You have seen him around the course. Maybe you have taken some lessons from him or had the chance to interact with him at a clinic or some other event at the club. Those brief encounters are not enough to get to know someone and so we thought you would enjoy getting to know our resident pro, Denver Dafoe, a little better. He was kind enough to share his story with us and we are sharing it with you.
How and why did you become a golf pro?
My golf career started when I was a young boy (age 5). My neighbour introduced my father, brothers and me to the game. He would invite us out to the golf course down the road which just happened to be Muskoka Highlands. I instantly got hooked on the game and every day I would hop on my bike first thing in the morning and ride to the course. I would end up not leaving until 8 at night. I spent every moment I could at the course. Throughout all this practice, I began to compete in tournaments and had a successful junior career. From the age of 16-17, I had to start and focus on what I wanted for a career. Mathematics and physics always appealed to me. I wasn’t entirely set on this as a future study though because I am an outgoing individual. I cannot stay seated for an extended period of time. As all my friends left for their post-secondary pursuits, I decided to stay back and work on the course for my 4th year. I quickly decided that my whole life has been surrounded by the golf industry and it was something I was passionate about. I then decided that money isn’t my biggest necessity in life. I thought to myself that golf is my “calling”. I’ve had a talent and a dream to always go big with it.
During that year off, I applied to Georgian College for the Bachelor of Business – Golf Management. I was accepted within a week and started learning the business and teaching aspects of the golf industry. I am now going into my 4th and final year at Georgian and am thinking about doing my Masters in Sports Administration.
My first year of college I played on the varsity team and decided that the level of competition wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I then decided to turn professional, being able to improve the games of others to their optimal performance level while challenging my own personal game with other great players.
I am now in my second year being a professional and have taught over 200 lessons, 10 ladies clinics, 21 Golf in Schools, 50 junior clinics and 36 junior camps. I have a passion for improving the games of others and allowing them to get the “ah ha” feeling of hitting the perfect shot. There is no greater satisfaction in my life than seeing personal development, improvement, and the smiles and laughs on peoples’ faces when they hit a “pure” shot that is like no other.
I know I am a very talented golfer, but I am unsure how far my playing career will take me, I have dreams of participating in a PGA Tour event as well as the Web.com Tour. However, if this doesn’t work out as planned, I will be just as happy because I will have given everything I have. I can then focus on helping others achieve their dreams and ambitions related to golf and sports performance.
The steps to becoming a golf professional weren’t too difficult for me. I first contacted the PGA of Canada, asking them about the steps to become a member of the association.
I then began to plan on how I would tackle each module involved in joining. The first thing that was crossed off the list was my PAT (Playing Ability Test). This is where you must shoot under a specific 36-hole score. I was exempt from this requirement because of the results of my amateur golf tournaments, making the process easier.
I have now crossed off a few teaching seminars and club fitting seminars. All I have to complete is the learning seminars based on management. When I graduate next year, I should receive an exemption through my education.
What do you like/love the most about golf and the least?
Golf is a game of chasing satisfaction. You are never satisfied with the score because you always want to improve and pursue the next best round. It’s a constant need for improvement. This is the thing I like most about the game.
It’s an individual sport where you are the only one in control of the outcome. There is a constant thought process that can tear you apart or pull you together at any given moment. This feeling of struggle is the best because you must fight for what you want, it doesn’t just come. It takes constant pushing and self-motivation to pull yourself through to the desired results. The game is also a very “lonely” game. By that I mean you are stuck with your emotions which allows you to discover what type of human being you are. Are you a quitter? A fighter? Confident? Scared? The feelings that one goes through allows them to sink into self-discovery and self-awareness which help grow the individual into who they are.
I love everything to do with golf – the people, being outside, the struggle for improvement, active living, etc. The only thing I would recommend improving in the golf industry is the pace of play. At many courses I visit, it takes over 4 ½ hours to play. I know many individuals, including myself, who can play 18-holes in under 2 ¾ hours. I think a lot of people do not have the time for golf because of this concern. If people found out about the effective/efficient ways of playing the game, the pace of play would speed up, making it more popular and enjoyable for many.
Tips for the pace of play:
- When looking for a ball, you should only search for 30 seconds. If you don’t find it by then, move on, they make golf balls everyday.
- When taking a cart, drive on one player’s ball while the other gets out and walks to theirs. You can still have communication, just keep it to the riding in the cart and not during the swing.
- Clear the green quicker. Mark the score on the next tee block – not the green
- We aren’t on Tour – you don’t have to take 5 practice swings and 3 minutes to hit every shot, we aren’t playing for the “big bucks.”
- Do your practice/routine while someone else is hitting
- Tee it forward – don’t play tee decks that you cannot handle, leave your ego at home.
- Play ready golf
A perfect round of golf means __________.
A perfect round of golf is different for everybody. For me, it means good company, lots of laughs and smiles. The weather doesn’t have to be perfect, the course doesn’t have to be the best, and you don’t have to play the best round. For example, I played a round of golf with my buddies from school in the pouring rain at an average course and even lost a $100.00 to one of them. Most people would think that’s a sad day of golf. However, this is one of the most fun rounds I have ever had. We caught up on things going on in our lives and past experiences we had. Constant laughs and jokes were going on. What made this round so much fun was the fact that we were dumb enough to play in terrible conditions and laugh about everything that happened that day, whether or not it was a lousy shot done by one of us or something silly that someone did. I believe the best rounds come from having good company and being in a relaxed, fun, laughing environment.
There are a lot of clients I have that are brand new to golf. Most of them are older in age. The one constant message I always hear from them is “I wish I started when I was younger.” Everybody that starts promptly realizes how much fun it really is. You regularly see self-growth and self-improvement.
Most individuals that aren’t playing the sport are missing out on all the social interactions they can have. They are missing physical activity, being outside with nature, and a different style of fun and satisfaction. It’s incredible to see how much one can improve or enjoy something that they have never tried before. They are missing a game that they can be playing their entire life that is always changing.
Does it hold networking or business value for them and their career?
Golf holds great value for business because it allows for networking. With most rounds being 4+ hours you can get to know individuals over the course of the game. It also allows you to learn what type of individual they are. Some people are quick to snap after a bad shot, while some laugh it off. It gives insight into what kind of person you could be doing business with in the future.
Is it just plain fun?
Fun all depends on the individual you are. It is easy to have fun out on the course while it is just as easy to be upset and not enjoy yourself. Golf is best when people are relaxed and aren’t always focused on shooting their best score. Too many people focus on the outcome instead of the experience. I believe Bruce Lee’s quote “It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you’ll miss all that heavenly glory.” This is related to any experience in life. It’s not about getting to the end of the road but more about the experience of the drive. I see too many individuals get tied up with their score instead of the experience. I recommend all golfers, new and old, focus on the little things like the laughs, the company, the course, the views, the time being away from work, and the weather. Golf can always be fun, it depends on the individual to make it fun!