I have been living in the Valley for a year now, and I have played a LOT of golf. From Troon North Golf Club to Aguila Golf Course, I have played quite a few rounds of golf. People always ask me, “What is your home course?” Growing up it was Forest Park Golf Course in Brazil, Indiana. Now it is Papago Golf Course here in Phoenix, Arizona. The first time I played Papago I had no idea where to go… I was lost in a sea of green. Most courses out here don’t have rough. Papago does. They also have some of the best greens I have played on in years. The course is ALWAYS in great shape, and always proves a challenge even for a good golfer. Playing the course so much I have befriended golf professional and general manager Jesus Martinez. We have become friends playing golf together, drinking beer together, and one day we will play poker together! Jesus is a great guy, and a true professional. Golf needs more pros like this. I was sick of playing golf with him, and finally cornered him for an interview. Oh, and he owes me a putting lesson! It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Jesus Martinez.
What is your first memory of golf?
My first memory of golf is actually playing miniature golf on a field trip in Garden City, KS. I thought it was a dumb game. (Laughs.) Little did I know I would come to love this game so much!
How long have you been at Papago Golf Course?
I started working at Papago Golf Course on April 22, 2010.
There are a lot of great golf courses in the Valley. What are some of your favorites to play?
I really do enjoy our layout at Papago, but I do play at Dobson Ranch, Whirlwind, Ocotillo, San Marcos, and Encanterra. I have tried to play as many courses in the Valley as possible, but there are so many.
What is the best course you have ever played?
I would give this one to Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, AZ. It’s an exclusive private club, but by far one of the best course I have ever played.
I am having a hard time breaking 80 at Papago Golf Course. What is your lowest round out there?
Papago is difficult from the black tees, but we do offer four tees for men to play from. From the black tees my best score is 74 and from the blue tees a 72. I do not make a lot of birdies, but I do make a lot of pars.
I LOVE the driving range with the mountains in the background. Do you ever get sick of that view?
Never. In fact, any time I am having a bad day I am reminded how lucky I am by just looking at the Papago Buttes.
What is your handicap?
Being a PGA Class A Professional there is no one willing to give me strokes, so I have to play as a scratch. But I do get eight strokes in the Friday Dobson Skins game. I am yet to put a round together out there. I would estimate my handicap to be around a 5 or 6.
You attended Arizona State University. Did you play golf there?
ASU offers a Professional Golf Management program and is the reason I chose Arizona State. The ASU golf team is by far one of the best teams in the country and they recruit most of their players from all around the world. I was never that good. But I did learn my craft of running a business and learning to be a golf professional at ASU in the PGM.
Tell me about your experience at the Ochoa Golf Academy by Rafael Alarcon.
In 2009, I applied and accepted the position of Director of Instruction at the Ochoa Golf Academy por Rafael Alarcon in Guadalajara, Mexico. OGA had academies in Guadalajara, Acapulco, and Morelia. I was in charge of teaching at Atlas Country Club were we had the academy in Guadalajara. My other main priority was to work with Rafael and Lorena Ochoa in coming up with the teaching philosophy of the academy. Their plans were to build more academies throughout the world. In California you will find the Lorena Ochoa Golf Academy which is the name they chose to use in the US. While in Mexico, I flew to LA to introduce Goose Creek Golf Club instructors about how Rafael Alarcon had taught Lorena and what teaching philosophy he used. In case you don’t know, Lorena retired the top rated player in the world on the LPGA Tour and Rafael was her teacher since she was seven years old. Although, he didn’t really become here teacher until she went to college at The University of Arizona. Rafael played on the PGA TOUR himself and Lorena would follow him around at Guadalajara Country Club. Rafael knew early she was special and helped her when she was small with her game, but he didn’t consider himself a teacher, he was a player at that time. I learned a lot about competitive golf and teaching while working with Rafael. Living in Mexico was difficult for me and coming to LA made me realize I needed to get back to the USA. That’s when I found the position and Papago.
Were you at the PGA Merchandise Show?
No, I do not attend the PGA Show in Orlando. January is a busy time of year in Arizona. You WILL find me at the PGA Fall Expo in Las Vegas.
All things considered, your lesson rates are reasonable. Who sets those rates?
I set those rates. I gave approximately 1,100 golf lessons in 2008 at PGA TOUR Superstore. The foot traffic through the store was amazing, but our rates were also reasonable. I tried to find a middle ground between rates at the Superstore and rates charged by green grass facility instructors and that’s how I set the rates. Now, I don’t teach very much, maybe a lesson or two a week. My priority now is overseeing Papago’s daily operations and forecasting for the future.
Have you ever had a hole-in-one?
No. When I was in high school I played almost every day and at my home course Willow Tree Municipal Golf Course in Liberal, KS there was an 80 yard par 3; I hit it to 3 inches on many occasions but it never dropped.
They added golf to the Olympics. Do you think adding another team event to the calendar will affect how much events like the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup mean to fans?
I don’t think it will affect it at all. The Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup will always be prestigious events in the golf world. What the Olympics will do is introduce many new people to the game, which is great for the sport. I will say the US is a dominate force at the Olympics, but depending on the format it may be tough for the US. I know when I was in Mexico, there were coaches and golf instructors lining up to help train the Olympic golf team. I have found many of the other countries outside of the US are so much more accustomed to doing “Ryder Cup” style type of events. Clubs in Mexico often send teams to represent their clubs all over the world; it’s just what they do. In the US, I find golf is an individual sport more so than a team sport.
You have a sweet golf bag with your name on it. Do you use that bag, or is that one just for show?
Yes, I use my Titleist staff bag all the time. I am lucky enough to be an ambassador for Titleist.
Speaking of your golf bag, what clubs do you play?
I play the 913D3 driver, 909F3 3 wood, 909H 21 degree, AP2 4 through PW, Vokey SM4 52 degree, 56 degree, 60 degree, and Scotty Cameron Select Newport 2.
There are a lot of golf magazines out there. Do you subscribe to any? If so, which ones?
My favorite magazine growing up with Golf Magazine. Now I hardly read any of the magazines.
Let’s grab a drink. What can I make for you?
I drink pretty much about anything, but you know I would probably take a Bloody Mary on the course most mornings.
You listen to electronic dance music. Who is your favorite DJ? Do you have a favorite style?
Armin van Buuren is my favorite DJ. House music is more of what I like, but I like all types of music.
I am Tiger’s biggest fan. Do you honestly thing he will break Jack’s record?
I know that he can, but the competition on TOUR isn’t getting easier so it’s going to be tough.
Speaking of Tiger, did you read The Big Miss?
No, I’m not a big reader or Haney fan.
There are a lot of training aids out there. I am not sure if any of them work, but do you use any when you teach?
When I was at the PGA TOUR Superstore I was in charge of training aids. It was my responsibility to display them and to research them and teach the other instructors how to use them. My favorites were the Path-Pro because it has many uses. I also really like the I GOTCHA Ready swing weight.
I am still playing the same clubs I used in high school. Would upgrading my equipment help me lower my score?
Yes. You have a “consistent” motion with your swing so you should make sure you are fit for your clubs and could gain from some forgiveness. Unless you play all the time, like you used to in high school, technology can help you.
UPDATE: I have since been fit for new irons and purchase a new driver and 3 wood. I am still waiting on Jesus to give me a putting lesson so I can start making more birdies!
If I have a bad lie, I roll the ball. Basically, I don’t play by USGA rules. I have more fun that way. I also play the right set of tees based on how far I hit the ball. When you are just out there hacking it around, do you play by the rules? Do you think you know all of the rules of golf?
I always play by the rules, I don’t know how not to. But I don’t get upset with others if they give themselves a better lie if they are recreational or weekend warriors, unless we have money on the line… you better beat me fair and square.
Some people call it coaching while other people call it teaching. Is there a difference? What do you call it?
Yes, there is a difference. Teaching is when I am changing a golf swing or ideas about their swing. Coaching is when we are reinforcing those changes and just practicing.
I love watching golf on TV. Do you watch much golf on TV?
I do enjoy watching golf on TV; it drives my fiancé crazy. I have always loved watching golf and even more with Tiger is playing.
UPDATE: Jesus is now happily married! Congratulations, Jesus. Oh, and thanks for FINALLY introducing me to her. Nice to know she is real!
Do you do playing lessons?
I don’t do many at Papago as it is such a busy golf course. When I was teaching at Ochoa Golf Academy is was a very big part of our teaching philosophy. At Atlas Country Club they had huge trees; we would take the student into the trees and make them hit shot under, over, around trees to help with visualization. One the keys that made Lorena Ochoa such a good player is Rafael would make her hit those shots from the trees, so when she was in the middle of the fairway it was a cake walk, she knew she could make par from the trees.
There are a lot of certifications out there. Guys are AimPoint certified or TPI certified. Do you have any certifications? Do you think these certifications help a pro justify charging more for a lesson?
I was very in tune with certifications when I taught a lot, but now I don’t teach so I don’t pay to close attention. Yes, I do believe that a certified instructor should charge more and they have greater experience in teaching those certain methods.
Have you ever been to The Masters?
No, but I would love to.
You are pretty active on Twitter. You are also all over Facebook and starting to use Google+ more. What are your goals with social media? Have you seen much success since you started using social media?
I was actually on Facebook with my ASU.edu email when it was only available to college students. I enjoy social media to keep me current. I have found it to be a great tool to share with a lot of people with ease. I also use it a lot to find good poker games or poker tournaments in Vegas. I don’t think I have any goals with social media, but I will continue to use them.
Do you play any other sports?
I consider poker a sport, so that’s really about it. I hardly have time to play golf.
Let’s say I book a lesson with you. Explain that first lesson. Is it even possible to lower my scores with one lesson?
In the first lesson I would establish with the student what his/her goals are from the lesson or if they are interested in a package of lessons. You could see an improvement in your score after one lesson; it’s what I call a quick fix. can fix you by changing something, but it may not be a permanent fix. In other words a quick fix is a counter balance of what you are doing wrong, if you start to do something else wrong I would have to counter balance that. You can only do so much of that before you have to start from scratch. In a lesson package, we could really evolve your swing and make it as “consistent” and “efficient” as possible.
What’s next for Jesus Martinez?
I hope to continue my position as GM at Papago Golf Course. I really do enjoy what I do.
Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me, Jesus. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Thank you for the interview and I am glad you asked. I am a very lucky individual to be able to wake up each morning and have a true desire to go to work. When I am at home off from work, I often find myself thinking of ways to improve the golf course or how we do things, not from a “need” but from a “want” to work. I am also very lucky to work at such a beautiful place, great views and an awesome golf course. I am grateful for my family and friends who have been such a great support group for me. Don’t hesitate in asking me questions; I always enjoy talking golf or life for that matter, to me golf and life are one in the same. Thanks again, Ricky.