Canadian Rockies Golf Know the Pro: Director of Golf Steven Young (The Fairmont Banff Springs)
Celebrating its 125th anniversary, the Castle in the Rockies otherwise known as The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, is the landmark property that features history, exceptional hospitality and of course, a Stanley Thompson gem in The Fairmont Banff Spring Golf Course.
As the course prepares for the upcoming golf invitational with the New York Rangers, Canadian Rockies Golf talks with Director of Golf Steven Young for this week’s “Know the Pro” segment, about the legendary course and some tips for golfers of all skill levels.
1) What advice would you give to a golfer playing The Fairmont Banff Springs course for the first time?
Keep your head up – you don’t want to miss the scenery and wildlife!
The mountains in the background give the perception that everything is closer and the way Stanley Thompson has set the bunkers back from the green make the greens appear closer, when in fact it is an illusion created by the designer. Trust the yardage and remember that the ball will travel farther at this altitude.
2) How long have you been in the golf business, and why did you decide to become a golf pro?
I began in the golf business in the mid-1980s working in the back shop in Ottawa. From there I went into the pro-shop where I played competitively and learned retail and golf operations. My mentor at the time suggested I go to university to get my education and if after that still wanted to be in the golf business get my pro card. I decided I wanted to run a golf facility and was fortunate to get employment with Fairmont and have been supported and provided the opportunity to be creative and develop.
3) Explain the different ways to grip the club and the benefits/challenges of each.
The grip is the way we connect our body with the instrument we use to strike the golf ball and it is a fundamental that golfers need to get right if they are to be successful.
Fortunately, there is no one way to grip the club. The main choices are the ten finger grip, the overlap grip and the interlock grip. There are some ‘hand types’ that might make one grip more preferable than the other but for me the type of grip depends on which provides you the greatest natural feeling in making the swing.
I would suggest most people use the overlap grip or the ten finger grip. But, as mentioned, neither is better than the other. Once you have decided how to put your hands on the club, you need to set them in a way they work with your swing to get the club on the ball. Sometimes a stronger hand position offsets another swing difference. For the most part, the hands should be in a neutral position so as not to cause weak shots to the right (for a right hander) or strong hooks to the left.
4) What is your favorite hole on The Fairmont Banff Springs course? Why?
My favorite hole at The Fairmont Banff Springs is hole #6, for many reasons. The first is when you stand on the tee you realize the genius of the designer – Stanley Thompson. There are bunker placements that at first you would question the need, but quite quickly realize, like with a painting, if they were not there the hole would be out of balance to the eye.
The second reason is you stand there and only see a birdie – shorter par 4 that entices you to try and drive the green. What you realize after you do this is anything 130 yards in is on a downhill hitting into an elevated green that is twice as small as his other greens. The result is often a missed green and tough pitch shot. Once you are on the green you realize there is a lot of movement and unless you are in the right spot you are forced to lag the putt.
To play this hole, hit an iron off the tee and you will be glad to have a 140 full shot into the green.
5) What is an example of a common mistake new golfers make and how can they correct it?
I find the biggest error new golfers make is course management. They get to a tee and hit their driver. They only use one type of golf shot and always play to the flagstick. A great way for new golfers to start playing better is to approach the game with some basic strategy. Use a three wood or five wood off the tees to provide greater accuracy and set yourself up for a chance to get into the green. If there are a lot of hazards use a club that will avoid them – try a 4-iron off the tee.
The extra stroke to drop from a hazard or to hit out of a bunker will be worth the loss of yardage. When you get close to the green look at the green and green site and see where you want to be and where you don’t want to be. If we watch golf on TV we think we can hit a chip shot over a bunker at the flagstick. In many cases we would be better to play away from the flagstick and have a 12 foot putt, than try to go at the flagstick and short side ourselves or miss the shot and have a very tough recover shot.
6) What hidden secret can you share about The Fairmont Banff Springs that visitors should know?
Since 1939 it has been ranked very highly by amateurs and professionals alike. The course has stood the test of time because of its design, location and playability. There is so much more to it than your golf game. Take the time to enjoy a round of golf that has been played over the same ground by the likes of Joe Dimaggio, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope, Gordie Howe, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Sergio Garcia and many other famous actors, athletes and celebrities. It truly is hallowed grounds with great history.
The Fairmont Banff Springs will partner with the New York Rangers on Thursday, Sept. 19 for a fundraising golf tournament to aid in flood relief. Participants receive entry into an exclusive meet-and-greet reception, a round on the award-winning Stanley Thompson course at The Fairmont Banff Springs, and a barbecue dinner following golf. Individuals can register for $500; corporate foursomes are $2,500 (three golfers and one celebrity).
The Fairmont Banff Springs and New York Rangers Golf Invitational starts at 1 p.m. Proceeds will be donated to the Rotary Club of Canmore’s Flood Relief Fund and the Banff Community Foundation.
For sponsorship information and golf registration (open to the public): 403.760.6002