Pinehurst News

A day in the life with Kelly Mitchum — and the Golf Channel

Pinehurst’s Kelly Mitchum is interviewed by A Golf Channel production crew for a segment in “The Road to the PGA Championship,” which will air at 2 p.m. on July 29 on CBS. (Click to enlarge.)

Those who have followed the PGA Professional National Championship already know the news. Pinehurst Resort lead golf professional Kelly Mitchum not only qualified for the PGA Championship, he tied for second at the Bayonet Course in Seaside, Calif., at the end of June.

But “The Road to the PGA Championship,” a program produced by the Golf Channel that will air at 2 p.m. on July 29 on CBS, will keep its more uninformed viewers in suspense as it follows the story arc of five competitors at the PGA National Championship.

And Kelly Mitchum is one of those featured competitors.

A three-man crew from the Golf Channel – Co-Producer Eric Morris, Director of Photography Steve Derstine and Sound Mixer Joel Tower — spent the day at Pinehurst Resort on Monday, July 2, gathering footage and conducting interviews for Mitchum’s segment. What follows is a diary of those initial production stages that took place Monday.

June 27-24 What begins as a field of 312 golf professionals hoping to earn a trip to the PGA Championship ends with just 20 players – only 6 percent of the entrants – actually punching their ticket to The Ocean Course at Kiawah, S.C. The PGA Championship will be played from Aug. 9-12.

While Derstine and Morris are working the field at the National Championship for The Golf Channel’s live national broadcast of the event, they know they are also gathering footage for the program they’ll be working on just a week later. They shoot a lot of the players who are on the cut bubble from as early as the second round. Mitchum, who stays near the top of the leaderboard for most of the tournament, doesn’t cross their paths often.

Until Monday.

7:30 a.m. After driving from Jacksonville, Fla., the night before, Derstine and Tower arrive at the Pinehurst Resort Club, where they meet Morris, who flew in the day before from New York. The crew hauls in a large HD camera, two wheeled dollys to move the camera around, a large tripod and other equipment. Tower has a bag that carries the technical sound equipment and a case for the large boom microphone he will set up for interviews.

“Anytime we can drive, that’s a good day for us,” Derstine says. “Flying? With this equipment? No thanks.”

7:55 The crew grabs a golf cart and heads to the Pinehurst Golf Academy, where Mitchum will be helping with the junior golf school. It’s a prime opportunity for the crew to gather footage of Mitchum in his element at Pinehurst.

8:11 Near one of the school’s putting greens, the crew sets up the camera and some light sound equipment adjacent to the practice range. A line of about 5-7 junior campers come out to work on their full swings. Mitchum talks to each of the campers individually, working up and down the line with suggestions and drills. This is just what the crew is looking for, and the three of them know it.

They will stay in this spot for nearly 2 hours.

“It’s perfect,” Morris says. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

But it will get better.

Director of Photography Steve Derstine and Sound Mixer Joel Tower gather footage as Pinehurst’s Kelly Mitchum works with junior golfers at the Pinehurst Golf Academy. (Click to enlarge.)

9:58 a.m. The campers take minimal breaks here and there, but the crew takes a water break with them this time. For 15 minutes, they huddle under the roof of the Golf Academy, shaded from the morning sun. It isn’t hot – yet.

10:14 Morris takes a quick minute to speak with Academy Director Eric Alpenfels, one of Golf Digest’s Top 50 teachers in the country. Morris wants a sit-down interview with Alpenfels talk about Mitchum’s impact on the club, the Academy and the man himself. They arrange to meet at 11:30 right after Alpenfels sends the campers to lunch and before the mower comes out to work on the range.

“I don’t know if it will make it to air,” says Morris, “but you never know.”

10:35 Mitchum and the kids are back out on the range. Again Mitchum goes through each camper, one-by-one. None of them are beginners, but they vary in skill level. Mitchum takes a hands-on approach, holding one camper’s club and moving under and around him to mimic the correct swing path. He makes a complicated move appear effortless, and the results are evident after a few more swings.

“All right! That’s it!” Mitchum hollers.

It’s no surprise that the crew has inched closer, and taking the camera on smaller, shorter mount, they have become more mobile.

“This is great stuff,” Morris says.

As they became aware of Mitchum’s personal approach with each individual camper, the crew moved closer and closer for better angles and sound. (Click to enlarge.)

10:46 The crew moves directly behind 14-year-old Austin Lavitt, of Rye Brook, N.Y., as Mitchum works with him. Not only is the kid working one-on-one with a pro headed to his fourth PGA Championship, now he has a professional camera crew behind him.

“It was interesting,” Lavitt says after a sigh. “I was just trying to stay focused on my swing. That was…interesting.” Lavitt heads to the water cooler.

11:07 After trying a few different angles along the range, the crew moves past the range and to the left of the putting green. Here they will set up Alpenfels’ interview.

Out comes the large tripod again and Derstine and Tower go to work assembling three white square-shaped screens. They are called silks, and they help reduce shadow under natural light. Derstine won’t use any electric light equipment. “We could’ve gone inside the clubhouse,” says Morris, “but it’s so danged pretty out here. We’ll just set up shots outside.”

11:36 Alpenfels is fitted with a wireless lapel mic and sits in a chair opposite Morris, who will not be heard or seen on camera. Outfitted in a Masters hat, bright yellow golf shirt and khaki shorts, it’s a good thing.

11:40 Morris goes over the questions before starting the interview. He tells Alpenfels that where this segment is expected to air in the program, the results of the top 20 will not be known yet. “I’ll prompt you in a way that keeps you from mentioning that Kelly’s already made it,” Morris says.

The magic of television — with Pinehurst Golf Academy Director Eric Alpenfels. (Click to enlarge.)

11:44 In less than 4 minutes, the interview is done. Alpenfels asks whether he needs to go over anything again. “There was a part I stumbled little,” he says.

Not a problem, according to Derstine. Morris agrees. “The magic of television,” he tells Alpenfels. “It’s amazing what can be done these days.”

Noon The Academy pros have already headed for lunch with the campers. After breaking down the interview setup, the crew will join them in the Donald Ross Grille.

1:05 p.m. The crew is setting up again, this time for Mitchum’s interview. They are on the left side of the Academy’s range, angling toward one of the Putter Boy logos on the large white door. Everything is back in place. All they need now is Mitchum.

1:21 He comes out donning a navy blue Pinehurst golf shirt, khaki pants and a Titleist cap. His easy smile and laid back demeanor make for easy banter with the crew. The four of them wait as a practice green is watered in the background of the shot. (“It’ll only be 5 minutes,” Mitchum says. “Got to keep them watered.”) As that task is finished, Mitchum walks to the approaching range cart gathering practice balls, asking that the driver stay on the opposite side of Maniac Hill for the next few minutes. The driver happily obliges.

One might think this is a job for the producer. Mitchum, though, does it without even being asked. Anything he can do to help.

1:32 The outdoor shot is tougher than it looks. Temperatures have spiked to well over 90 since breaking for lunch.  And while the silks provide shade, they also reflect sunlight to eliminate shadow. “Hey, anything you guys can do to make it a little brighter out here,” Mitchum jokes.

The star — comfortable in front of the camera. (Click to enlarge.)

1:35 They start the interview, again with Morris informing Mitchum about the program’s intent on suspense.

Mitchum is a natural.

1:36 “It’s every golfer’s dream to turn professional and reach the PGA Tour,” Mitchum says. “I played on the Nike Tour, the Canadian Tour and went through Tour school a few times. About that time I realized that this was a tough way to make a living.”

1:37 “I quickly found that teaching was the thing I really wanted to do.”

1:38 “I’m able to teach full time and still be able to slip away and play in a few tournaments here and there.”

1:39 “It’s fun to see that beginning player get the ball into the air for the first time, and it’s fun to see that junior golfer win his first tournament.”

1:40 “Pinehurst is a special place. The history and tradition speaks for itself, and when you walk down those halls and see those old photos, you know it’s special. I’m proud to work here.”

A light breeze causes one of the silks to flutter during one of Mitchum’s last answers. Derstine and Tower exchange looks, and Tower shrugs his shoulders.

1:45 The interview done, Tower inspects the silks. There’s a tear down the left side, revealing a small hole. “A sound mixer’s nightmare, right Joel?” Derstine says. “I’ve asked for a new one for a while,” Tower responds.

1:54 Morris and Mitchum meet briefly to discuss gathering some of Mitchum’s family photos together. After all, Monday marks Mitchum’s 17th anniversary with his wife Maria.

“Well, this is one way to remember it,” Mitchum says.

The shot. (Click to enlarge.)

2 p.m. Mitchum heads home to pick up the photos for Derstine to shoot. The anniversary angle is a good one for Morris. The day of shooting could not have gone any better. He has Mitchum working with kids, and at 5 p.m. in front of the famous Putter Boy statue, he’ll get an interview with Mitchum and his wife.

The piece is coming together.

“We’ll probably have about 2-3 hours of footage, not including what we shot at the tournament,” Morris says.

How long will the segment be?

“Total?” Morris asks? “About 4 minutes.”

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Are you right or wrong on the practice range?

Pinehurst’s Maniac Hill. Photo from thedanplan.com

For some of us, the idea of hitting the practice range can be soothing. Usually, it’s an opportunity to either work on your game or get some quick prep work done to warm up for the first tee of that day’s round.

But there’s a reason that “beating balls on the range” is something of a cliché in golf. Sometimes it’s hard, grueling, exasperating work as we try to refine our games for a passion that no one, it seems, can master.

Whatever your motivations for spending some time on the range, you should know that there is a right way to practice, and a wrong way.

And both ways are being done at Pinehurst.

This time, though, we’re not talking about mentality or swing plane or time management. We’re talking about what happens when you reach your club toward that shrinking pile of range balls. Those innumerable times you direct your club to position your ball for your next shot. (Let’s call this process “lie rotation.”)

You know how you always make yourself a nice lie? Well, there’s a right way to do it, and a wrong way, and it can do wonders for not only your club, but your fellow golfer as well.

The USGA’s Ty McClellan recently put together a wonderful piece titled “Practice Like a Pro.” It is full of rich detail and provides plenty of science behind the proper practice techniques to limit the number of divots on a driving range. If you spend any amount of time on a practice range, go read it. Now. It will change how you practice.

McClellan writes that practicing in a linear pattern – making divots in a straight line, then leaving a line of turf in between a second line of linear pattern divots – allows for the range to readily recover much faster than leaving a large patch of voided turf from your barrage of practice shots.

The photos on McClellan’s piece illustrate the do’s and don’ts and why’s. And it all makes perfect sense.

And what’s interesting is that both ways – the right and wrong ways to practice – are being done right there on Maniac Hill.

To wit:

A recent patch of divots done in the circular, or sideways, motion.

A recent pattern of divots in the linear fashion

These photos are from last summer. They come from recent range sessions, and both photos are right there between the ropes designated as the practice tee area for that day. One leaves the large, wide patch of exposed earth from divots being made in a sideways or circular motion of lie rotation.

The other, though, comes from someone who clearly knows what he or she is doing. There are the linear paths.

So how does this hit home at Pinehurst?

Here’s the evidence:

A recovering patch from the circular divot pattern.

These photos were taken just a few steps back from Thursday’s practice area. Notice the distressed area from a past circular motion of lie rotation. It’s taking some time to recover.

A few steps to the left, right along the same line, is the linear method. It’s clear how much better and more quickly the turf is recovering.

The linear pattern of divots is recovering nicely — and quickly.

Now imagine if everyone on the range used this method.

Maniac Hill might be a little more sane.

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Pinehurst Resort’s Kelly Mitchum Earns Another Trip To The PGA Championship

Pinehurst’s Kelly Mitchum

Pinehurst Resort’s Kelly Mitchum Earns Another Trip To The PGA Championship

Mitchum finishes second at PGA National Championship to reach the major championship for the fourth time

SEASIDE, Calif. – He’s in.

Again.

With his wife Maria and son and daughter watching from the friendly confines of the Pinehurst Resort Club, Kelly Mitchum put the finishing touches on a brilliant week of golf on Wednesday to qualify for the PGA Championship for the fourth time in the last nine years.

Mitchum fired a 71 to finish at 5 under and in a tie for second at the 45th PGA Professional National Championship, punching his ticket for golf’s fourth major championship of the season, which will be played at The Ocean Course at Kiawah, S.C. from August 9-12.

Making his first trip to the PGA Championship since consecutive appearances from 2004-2006, Mitchum finished eight strokes back of winner Matt Dobyns, who shot 70 to finish at 13 under to win the national championship in his first appearance. Rod Perry had a 69 to tie Mitchum at 5 under.

As his family and several of Pinehurst Resort’s fellow golf professionals watched the Golf Channel broadcast on a television located inside the clubhouse – merely a soft pitch from Pinehurst No. 2’s 18th green — Mitchum had two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine to make the turn even for the day. He made a birdie on 11 and another on the par-5 finishing hole around a bogey to climb to second place.

Mitchum is no stranger to contending at the national championship. A lead instructor and Class A member of the PGA of America, he has played professionally on the Nike Tour, the Canadian Tour and various mini-tours. His most recent accolades include winning the 2004 and 2006 Carolinas’ PGA Section Championships, 2003 and 2005 South Carolina Opens and the Carolinas’ Section Player of the Year honors for 2000, 2004 and 2005. Over the past three years Mitchum has played in 10 PGA Tour events, as well as the three PGA Championships.

Fellow Pinehurst pro Todd Camplin, who made the national championship cut for the second straight year and earned a berth in the PGA Championship a year ago, shot 76 on Wednesday to finish the tournament in a tie for 64th.

The PGA Professional National Championship is for golf club professionals and teachers who are members of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. It has been held by the PGA of America since 1968. The PGA Professional National Championship is usually been played in late June, six to seven weeks before the PGA Championship.

 

 

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112th North and South Amateur Championship — Meet the elite

PINEHURST, N.C. – The goal is obvious.

No player entered into the 112th North and South Amateur Championship is coming to Pinehurst without dreams of adding his name to the distinguished list of champions. The longest consecutive running amateur championship in the United States, the North and South’s prestige has long been well documented, its past champions among the most recognizable and celebrated names in the history of golf.

Before one of them etches his name in history on July 7, here’s a chance to get to know a few of the top players entered into the field.

JIM LIU

16, Smithtown, NY

The Player: The No. 1 collegiate prospect for the Class of 2013…Committed to play at Stanford…Four-time U.S. Kids champion (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006)…Broke Tiger Woods’ record when he became the youngest winner, at 14, of the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2010…Ranked 8th among top U.S. amateurs….Shot 59 at 9 years old at Plantation Junior Golf Tour event…Ranked No. 5 in Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings…Has four runner-up finishes in 2012.

What he’s saying: “Pinehurst has a storied and rich history. It’s courses have hosted numerous major amateur and professional championships. When you realize all of great moments in golf that have occurred at Pinehurst, it makes playing such courses something special. Also, with great practice facilities and eight great courses, Pinehurst is a golfer’s dream.
“The championship will play long and tough, especially in the heat. I think that you will need to pace yourself well and limit as many mistakes as you can to get into match play, because match play can be anyone’s game.
“ It will be interesting to see how the new (old) layout will play. The character of the course is completely different, and it will be a challenging test because it is new to everyone.”

DAVID ERDY

22, Boonville, IN, College: Indiana

The Player: Runner-up at 2011 North and South Amateur, falling 5 and 4 to Jack Fields…Graduated from Indiana in 2012…Will be making his third appearance at the North and South…Qualified for the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black…Grouped with stars Lee Westwood and Zach Johnson… Finished his stellar Hoosier career with IU’s sixth lowest career scoring average (73.61)…Named Academic All-Big Ten in 2011…Named All-American Scholar in 2011…Named Big Ten Golfer of the Week (March 21, 2012).

DAVID MILLS

20, Evansville, IN, College: Indiana

The Player: Reached second round of match play in first appearance at North and South in 2011…Rising senior at Indiana…Shot 7-under 63 to qualify for the Nationwide Tour’s United Leasing Championship, which is played a week before the North and South, beginning on June 28…Shot course record 62 during high school conference championship tournament…Finished 4th at 2012 Big Ten Golf Championship…Named to 2012 Big Ten All-Conference First team…Father Rick will caddie.

TAE WAN LEE

17, Orlando, FL

The Player: Born in Seoul, Korea…Member of the 2009, 2010 Korea National Team…Ranked 27th on the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings…Had first hole-in-one at age 9…Four top-6 finishes in 2012…Runner-up at Western Junior and Terra Cotta Invitational…Father Yeong Cheol Lee will caddie.

DAVID LEE

17, Houston, TX

The Player: Committed to Southern Methodist…Tied for second at PGA Junior Championship last August…Ranked 34th on the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings…Runner up at AJGA HP Boys Championship…Has had 12 hole-in-ones, including six in 2008…Made match play round at 2011 U.S. Amateur…Scored ace at 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur…Won U.S. Open local qualifier in 2011.

PETER WILLIAMSON

21, Hanover, NH College: Dartmouth

The Player: Ranked 29th in Golfweek’s Individual Collegiate rankings…Finished 5th in 2012 NCAA Central Regional…Three-time Ivy League champion, including 2012…Runner-up at 2012 Philadelphia Big 5 Invitational…4-time All-Ivy League…4-time Ping All-Northeast…2012 Byron Nelson Award Finalist…Winner of Dartmouth’s Kenneth Archibald Award for best all-around athlete with regards to Academic standing and moral worth…Named Ivy League Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in 2009.

What he’s saying: “Winning at Pinehurst with such a rich history and competitive field would validate my continued growth as a golfer.”

CURTIS THOMPSON

19, Coral Springs, FL, College: LSU

The Player: Sister is LPGA Tour star Alexis Thompson…Has forged his own path in golf… One of the nation’s premier prep prospects for the Class of 2011 … Emerged as one of the most highly-recruited prospects nationally after winning medalist honors in the stroke play competition at the 2010 United States Junior Amateur Championship held at Egypt Valley Country Club in Grand Rapids, Mich. … Fired rounds of 4-under 68 and 6-under 66 for a 36-hole score of 10-under par 134 to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the match play competition at the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur … Won medalist honors by one stroke over the defending U.S. Junior Champion Jordan Speith of Dallas, Texas … Went on to qualify for the Round of 32 in match play … Also qualified for the match play competition at the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship held at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. … Signed with LSU as a Top 25 recruit in the country for the Class of 2011 by both the National Junior Golf Scoreboard (16) and Golfweek Junior Rankings (24) … Was also the No. 51-ranked recruit nationally for the 2011 signing class in the Polo Junior Golf Rankings … Also ranked among the Top 100 junior golfers in the country regardless of class in the National Junior Golf Scoreboard (24), Golfweek Junior Rankings (42) and Polo Junior Golf Rankings (89) … Was the No. 3-ranked recruit in the state of Florida for the Class of .

MIKE MILLER

20, Brewster, NY, College: Penn State

The Player: Reached second round of North and South match play in 2011…Named 2011 Metropolitan Golf Association Player of the Year…2010 U.S. Amateur participant, advancing to the first round of match play…Recently finished T4 at Lytham Trophy Amateur and Irish Amateur…Ranked 17 in AmateurGolf.com’s U.S. amateurs.

 

 

 

 

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Pinehurst Pros — Great play on a tough course

Pinehurst’s Kelly Mitchum

SEASIDE, Calif. – Much of the talk around the PGA Professional National Championship entering the tournament concerned the difference in difficulty between the two courses the 312-player field would play for the first two rounds.

Just ask first-round leader Mike Small. “You can’t fake it around Bayonet, that’s for sure,” he told PGA.com.

After Sunday’s opening round, players who started on the Bayonet Course clearly had a tougher road, with the course playing nearly two strokes more difficult than the Black Horse Course.

And after Monday’s second round, little changed.

While Bayonet may have played a tad easier – repeat, a tad – it was still the more challenging of the two courses. After Sunday’s first round, the field struggled to an even 77.0 scoring average. The sample size was doubled following the other half of the field playing the Bayonet in Monday’s second round. But little changed – the Bayonet, after 312 rounds, is still playing to a 76.9 average.

The Black Horse? It still remains more than shot easier.

So does any of that mean anything?

Oh yeah. It makes what Pinehurst Resort’s Kelly Mitchum and Todd Camplin did all the more impressive.

Pinehurst’s Todd Camplin. Photo by The Fayetteville Observer

Camplin, who qualified for the PGA Championship after winning a playoff to earn one of 20 berths out of the National Championship a year ago, made the cut again in 2012, and shook off two bogeys in his first seven holes on Monday at Bayonet to play the next nine holes in even par. He did finish his round with a bogey on the par-5 ninth to fall to 3 over, but easily made the cut.

By doing so, Camplin still has a chance to make a move back into the top 20. Entering Tuesday’s third round, he stands just three strokes out of a tie for 17th, which would put him back into a playoff for a trip to Kiawah, S.C., and a second straight PGA Championship appearance.

Then there’s Mitchum. An online scoring error during Mitchum’s afternoon round showed him as high as 6 under late Monday night and alone in second place, just two shots out of the lead held by Matt Dobyns.

But before Mitchum was done, the error was corrected – he made par instead of birdie on the 12th hole – and a finishing-hole bogey dropped Mitchum to 4 under and into a tie for fourth, still only four shots out of the lead.

But what the fervor surrounding Mitchum’s online score may have masked was a fantastic round of golf on a course PGA Tour winner Jason Dufner has even called “impossible.” Mitchum had one birdie, one bogey and seven pars in a clean front nine, then made birdie twice in a six-hole span on the back nine to get as low as 5 under for the championship. His 71 was one of the better scores turned in on Bayonet on Monday.

Which brings us to Tuesday’s third round. The 77 players still alive will play Bayonet.

For the guys from Pinehurst, it seems that’s a good thing.

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