Q&A With Golf Pro Kurt Thompson
At 4,945 feet above sea level, Linville Ridge Country Club offers the highest elevation golf course east of the Mississippi River.|
With panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, golf at Linville Ridge elevates the game to an art form. Under the direction of golf pro Kurt Thompson, residents enjoy an unparalleled playing experience. Thompson joined the Linville staff in 2005, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience working at some of the country's most prestigious golf clubs. With the golf season now in full swing, Thompson talks about his background, philosophy and what he loves the most about Linville's links.
Premier Sotheby's: When did you develop your game and passion for playing, and then coaching, golf?
Kurt Thompson: I started in the golf business in 1998 and have loved every day since. I was fortunate to cross paths with industry leaders who helped shape me as a golf professional, as an instructor, and as a person. Being in the golf industry not only satisfies my desire to be involved in business, but it also allows me to develop relationships, and provide a quality experience to those who play Linville Ridge.
What is your coaching philosophy?
I was able to develop my game and teaching skills under some of the most respected names in golf. Bill Harmon, John McNeely, and John Buczek shaped my understanding of the golf swing and the manner in which I communicate with my students. All three gentlemen learned from Claude Harmon, who is arguably the greatest golf professional that ever lived.
My philosophy is simple, I want to take a student's best assets in their golf swing and make them better. I currently utilize TrackMan and feel that this technology could change the direction in the future of teaching. However, the ball flight gives me all the answers and is the starting point in leading a student in hitting more consistent golf shots. More often than not, one change can fix multiple flaws in a golf swing. I am fortunate to have learned how to dial into that one thing so that the student is not overwhelmed during a lesson. I strive to work with each student until their goals have been met so that they can enjoy the game for years to come.
How does your style differ with various skill levels?
I have had the experience of working with all skill levels, from beginners to PGA tour players. There certainly is a difference between an accomplished player and a club member. Although, even the best players may not be aware of the reason why they are not reaching their fullest potential.
My philosophy stays consistent with all skill levels but the manner in which I communicate with each level is determined by the student. Some students need to be handled in a softer manner and some need to be told directly and to the point. It's fun to evaluate each student and rewarding when you know you have really connected with their learning style.
What do you like the most about golf on The Ridge? What is unique about the course's high elevation, and does that effect the game?
I like the fact that you never get tired of playing 18 holes at Linville Ridge. It is a great golf course that challenges a low handicap player and allows higher handicap players the opportunity to have a great round. It is not often that a golf course can handle all skill levels but Linville Ridge certainly does!
Being close to 5,000 feet not only provides world-class views but it also gives you another 10-20 yards on the driver! Playing the game at 5,000 feet will certainly add yardage to each club. Typically, iron shots are a club less than you would find at sea level so it does take some time adjusting to the change.
Where should a beginning golfer focus more of his/her extra practice time? Driving, pitching or putting?
There is no question that a good short game can save poor shots. I realize that when students first pick up the game they often want to swing driver and see how far they can hit it. I always want them to have that opportunity but I stress that the short game needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If you look at some of the best players in the world, I guarantee that they spend more time on the putting and chipping green than they do on the practice tee. As the old saying goes, drive for show and putt for dough!