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    RFCC Blog

Coach Pete Coughlin on golf and RFCC

Pete Coughlin, RFCC summer 2016 golf coach, has deep experience in both coaching and club management. As men's coach at California University he led Cal U to the NCAA post- season in each eight seasons with the team. Prior to coaching at California, Pete was with Washington & Jefferson as coach for both the men's and the women's team. While at W&J Pete was honored as the Atlantic region Coach of the Year in Division II and the Eaton Golf Pride Mid- Atlantic Coach of the Year after leading the golfers to their first ever appearance in the NCAA National Championships.

Pete earned his degree in Marketing from the University of Maryland where he also served as the assistant pro at the university's golf club. After graduation, Pete was the golf services assistant at the Heron Creek Golf Club in North Port, Florida.

Pete's Blog #5

Memorial Day Weekend has arrived, and with it comes the unofficial start of summer. For me, the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day signify my down time from coaching. A time when I can spend time working on my own golf game and enjoying the beautiful weather that our region offers during the summer months. And at River Forest this summer is a very special season. Our club is turning 50 years old, and the owners and staff have some pretty big plans to celebrate the milestone.

Starting in June, we will be holding a “Six and Supper” couples event once a month through the rest of the season. Instead of playing 9 holes and having to start at 5 or 5:30, we will just be playing 6 holes. This will allow us to start with a cocktail hour at 5, and tee off for golf around 6:00pm. Couples can sign up with other couples or by themselves (we can pair you up with another couple for the golf portion) and Tim and the pro shop staff will come up with a format for the event that is fun for players of all skill levels—beginner through experienced. After finishing six, supper follows!

As many of you who have been to the club have already noticed, we are also honoring the milestone year with some commemorative merchandise. Coffee mugs, t-shirts and beer glasses are already available for purchase in the pro shop, with the possibility of adding other items as the season goes on. If you have any ideas for something that you would be interested in purchasing to mark this special year at River Forest, please let us know.
Finally, we have some big ideas in the works to cap off the 50th year celebration. The plan is to have something for everyone to enjoy over a 3-day weekend. Without giving away too many secrets, I will tell you that the events will be filled with golf, food and even some music and dancing.

Pete's Blog #4

First off, I apologize for taking a couple week off from writing. It’s an incredibly busy time of year for me as a college coach, and even crazier than normal this year with some added duties and responsibilities. I wanted to use this forum this week to introduce my assistant who will be helping out this summer at River Forest. Derrick Knopsnyder, a 2013 graduate of the Professional Golf Management Program at California University of PA, will be assisting me with the clinics and junior camps, as well as teaching any individual lessons that may be requested.

Derrick started out with me as my Graduate Assistant in the fall of 2013, and quickly proved himself to be a very capable teacher. With his assistance, our team earned the highest regional ranking ever, and came very close to earning our second straight berth in the NCAA Championship. Derrick’s teaching style is very similar to my own. We both strongly believe in trying to make the game more enjoyable from everyone we work with, so instead of trying to fit everyone into a certain type of swing, we take what you bring to us, remove any really bad habits, and send you back out with a more simple, effective swing aimed at helping you be more consistent. We also believe in helping you get better by making your bad shots better and less frequent. Anyone can hit a good shot now and again, but you will improve more quickly by improving your misses.

Another interesting thing about Derrick is that, even though he basically has a degree in golf, his passion lies elsewhere. For the past two years he has been a national touring stand-up comic, performing throughout the country at colleges and universities, as well as locally at various comedy clubs, including numerous stints as a feature comic at the Improv at the Waterfront. One thing I can promise you, in the off chance that he doesn’t help your golf game, you will still have a great time working with him!

I also wanted to spend a few words discussing our junior camp this summer. Derrick and I will be holding camp for 5 consecutive Tuesdays, starting June 14th. The camp will be mostly for younger kids (ages 5-12) who are just getting started in golf, although we would love to have some that already know the fundamentals and have played some. The basic schedule will be:

  • June 14 – Putting
  • June 21 – Chipping and Pitching
  • June 28 – Full Swing (irons)
  • July 5 – Full Swing (woods)
  • July 12 – End of camp 3-hole tournament

You can sign your child(ren) up in the pro shop, but we will only have room for 15 kids in each session so sign up soon.

Pete's Blog #3

The PGA Tour takes center stage in the sporting world this week, as the best players in the world return for their yearly visit to the mecca of the sport, Augusta National, for the Masters Tournament. I have been lucky enough to attend the tournament twice, both during my college years, and I can tell you with certainty that television does not do the course justice! Everyone knows how green the course is, but the elevation changes, vivid colors of the azaleas and magnolias and just the ambiance and history of the site can only be conveyed in person. If you ever get the chance to attend the Masters, it is an absolute must for every golfing enthusiast.

Here are a few quick facts about Augusta National and the Masters that you may not know:

  1. Augusta National was conceived by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones, one of the greatest golfers of all time (and who never turned pro). They brought in Alistair MacKenzie from Scotland to help Jones design the course, which formally opened in January of 1933.
  2. The Masters tournament has the most exclusive field of any major championship in golf. In order to be invited you must either be a past Masters champion, have won a PGA Tour event in the past calendar year, be highly ranked in the World Golf Rankings, or have won one of a select group of amateur events in the past year (or finished as the runner-up at the US Amateur).
  3. Speaking of the amateurs, those that qualify traditionally stay in the Crow’s Nest, a 30’x40’ room on the top level of the clubhouse.
  4. Magnolia Lane, the road that extends from the entrance of the grounds to the clubhouse, is approximately 330 yards long and is framed by 61 magnolia trees.
  5. Rae’s Creek, which flows in front of 12 green, is named for John Rae, and Augusta native whose house served as a refuge for locals during Indian attacks.
  6. The Champions Dinner is held annually on Tuesday night during Masters week. All club members and past champions are invited, and the menu is chosen by the defending champion. This year Jordan Speith chose a traditional Texas barbecue as his theme for dinner.
  7. The concessions for fans are CHEAP!!! While trying to feed a family of four at a Steelers or Pirates game may force you to take out a loan, the food and drinks at the Masters have always been incredibly affordable. The infamous pimento cheese sandwich will set you back a buck-and-a-half, while the most expensive food item on the menu, a grilled chicken sandwich, costs all of $3. Even beer is affordable, at $4 for an import (although maybe if they jacked up the price we wouldn’t be subjected to so many “You the man!” or “Get in the hole!” screams from the patrons).

As for my fearless predictions for this year’s tournament, it is tough to bet against the three favorites (McElroy, Speith and Day) but look for some lesser known guys, possibly Brandt Snedeker or Marc Leishman to be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon. In any event, I hope you all enjoy watching this year’s tournament because it sure doesn’t look like we are going to be playing any golf in Pittsburgh this weekend!

Pete's Blog #2

Stretching. Just looking at that word makes me want to crawl back in bed and curl up under the covers. It is amazing how something that is so good for the body is so often overlooked by so many people every day. I’ve been dealing with back pain on and off for about 20 years now (half of my life), but since I’ve begun a daily stretching program I have seen a definite improvement. Below are some of the stretches that my physical therapist has me perform at least once daily. Hopefully they can help some of you who experience back pain, and maybe help keep the rest of you from having to deal with it!

Lying Supine Twists
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Stretch your arms out to either side of you and relax your head and neck on the floor (or a pillow if it is more comfortable). Keeping your arms on the ground, roll your legs down to the right and hold for a count of 30. For a deeper stretch you can pull your knees down toward the ground with your right hand and turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Release the stretch and repeat by rolling your legs to the left. Perform this stretch just once to each side for a count of 30.

Low Back Stretch
Lye on the ground with your stomach on the floor. Slowly push your upper body up until you can rest on your elbows, with your legs and lower back remaining on the floor. You should feel this stretch right in the low back. Hold for a count of 20, then release and rest for a 10 count. Repeat the stretch 10 times. For a bigger stretch you can push up all the way until your arms are fully extended from your hands to your shoulders.

Hamstring Stretch
This is an area of the body that is often overlooked, but is frequently a major contributor to low back pain. For this stretch start by lying on the ground on your back. You will need some type of band to perform this, but even if you don’t have a dedicated stretch band a belt or scarf will work just fine. Bend your left leg toward your chest and loop the band around the sole of your foot. Straighten the leg out and, keeping it as straight as possible, raise the leg as far off the ground as you can, holding on to the band with both hands for support. Hold this position for a 20 count, then take a deep breath and relax the leg down slightly. As you exhale, raise the leg back up, trying to go further than you were able to before. Repeat this one more time before returning the left leg to the floor and repeat the process with the right leg.
As with any exercise or stretching program, consult your doctor before starting if you have any concerns with any of the movements. If you have any questions on any of these stretches, or if you have any others that you would like to share with the membership, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Pete's Blog #1

Easter week is upon us, which to me has always meant the unofficial start of the golf season in Pennsylvania. As we begin the 50th year at River Forest, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself to all of the members of the club. My name is Peter Coughlin, and for as long as I can remember golf has been a huge part of my life. Some of my first memories are of hitting balls and having putting contests with the members of the Penn State golf teams back in the late 1970’s when my dad was an assistant professional at the PSU golf courses. We moved to Berwick, PA in 1981 when my father took a job as the head pro at the Berwick Golf Club, and for the remainder of my childhood years I spent more time there than anywhere, including my home!

As a player, I had a pretty successful junior career, good enough at least to earn a scholarship to play at the University of Maryland (GO TERPS!). After graduating I turned pro and worked as an assistant at the U of Maryland golf course for almost 3 years, after which I moved south to Florida to try my hand at the minitours. As much as I enjoyed my time there, and even though I had some marginal success, I knew pretty quickly that playing golf for a living wasn’t for me. I knew that I enjoyed teaching the game to others as much as I liked playing myself.

The opportunity to become a college golf coach at Washington & Jefferson College in 2003 was what brought me to southwestern PA, and I soon realized that I had found a profession and a place that I could live for a long time and be very happy. Even though I have only been here for 13 years, I know consider myself as much of a Pittsburgher as anyone, including my wife who has lived here all her life! I eventually moved from W&J to California U of Pennsylvania in 2008, and have been there ever since.

I have already had the pleasure of meeting with Tim and starting to develop some new programs that I hope will help the members and guests of River Forest become better players, and enjoy playing the game even more. Group clinics, a summer junior camp and Friday evening couples golf and dinner events are just a few of the ideas that we are going to implement this year, and we will continue to add more events and tournaments throughout the year.
As the season goes on I will continue to use this forum to update everyone on golf events that are going on at the club, as well as passing on some tips, drills and games that I have picked up over the years, and use to help the men and women on my teams to improve their games. If there are any topics that you would like me to discuss here, please don’t hesitate to pass your ideas on to anyone at the club, and I will do my best to honor all requests. I’m excited to get the season in full swing, and look forward to meeting as many of you as possible throughout the summer. Until then, play often and play well!