Chewelah Golf Course and Country Club head golf pro Jason Pitt doesn’t try to keep an eye on the scorecard. Which is a shame because he probably has some doozies.
“I try not to show much emotion,” Pitt said. “Tiger Woods pumps his fists and gets the crowd into it. That kind of approach never really worked for me. My golf mentor told me that when you hit a putt, people shouldn’t be able to tell if you made an eagle or a double bogey.”
It’s this kind of even-keel attitude that allows Pitt to enjoy what he does all the time – play golf – and play it well. Pitt is currently on his way to upstate New York for the PGA Professional Championship for golf pros. The top 20 club pros will automatically get a spot in the upcoming PGA Championship. This comes after Pitt tied for eighth place at the Pacific Northwest Sectional last September at Canyon River Golf Course in Missoula, Mont.
The national tournament is taking place at Turning Stone Resorts Atunyote and Shenendoah Courses in Verona, New York. It’s the second time that Pitt has been to the national tournament, going in 2012 when he tied for first at the PNW tournament at Circling Raven in Spokane and went to nationals at Sun River Golf Course in Bend.
Beating out hundreds of area golf pros for a spot to nationals, and competing in a very exclusive club of talented golfers – it’s hard to imagine that Pitt’s first sport obsession was baseball. Pitching through his youth years, he came to golf relatively late while attending Mead High School.
“My best friend was the worst golfer on the varsity and he was a six handicap,” Pitt said. “I was a 12-14 handicap so I knew I wasn’t going to make varsity.”
But Pitt stuck with the sport and played amateur tournaments at age 18 and 19. He came to work for the Chewelah Golf Course in 1999 and became the head pro in 2005. Pitt said growing up in the Deer Lake area meant he took plenty of trips up to the Sand Canyon golf course.
“They kind of took a risk with me since I was still going through my PGA certification when they made me the golf pro,” Pitt said.
Chewelah’s Golf Course and Country Club provides a nice mix for Pitt, who also owns the pro shop in the clubhouse. Pitt said he really enjoys the Country Club members, but also likes how it’s open to the public which means he gets to meet and see different faces.
“Honestly I’ve really fallen in love with it here,” Pitt said. “It’s a cool beautiful place, and for a town of 2,600 it’s amazing all the things we have out here.”
Pitt said he also enjoys how the country club’s board of directors encourages him to play these tournaments. Some different golf courses wouldn’t be so willing to have their pro play in tournaments and rather just see them behind a desk shaking hands.
Pitt can be found behind the desk in the clubhouse, but he’s always looking for ways to get out on the course. Realizing that for the national tournament he’d be walking 7-8 miles a day, Pitt made a point of losing some weight and getting in shape. Pitt also has been coming out to the course early – sometimes as early as 4:50 a.m. in the morning so he can get 18 holes in before work.
And that’s where he wants to be. Pitt said he gets way more out of playing rounds of golf than hitting on the range. He said it gives him more situational awareness and keeps his brain more engaged in the game than just beating a bucket of balls.
“I think my biggest advantage is my noggin,” Pitt said. “I try to never get mad, or yell and making a big stink. Nobody likes to play with the guy that does that. People never remember the score but what it’s like playing with somebody.”
Pitt has honed this mental stretch after many a car rides from tournaments, with some good results and others having frustrating results. It’s a grinding and tough game, Pitt admits, and you just have to be focused on the next shot.
The next shot for Pitt will be on June 23 when he begins three days of practice rounds at the national tournament. The tournament begins on June 26 and after two days, there will be a cut before the final two rounds.
“My goal is to play seven days of golf over in New York,” Pitt said.
Pitt is going over with two of his best friends and they plan to take in a New York Yankees game and a Mets game while he sports his Mariners Robinson Cano jersey. One of his friends, Chambers Bay Mens Club Champion Clark Mather, will also serve as the caddy although they’ll have to brave several miles of walking a day in 90 percent humidity.
“It’s cool that my friends are coming along and I have an accomplished player to caddy for me,” Pitt said.
The Chewelah country club members have been very supportive of Pitt, something he’s very appreciative of, as people have pitched in money for the trip. Now all that’s left is keeping score.
“I feel like I’ve been hitting the golf ball the best I have in my life,” Pitt said. “With golf, you just got to keep believing and taking it one shot at a time.”
By Brandon Hansen/The Independent Staff