Zach Abels - Canyon Springs Golf Course
Canyon Springs is one of the finest public courses in Southern Idaho. Located in the majestic Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho, Canyon Springs challenges players of all skill levels in a setting that rivals the best resort courses of the West. The micro-climate of the canyon allows the course to be open year around with only a few weather-dependent days in the winter months. Best of all, Southern Idaho is still one of the most affordable places to play. At Canyon Springs you will enjoy a unique experience, the priceless beauty of an exclusive setting, and affordable golf in a relaxed atmosphere.
How old were you when you got started in golf and what eventually pulled you into becoming a golf professional?
I started playing golf when I was 7 years old. My mom worked a ton of hours and needed a babysitter for me so the local public courses filled that roll. I was fortunate enough to meet many caring individuals that helped me along the way and allowed for my game and passion to develop. When I finished college my boss at the time sent me to Scottsdale to work for a winter and signed me up for my playing ability test. When I got home that spring I had a Nike staff deal and the rest is history.
How do you stay current with the latest developments in teaching methods?
There is so much content out there that it is almost hard not to. I have had the privilege to work with Dave and Ron Stockton and use a lot of their philosophies in my own game and teaching. With so many talented and knowledgeable instructors in the world today I try and read as much as possible. The PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit provides incredible access to teachers and ideas.
What are 2 trends in golf that you’re excited about?
I love the direction that golf instruction is going. Bryson and Wolff at the US Open was awesome to see how much the game has changed. Long gone are the days of teaching a system.
I couldn’t be a bigger fan of unbiased testing of all golf products. No more who pays the most for the presence on tours and ads in magazines. My Golf Spy has done an incredible job leading the way with showing consumers what they should be trying out for their own games.
Do you specialize in teaching any facets of the game?
I take a lot of pride in being able to help with the short game. I have been blessed with opportunities to work with some world class instructors and feel that I have been able to come up with a couple simple and easily applied tips to help with chipping and pitching.
What sets you apart from other golf professionals?
To be honest I don’t compare myself to other instructors. I know there are a lot of rankings out there and all of them are deserved for one reason or another. To be a credentialed teacher it takes a lot of time effort and knowing the correct people to open up doorways. I am a huge believer in the swing your own swing mentality that was popular with Mr. Palmer. I take a lot of pride in being able to adapt the golf swing to the player I am working with. The most important method is your own, when you stop learning you are falling behind!
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
The fact that I get to wake up everyday and positively affect the game of golf is always exciting. I have a growing number of very talented juniors that have a great opportunity for golf to take them to special places. With all of the craziness associated with 2020 lots of adults are picking up the game. I love seeing entry level players hit good shots and know they are hooked for life.
What has been your most challenging experience with a student and how did you handle it? How did you overcome it?
I hate watching anyone struggle, granted it is a large part of our game. When a die hard golfer is really struggling and frustrated it can be hard. The best way to overcome it is get back to the basics. Posture and alignment play such a huge roll in good repetitive golf shots and more often than not they get lost in the battle.
Do you actively play competitive golf? Any recent bragworthy performances you’d like to share?
Through the Rocky Mountain Section we have a very busy playing schedule. I have qualified for 3 PGA Professional Championships including the first year after I obtained my Class A status. I shot 62 at Ruby View Golf Course in Elko, Nevada during a large 2 day pro am and set the course record. I was fortunate enough to be playing with 2 of my all time favorite ams. Fun day for all of us to be a part of.
Is there a highlight from your career in golf that stands out above the rest?
I would have to say winning the Idaho State Jr when I was 17. My grandpa was very ill at the time he sat on the porch at Pinecrest in Idaho Falls for the 2 days of the tournament. Before I went out for the final round I told him to make sure there was room in the van to bring back a bag and trophy. After a 2 hole playoff I handed him my trophy and thanked him for everything he had done for me. I’m pretty sure he shed a tear and that was a lot for someone as tough as he was.
Any advice for someone considering pursuing a career as a golf teaching professional?
Crawl before you walk. Just when you think you know everything you need to step back and realize the world of instruction is a big ocean. Learn from others! Never pass up an opportunity to ask questions or shadow someone for a lesson.
Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
The game of golf has taken me to some of the most extraordinary places in the world. Never did I think when I was 7 years old that I would be able to teach anyone or play worth a lick. Now I am the president of MV Junior Golf Foundation. After 6 years we have given out $131,000 in college scholarships and funded programs at Canyon Springs that broke the 400 participant mark this season. I love everything about this game and you never know what opportunities it could present you with, DON’T WASTE THEM,