This year with only 8 you had to shoot 155 or less,” smiles Matt. “ It was grind from the first drive to that last putt rolled in at the finish. I was not really nervous, it was one of those two day stretches when your golfing doesn’t want to show up and go as planned. Maybe it is in the back of your mind what’s on the line.”
“ The first day I wanted to shoot 75 to give my self some breathing room so I didn’t feel up tight the final day. Unfortunately I shot 79 the first day which was the low score by two shots. I now knew the second day I had to shoot 76. That’s the positive part, you know what you have to shoot and even as much as you don’t want to think of it you do. The second day had a wind change which changes up all your club selections. My driver was a little wayward so it made the golf course much tougher,” noted Matt. “ The course was set up at 6100 yards, shorter than the white tees here at Whitewater, but the greens were lighting fast and undulating. hitewater’s are 7 on the stempmetre and they were 10 or 11 in North Bay,” stated Matt. “ My caddie was my little brother, Zack who is 19. I wanted somebody to caddie for me who I play golf with quite a bit so I would be more relaxed. The playing companions in a tournament like that are quiet because they are focussed on the task at hand. I wanted to talk to someone as it keeps me relaxed.”
The last day Matt started with bogie so had 3 shots left for 17 holes to make the number. He parred 2 and 3 and then decided to hit driver on 4, his only driver of the day and made double bogey. Matt now had a 1 shot buffer for 14 holes. He hit a poor tee shot on the next hole, but rolled in a putt and birdied the next. The number to shoot was 38 on the back nine and Matt started the two easiest holes, 10 and 11 with bogie, bogie and 0 shots left with the last 7 holes remaining. Incidently they were the hardest on the course. I didn’t leave any breathing room to make it easy on myself. It as a grind. I parred 12 to settle myself down a little, birdied 13, maybe the hardest hole on the course and then gave it away again on 14 issing a short putt making a bogie. That meant I had to par in to get my card. I made par on 15 and 16 and on 17 I told myself to give myself a putt to make a birdie. My second shot I hit right to the out of bounds stake but to my luck I stayed in by 6 inches and I managed o hit it on the green to make par,” noted Matt. “ The 18th hole is the definition of target golf. You have to hit it between 200 and 220 yards and then over the ravine, over the water, to an elevated green. I hit a 4 iron off the tee right into the trees and had no swing. You could hack it out over the water but I told my brother I wanted to layup and give myself a chance to make par. I chipped it out 30 yards, hit a 9 iron up the hill to about 20 feet on the green and rolled in the up hill putt my longest of the tournament. The monkey was off my back. It was also nice to have my brother there by my side to celebrate and was pretty good birthday present for my 23rd birthday.” Beside his younger brother Zack, Matt has two older half brothers, Chris Halwacks who lves in Thunder Bay and Todd Halwachs who passed away when he was 11.
Matt is now a CPGA professional and can pursue his Class A Professional status by taking some additional courses. “ In my future right now when I am young, I want to pursue the golf thing and hopefully catch a break somewhere as I have met some good people in Kelowna and here. I do like it here at Whitewater. It was tough to leave the Okanagon out west which is similar to Northern Ontario but I wanted to come back closer to home for a couple summers and was fortunate to get a job at Whitewater,” smiles Matt. “ Whitewater is a beautiful golf course in really good shape. I love the members and there is less hustle than in the city. I play three or four times per week if I can. You can have work a lot in my job with the some very long days."
Playing at Whitewater now the young pro will shoot between 72 to 6 off the gold tees. “ I don’t practice on the range as bad as that sounds. We like to practice on the course. I didn’t think fitness was important in golf until Dean Sprittle, golf coach got me into it. You don't know how much fitness actually improves your golf game until you actually do it. I go to the gym 6 times per week for 1 1/2 hours.
My brother and I work on legs, upper body and then abs with some cardio for 15 minutes to get warmed up. We usually go after work at 10 or 11pm,” notes Matt. “ It is nice to work under Rob here at Whitewater who has seen a lot of the industry in Ontario. I don’t know if I will back to Whitewater next year as perhaps I might be in Australia. Last year my brother and I went to Europe for two months and we really enjoy travel. I do know I would like to be more on the business side of thegolf as a general manager as I have always liked the numbers side of things, ever since high school.” Congratulations to Matt and best wishes in your golf career.