Interview with Matt Borocz, Head Pro at TPC Sawgrass

Getting to Know Matt BoroczAfter spending almost a week down in Florida for the 2010 Spring Golf Inc. Magazine Conferences, I had an itch to play some golf. Being down there surrounded by beautiful golf courses everywhere you look made it seem impossible to not have packed my clubs. So on the last day of the conferences we packed our things and headed to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida to see the TPC Sawgrass. This is where they hold the year’s fifth major, THE PLAYERS Championship. Guys like Phil and Tiger play here every year and the course has all sorts of history. Thanks to a phone call and some great conversations, we were able to tour the clubhouse and a handful of holes out on the course. I also had the chance to secure an interview with their head professional, Mr. Matt Borocz. He was gracious enough to answer all of my questions leading up to this year’s event and I am extremely please to introduce you to Matt here today.

How long have you been playing golf?

I started playing golf when I was six years old.  I would practice in our yard with my brother and dad.

What is your first memory of the game?

I would always practice around the house.  My first significant memory was attending the 1987 Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio with my dad, my mom and my brother.  That was the first time I received an autograph from the “Golden Bear” Jack Nicklaus. I also remember the European team celebrating their victory on the 18th green.

Did you, or do you currently, play any sports other than golf?

As a kid, I played soccer for six+ years, karate for six+ years and then I just wanted to focus on golf full-time.  I also snow skied throughout middle school and high school.  In High School I played four years of varsity golf.

Ever had a hole in one?

Still waiting on one.

What is your lowest round you have ever shot?

My lowest 18-hole round in competition is a 72 when I was junior in high school.   I consider myself an average player.  Since I was about thirteen years old, I knew that I wanted to become a PGA Club Professional.  I love/enjoy being around the golf course.

What about the highest?

Not sure, only focus on the positive rounds.  I’ve learned a lot since my junior golf years.  Now that I do not play as much, I enjoy the game much more.  It is a privilege to play, no reason to get frustrated.

How many rounds a week do you play?

Very good question. It fluctuates based upon business levels at the club.

So, you might be working for one of the nicest and most talked about courses in the game. What is like working for the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course?

I am honored and privileged to have the opportunity to be employed at TPC Sawgrass.  It is a very special place being the home of the PGA Tour and The Players.

I am sure you have had the chance to meet many of the games great players. Anyone stick out more than another?

I had the opportunity to meet Phil Mickleson in the Champions Locker Room after his 2007 Players victory.  I also had the privilege to meet Tiger Woods at the 2008 “Tee It Up with Tiger” presented by Nike Golf.

I told myself a few years back I am not allowed to die before I have a meal with Tiger Woods. Have you ever had the chance to sit and chat with Tiger? (Note that I am his biggest fan. I will argue that with anyone!)

As I mentioned above, I had the opportunity to meet him on the 10th tee of the Trump National Golf Club LA.  I was impressed with how he took time to say hello to each participant in a sincere manner.  A very cool experience!

Where are you originally from?

I am from Strongsville, Ohio. It is a suburb of Cleveland.

You seem to work with a bunch of really nice individuals including your general manager Mr. Bill Hughes. Tell me what it’s like working with a team of well-oiled machines like Mr. Hughes.

That is a very good question.  It is a privilege to work around such a passionate/dedicated group of people.  Everyone on our team is focused on creating a magical expereince for our members and guests.  Everyday Bill comes with a “Can Do” positive attitude.  He is always trying to bring the best out of individuals, department and club as a whole.  There is never a day that Bill does not bring a 100% passion for TPC Sawgrass and PGA Tour.  I’ve been extremely blessed to have a great group of PGA Professionals that have been mentors to me.  They taken an interest in my career and have been a tremendous help along the way.  I hope I can have the same impact in my career.

How many balls have you hit in the water on hole 17?

Only positive thoughts…do not count.

What are you doing during the week of the Player’s?

Our #1 goal is to offer a memorable expereince to our PGA Tour players and their families.  My goal is to support the golf operations and the Players Championship Team.

So I want to come back to the club and play a round with you and Mr. Hughes. Any chance we can make that happen before the year is out?

Please let me know when you are visiting the Jacksonville area.

What is in your bag? (I am talking everything from the driver to the putter and everything in between.)

907D2 driver, 906 F2 3-Wood – 15 degree, Titleist Hybrid 585-H – 19 & 24 degree, Titleist AP2 Irons, Vokey Wedges 54 and 60 degree, Scotty Cameron, Studio Select Newport 2, Titleist Pro VIx (Initials – MEB), Titleist Players Glove, Foot-Joy Shoes – Dry Joys and Icons. That’s everything!

How much TPC Sawgrass merchandise do you own?

The majority of my clothes have the TPC Sawgrass logo.  There is no reason to shop at another store.  Our golf shop has just about everything available to the customer.  Recognized as Best 100 Golf Shop by Golf World in 2009.

You look to be pretty young. When did you first become a pro?

When I was eleven years old I started at Columbia Hills Country Club as a caddie.  That same year I was practicing at a local public course. (Pine Hills Golf Club)  The PGA Head Golf Professional saw me on the practice range.  He asked if I wanted to work for free golf and a sleeve of practice balls per week.  I took the job right away, shagging golf balls on the range every Saturday and Sunday.  After two years, I was promoted to work the golf carts as a starter.  I worked at Pine Hills for seven years and completed my first college internship at the club.  I started at Coastal Carolina Univeristy, Conway, South Carolina, in the fall of 1998.  In 1999 I had a very lucky break and had the opportunity to work at TPC Myrtle Beach.  I started on the practice facility and moved up to the outside operations department. My senior year of college I was offered a full-time position as Assistant Golf Professional.  In 2004 I had the opportunity to interview at TPC Sawgrass for the Assistant Golf Professional position.  In December 2005 the Head Golf Professional left for a new opportunity.  At that time, I had the opportunity to improve my knowledge and develop my experience as a golf professional.  My goal was to increase my value in the TPC Network and hopefully prepare myself for a Head Professional position in the TPC Network.  I was very lucky to have people that believed in my abilities.  I have been very fortunate to have a team that supports the core values and club mission.  In May 2007 I was promoted to Head Golf Professional.

I graduated from Coastal Carolina Univeristy, BSBA in Marketing speciliazing in Professional Golf Managment.  Elected to PGA of America membership in May 2004.

Who is your favorite PGA Tour player?

When I was a kid, Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples.  Now, I have an interest in the local players that call TPC Sawgrass home.  Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Fred Funk, Frank Lickliter and the other thirty some players that live locally.

How many days a year can you actually play golf in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida? (They say you can play 360+ days a year in Scottsdale. I just want to compare!)

The TPC Sawgrass (The Players Stadium and Dye’s Valley Course) is open 365 days per year.

I can’t afford it, but what sort of benefits do members get?

TPC Sawgrass Social Club Membership

The TPC Sawgrass Social Club Membership provides you with access to bring guests to TPC Sawgrass for breakfast, lunch and casual dinner service in Nineteen and access to Champions, the formal, members-only dining room, for dinner. Benefits include exclusive, member-only pricing, a 20% discount on a la carte and wine by the bottle menus for parties up to eight. You’ll also receive a $300 credit towards food and beverage purchases to be used during the annual term of your membership. Social Club members will also be able to enjoy occassions by invitation, such as wine dinners hosted by renowned wine makers, themed dinners, events and holiday functions.

When it’s time to play the game, Social Club members will have access up to forty-eight in advance to The Players Stadium Course or Dye’s Valley Course with a 10% High Season discount and a 25% Summer Season discount. Other Social member discounts include 20% savings on merchandise in the full-service golf shop and a 20% discount at the Tour Academy. In addition, both you and your spouse will enjoy charge privileges at the TPC Sawgrass.

You may upgrade to a Social Associate Membership for an additional $450, which allows you to book golf fourteen days in advance for members appreciation rates. The member’s first round of golf on The Players Stadium Course is included with this upgrade.

TPC Sawgrass Social Club Membership

Annual dues are $500 for a one-year membership.

Dye’s Valley Annual Pass

As a Dye’s Valley Course Member, privileges will be extended to your spouse and dependent children up to the age of 25, and is non-transferable. Annual dues are $2,400*. Renewal dues are billed annually.

Members play for cart fees only when playing Dye’s Valley and receive member appreciation rates when playing The Players Stadium.

* Member pays cart fee only on Dye’s Valley Course

* May make starting times up to 10 days in advance on Dye’s Valley Course and

*7 days in advance on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course

* Accompanied guests pay 25% less than current seasonal guest fee

* May bring up to seven (7) guests when playing; Guests in member’s foursome will receive 25% reduced rate

* Engraved bag tag for new members

* Dining room and banquet facilities available for daily use or private and group functions

* Use of practice facilities; Practice balls are supplied when playing a round of golf

* Use of daily lockers during your visit

* Forecaddies, Double bag and single carry caddies available upon request

* Members receive a 20% discount on dining, Golf Shop merchandise, and TOUR Academy Lessons, club fitting, and repair

Member Appreciation Rates when playing The Players Stadium Course:

* Bring one to three paying guests, Member pays $50 golf fee.

I just can’t get over the fact that you are the head pro at the TPC Sawgrass. I want your job!

Thank you – It’s an honor and privilege to carry the tradition of TPC Sawgrass.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would be very happy with being the Head Professional at TPC Sawgrass.  I think it’s a position that should have stability and consistency.  My next career goal is to be a General Manager with the TPC Network.  I would like to accomplish this in five to eight years from now.

What do you, as a professional, want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

Another very good question. Give back to the game that has been very good to me.  Recruit, hire, and train PGA Professionals for their next career step.  Hopefully they will filled prepared and ready for their next opportunity.

I always let the bands that I interview get the last word. Why not you? Go.

What do you enjoy most about your blog writing? And why?  What are your career goals and aspirations? Thank you for including me on your blog and enjoy the Players!