Tuesday, August 17 – Pro-Am Championship presented by TOTEM Steel
“You can pick my brain in the next five minutes, there’s really not much there,” Bob Gilder jokes upon introduction. He’s standing on the tee box of the 10th hole, waiting for his group of amateurs (Rick Parker, Jim Lovisco, Tracy Skidmore and Jim Bounds) to get there so they can play. Several minutes later they arrive, laughing and chatting, and after a quick group picture they’re ready to go.
Gilder tees-off first, the ball flying into the blue if a bit cloudy sky. Although some professionals rely on the type of ball they use to make the shot, Gilder believes that it’s the clubs that change the game of golf.
“Clubs are so individual,” he explains, “the same putter can feel completely different to different people. It all depends on what you feel comfortable with, that’s the kind of club that will work best for you. Years of experimentation are the only thing that can get you to that point, though.”
Gilder has had plenty of years to experiment with the kind of clubs he prefers to use, as he began playing at the age of nine at the golf course his parents belonged too.
“Being ten or eleven, what’s more fun than to go outside on a summer day with your buddies and hit balls as hard as you can? We just messed around a lot.”
Eventually, that messing around led to something more serious. But before it could get to that point, he had to mess around with a few other sports as well. In high school, he played sports all three seasons- football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and golf in the spring. So why did he choose golf?
“I chose to focus in on golf when I was in college. I loved everything about football, but I was too small to continue playing,” he confesses.
Looking at him now, however, one wouldn’t be able to tell that he was ever unfit to be involved in an athletic event. He certainly shows his strength in his drive, which he says averages about twenty yards short of the best drivers in the Champions Tour.
“When I watch TV and see golfers like Tiger Woods drive 300, 320 yards I think, ‘I swing the club that hard too, why don’t my balls go that far?’” Gilder laughs. “I still think of myself as a hard-hitter. I think I’m a little bit in denial.”
The rest of the group chuckles with him. They’ve been doing this since the first hole, and it’s not surprising either. With Gilder’s warm personality and slightly sarcastic sense of humor, he brings a certain spark to the golf course.
That spark is what has brought him this far, and is what will continue to take him places. If he’s lucky, it’ll take him all the way to the winner’s circle at the JELD-WEN Tradition this week.