2012 PGA Championship Interview Transcript -- Matt Dobyns

KELLY ELBIN:  2012 PGA Professional National Champion Matt Dobyns joining us at the 94th PGA Championship, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  In June out in the northern part of California, Matt won the PGA Professional National Championship.  He is at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, New York, head professional there.  Congratulations on the win.  Welcome here.  That was your debut in the National Championship and certainly your debut in the PGA Championship.  Must be quite a thrill.

MATT DOBYNS:  That's right.  It was my first time at the National Club Pro, obviously my first PGA, and this is the ultimate goal in terms of playing for someone like me.  I'm thrilled to be here, I'm thrilled to have my family here and close friends, and it's already going too fast I can already tell.

KELLY ELBIN:  If you could retrace a little bit, obviously you're going to be representing 20 PGA club professionals this week, but you almost didn't even make it to Bayonet BlackHorse for the National Championship.  Could you go through that.

MATT DOBYNS:  Well, I take my job seriously, and Fresh Meadow was kind enough to give me a chance to be their head professional.  When we have events at the club that involve our members, I'm expected to be there, and I want to be there to make sure the experience is as it should be.  It just so happened that one of our events coincided with the National Club Pro, and up until really two days before, I was thinking that I probably wasn't going to go, I was going to withdraw.

When I found out that when I withdrew the spot that I had taken was going to go to someone outside of our section, I felt it was kind of a responsibility for me to go represent our section at the Club Pro because those spots are hard to come by, and as it turns out, the membership was behind me 100 percent, and so I flew out there, played one practice round, and the rest is history, and here I am.

KELLY ELBIN:  Obviously the golf courses took very much to your liking right away.

MATT DOBYNS:  Yeah, it was a perfect setup for me.  It had some length to it, which helped me.  I hit the ball a little longer than average, so the length didn't bother me at all.  And I could hit it past a lot of the trouble out there in California.  It was a place where if you could carry it 280, you could hit past a lot of the bunkers and make some of the corners, as well, and turn the par 5s into par 4s, which was the key to scoring there.  You combine that with balls that were off line weren't in hazards like they are here, they were findable, they were playable, and it gave you a chance to make up for an errant shot.

Q.  I know it was such a last minute decision to go out there, and you weren't able to have your family out there with you.  What's it like to have them here, and then when you finish with that, I just want to know what the reception was like by the membership when you came back to the club.

MATT DOBYNS:  Well, like I kind of said when I won the tournament out in California, nothing is worth really accomplishing if you can't share it with people, and there's nobody better to share it with than wife Laurie, my daughter Kaitlyn, my parents, her parents and close friends.  That's what makes it worth doing.

What was the second part?

Q.  What was the reception at the club?

MATT DOBYNS:  The members it's funny how I come back from the tournament, and the reception I got was very, very humbling, and it was people I didn't think would even be paying attention, non golfers at the club, were seeking me out and telling me congratulations, telling me they watched me on TV.  Those things make you feel special, and that certainly was no exception.

Q.  What would you consider a successful week for you this week, and what are your expectations going in?

MATT DOBYNS:  I have no expectations, much like I did at the National Club Pro.  I don't have a goal here.  I'm not sure how many sports psychologists would think that would be a good thing for a bad thing.  But I think there's too much going on around me.  This is my first rodeo here, for me to set a realistic goal because I don't really know what realistic is for me.  I guess in the end, I don't know how good I could be.  I guess I could be good enough to win the National Club Pro.  Does that mean I'm good enough to make the cut here?  I'd like to think so.  Obviously if I made the cut I would be thrilled to play the weekend of a major championship.

But really it's more about the experience and it's more about sharing that experience with the people I care about.

Q.  Had you tried to qualify for the U.S. Open this year?

MATT DOBYNS:  No, no, that coincided with a member actually a corporate event we had at the club.  I couldn't go to the qualifier.

Q.  Had you done that before this year, though, Open qualifying?

MATT DOBYNS:  Once or twice.  It seemed like there was always something going on where I couldn't make it.

Q.  And secondly, you said that the Bayonet BlackHorse course set up perfectly for you.  What about this one?

MATT DOBYNS:  If I drive it well here, I can play here, because again, the length doesn't get to me here.  But unlike the Bayonet course, here if I hit an errant tee shot, I'm either dropping it or I'm chopping it out of bad rough or I'm in a waste bunker trying to hit a shot to an elevated green.  It's not as easy to make up for an errant tee shot here as it was in California, so it puts more of a premium on being accurate off the tee.

You know, I'm not going to say it's a weakness of mine, but it's something when I go bad that's usually one of the things that goes bad.

Q.  As you know, one of the great PGA professionals we have and your mentor, Darrell Kestner is in the field this week.  He's the oldest member of the field at 58.  He's been in now a major in five different decades.  What has he meant to your career, and could you speak if he's given you any tips at all, having him play this course already twice?

MATT DOBYNS:  I've been squeezing all the tips I can out of him.  I feel like a member.  I kind of try and stay within an arm length of him through this whole week because he conducts himself in such a way that really makes him so popular, and I'm trying to emulate that.

He's meant more to my career than anyone has in this business.  He's taught me more about how to help members.  He's taught me how to run a business in my own golf shop.  But more importantly, he's taught me the right way to take care of my members and their guests, and that's the key to success in our business is giving them an experience that's second to none and having them know that we're there for them and they want them to enjoy the game as much as we do.

That's what I owe Darrell and Margie for the most is giving me the kind of tools and the wherewithal to do that.

Q.  Were you an assistant professional to Darrell at Deepdale?

MATT DOBYNS:  Yes.

Q.  For how many years?

MATT DOBYNS:  Three years.

Q.  In terms of what the membership is doing this week now and watching this and whatnot, is there something going on there back home?  I'm curious what their interest level will be this week.

MATT DOBYNS:  It's high, the interest level.  They've got all the TVs on.  I've gotten a lot of emails, a lot of texts, a lot of encouraging things.  But the nice part about my members is they're smart enough to realize that being here is the goal, and really every single one of them hasn't come to me and said, boy, I hope you go and win with thing or I hope you're paired with Tiger, they all tell me the same thing, and that's to soak in the week and enjoy it and share it with my family, and so that's what I'm trying to do.

Q.  Does anybody from the top touring pros recognize you as the club champion, and who has given you the warmest welcome?

MATT DOBYNS:  Yeah, everybody has given me a warm welcome.  I've been recognized by some guys that I would be surprised by.  Everybody watches TV these days, and if you pay attention to The Golf Channel there's a chance you might have seen my face or heard my name in the past six weeks, so I have had some guys come and say congratulations, which is very, very nice.

Just being here for a few days, I can tell you that people don't realize how good these players are.  They're so good.  It's really very impressive just to watch as a professional because my business is making other people better.  So if I can take something away from this to help me do that, that's just another plus, another bonus to the week.

Q.  Who have you played practice rounds with so far?

MATT DOBYNS:  Mostly Darrell and a couple of the guys here.  We've had weather delays in and out, so I've only played one round here, and that was with just some friends of mine from New York.  We had so many guys qualify, five guys from the Metropolitan Section make it into this event, which is pretty rare, and we're all fairly close friends, so we've been able to spend some time together and help each other, and then today kind of went around but didn't really get out with the weather.  We'll see tomorrow.  Maybe I can catch a game with somebody I can learn something from other than Darrell.

Q.  You said you didn't want to let down the Met Section, that's why you went out there.  You're not from there; what drew you to the Met Section and what has that meant to you, being from there, playing there?

MATT DOBYNS:  Yeah, it means a lot.  Anyone who's in the golf business knows that the Met Section is kind of the most sought after section to be employed.  And one of the reasons for that is it places value on two areas of our business that other sections have lost touch with, and that's the playing and the teaching end.  It's a section that offers lucrative purses if you play well, and it's a section where you can develop as an instructor.  Those are the two things that really drew me to it and I think draws most guys that aren't from New York, aren't from the Northeast, to that section.  I think it's the oldest section.  Am I right?  I think that it is.

KELLY ELBIN:  It started in 1916, yeah.

MATT DOBYNS:  And it's just different.  It's hard to describe it to guys who aren't in it, but they place such an emphasis on the cores of the game in terms of playing and teaching, and it's still a section that I can be somewhat self employed by owning my own golf shop.  That doesn't happen in a lot of the country anymore, so those things are really what attracted me to the Met Section.

Q.  Have you ever had ambitions to be a Tour golfer, and have you tried to qualify for Tour, and also, what was the biggest achievement of your playing career before winning the Club Pro?

MATT DOBYNS:  I think growing up I wanted to play, but when I was in high school, I met a guy who's now one of my best friends, and our goal was to get a college scholarship, play college golf.  So when I was offered a scholarship from the University of Texas and my friend went to SMU on a golf scholarship, that in a way kind of was the culmination of a lot of hard work and kind of the payoff for me.  When I got done with school, I had kind of just a good enough career where if I hadn't tried to play at that point I would have probably regretted it.

So I gave it about two good years of trying to play, but I realized fairly quickly that the travel, the being away from home, the not so glamorous parts of the game were too much for me to overcome to get to the PGA TOUR.  And the fact that there are so many good players now, it's hard for me to it was hard for me to have confidence at the time to really believe that I could do it.

I never had the fire like a lot of guys do that can deal with years and years of kind of struggling to make ends meet and sleeping in cars and eating at McDonald's three times a day.  That for me was just a little too much, so it didn't quite turn out.

But the at the same time, I love to play, and not just in Tour events.  It doesn't really matter who it is or where I am, I love to play golf, so that was never going to go away.  And as a result my game kind of continued to improve to where it is today.

My career highlight before this, that's tough because there's a lot of lowlights but not a lot of highlights.  I won the Long Island Open last year, which was a nice step for me professionally.  I had some nice finishes in college.  I came close to winning some nice college events that included a lot of the players that are in this field but I never quite pulled it off.  I was part of some very nice college teams.  That probably would be it, having a scholarship, being a person who traveled on the University of Texas golf team, and combine that with the Long Island Open are probably the biggest things I'm most proud of.

Q.  A lot of guys, PGA professionals who have qualified in the past talk about the wow moment when they get here, whether it's pulling into the gate or walking onto the range.  Have you had a wow moment yet?

MATT DOBYNS:  When I got the Mercedes, that was the biggest wow moment for me.  It's hard to figure out how to turn that thing on for a guy who doesn't drive a Mercedes.  Really, it's been just how incredibly attentive everyone is to you, from the fans to the staff, and how organized and well put on the event is.  We play in great events in the Met Section.  They're really well run.  But there's nothing like this.  We're in how much did cost to build this thing here?  This is an impressive building.  This is an impressive event.  So I guess it really is just how everyone treats you not even knowing who you are, being so nice and forth coming right out of the gates.  That was my wow moment.

Q.  Can you just talk about what it's like to be a historic club like Fresh Meadow?  I know it wasn't the same spot that Fresh Meadow has had a PGA.

MATT DOBYNS:  A lot of people don't know it is a club with a tremendous history.  It's hosted a U.S. Open, it's hosted a PGA Championship.  Gene Sarazen was the pro.  I can now tell people that I'm the head pro at a club where Gene Sarazen was once the head pro, and that's quite an honor in and of itself.  I love the history of the game, and I really appreciate how hard people work to get to good at this game, and I appreciate the lessons it teaches you in life.  Certainly it's taught me a lot about myself, a lot about how to conduct myself, and it's given me a great perspective on life.

So in that respect you look at the place, history at a place like Fresh Meadow, and it just makes me all that much more appreciative to be there.

KELLY ELBIN:  You are a rarity in that from tee to green everything is right handed and then once you get to the green it's left handed.  How did that evolve over time?  Sounds like you had a change at some point in your life.

MATT DOBYNS:  Well, you miss enough putts one way you've got to figure it out.  My putting right handed got so bad, it just got out of hand.  I needed to make a dramatic change, and at the time we didn't have all the alternate ways of putting.  We didn't really have the belly putter.  The long putter was still really in its early developmental stages, and I think there was more of a stigma putting with a long putter then than going left handed now.

But I knew I needed to make a drastic change, and I grabbed a left handed putter, and all of a sudden my stroke felt good, and I thought, well, listen, I've read so many books about putting maybe I can build a stroke from the left side from scratch and do the things I want to do and build it the way I want to build it, and that's what I've done.  I've actually turned into a pretty decent putter actually.

Q.  When did you make that change?

MATT DOBYNS:  17 years old.  Big problems early.

KELLY ELBIN:  So this being your first PGA Championship, you get paired with the current Ryder Cup captain for Europe.  What's that going to be like to play with Mr. Olazábal?

MATT DOBYNS:  I'm trying to brush up on my Spanish.  It's been a while.  I took two years in college, so maybe I can talk a little bit with him.  Obviously it's an honor to be paired with him, and Branden Grace, too.  The guy has won three times on the European Tour.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how he goes about playing the golf course.

Certainly he's got a history here I'd love to talk to him about.  I don't know if he'll be open to talking about it.  But with the whole Ryder Cup year and now he's the captain, it's a great pairing.  I couldn't have asked for anything more.

KELLY ELBIN:  Matt Dobyns, congratulations again, and thanks for being here.

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