A Light Hearted Golf Q & A Interview
Below is an interview with Brian Sleeman, the Head Golf Professional at The Preserve Golf Club. The following are a few traditional and non traditional golf-centric questions that I love to ask influential people in the golf industry.
Can you provide our readers a brief biography?
I came to golf after hanging up my Little League spikes and quickly fell in love with the game. The same summer I began playing, I began working in the bag room and on the practice range of Marquette Golf Club in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I carried on playing and working in the game throughout my high school and college years, and when it came time to decide on grad school or begin the PGA apprentice program, I dove into golf with the thought that school would always be there if I wanted to go back. Things moved quickly from there, and I’ve been fortunate to spend time at incredible clubs working for a variety of great mentors. Two years ago I moved across the country to one of the great golf neighborhoods here on the Monterey Peninsula to take the head professional position at The Preserve, and I’m lucky to call this special place my office everyday.
When did you start golfing and who introduced you to the game?
Like many, I started playing golf with my dad and his friends. I was a baseball nut until the age of 14, when I began to really play the game in earnest and simultaneously was hired on to work at Marquette Golf Club. That was the only real club in town, and I played most of my golf at a modest public track (now NMU Golf Course) nearer my home. It was only a nine-hole course, and I remember touring around it over and over again with friends on those long Michigan summer days, usually playing 36 and on one July day walking 108 holes. Due to its close proximity to Lake Superior, it was built essentially on beach sand and drained incredibly well, so it always played fast and firm. It was so much fun chasing shots over and through the dry, rumpled ground that I grew to really appreciate the ground game.
What is your current home course?
The Preserve Golf Club in Carmel, California
To date, what is your proudest golf accomplishment?
My proudest moment in the game so far has been being named the head professional at The Preserve. It was the culmination of a lot of good fortune and great mentorship from the golf professionals for whom I’d worked as an assistant at Marquette Golf Club (Marc Gilmore), Crystal Downs (Fred Muller), Onwentsia (Bruce Carson), and Inverness (Derek Brody). It’s been a fun run and I’m excited to put their lessons to work at the helm of such a special place.
What is your biggest golf pet peeve on or off the course?
Like many, slow play is my biggest pet peeve. There’s nothing better than zipping around in a comfortable two and a half or three hours – never rushing, but not wasting time either.
What is your favorite club in your bag and why?
I’ll go with my 6-iron. Back in Marquette, I and a few friends would occasionally play one-club golf and that was always my go-to club. I learned how to adapt it to fit whatever shot was required, whether it was a low, running draw off the tee or a high flop over a bunker. I like to move the ball a fair amount and I think a lot of that is due to those afternoons with only a 6-iron in hand.
What is your favorite golf destination?
I’m fortunate to live in one of the world’s great golf neighborhoods here in Carmel, so I’ll say my old home state of Michigan. Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are awfully hard to beat – particularly in the summer and fall – as there is so much quality golf, such a wide variety of terrain, and such great towns to explore and enjoy. Not to mention the craft brew scene.
What course is on your bucket list that you have not played yet?
There are still a lot on the list, but Royal Dornoch in Scotland might be first. I love how life in the small town apparently revolves around that course, and its remote location in the Scottish Highlands matches the remote feel of my old hometown of Marquette. There’s something to be said for a golf experience away from the crowds and where it’s enjoyed in its purest, simplest form.
If you woke up tomorrow and could play one course you played before, where would you play?
Crystal Downs in Frankfort, Michigan. I was fortunate to work there as an assistant for five years and have never had more fun playing the game. It’s relatively short, ridiculously fun, and requires both creativity and a sense of humor. There’s nowhere better.
If you could change one aspect, rule or thing about golf, what would it be and why?
Golf is an incredible game, and I’d love to see it more accessible for more people. There’s so much to enjoy and it’s a shame that more people don’t get the opportunity either due to lack of courses or lack of affordability. Programs like The First Tee, Youth on Course, and PGA Junior League are fantastic and I’m hopeful they’ll continue to expand the reach of the game.
Dream foursome (living)?
My dream foursome would include two of my mentors – Marc Gilmore and Fred Muller – and my wife, Anna.
Dream foursome (living or dead)?
Favorite 19th hole drink?
Something cold and likely to enliven the conversation.
18 Rapid Fire, Off The Cuff Questions
1) Hitting Long Drive OR Sinking Long Putt?
2) Having Round of Life OR Hole in One?
Round of Life
3) Golfing at the crack of dawn OR twilight?
4) Hit a power fade OR power draw?
5) Beverage cart OR halfway house?
6) Bathroom OR bushes?
7) Hot dog OR wrap?
8) Around the green, being in sand OR thick rough?
9) Walking OR riding?
10) Do you carry traditional 3 iron OR hybrid?
11) Do you prefer long par 3 OR long par 5?
Long Par 3
12) Pants OR Shorts?
Pants – Work Requirement
13) Palmer OR Nicklaus?
14) Beatles OR Elvis?
15) Play for fun OR play for money?
16) Bump and run OR flop shot?
Bump and Run
17) Lay up OR gamble?
18) 18 holes OR 36?