Below is a Q&A with Golf Channel Commentator @jerryfoltz or otherwise known as Foltzy. Jerry is honest, witty, and unbelievable smart. He’s as comfortable at a black tie corporate sponsor dinner as he is hanging out at the caddy tent post round telling and listening to jokes. He answers questions from his playing days to his current role as a commentator. The Phil Mickelson shot is fantastic but more impressive was his answer to my how does the LPGA grow the fan base.
Quick set up as to how Jerry and have become friends:
I used be a complete ass on twitter to people in the golf business and professional golfers. I was rude, mean, and a first class jerk. This lead to getting blocked many times and one of the blocks was Foltz. Long story short but another pro told him to unblock me and this lead to us meeting in Portland for dinner when Jerry was here for the Web event at Pumpkin Ridge four years ago (I was fully expecting him to flush me upon meeting me). From then on a great friendship was born. Jerry and I partner up once a year in what is called ‘The Match.’ The Annual 18 hole battle the last day of the LPGA event at our course. We take on my boss and whatever ringer he brings in. Foltz and I are 3-0.
People may not see the humorous and witty side of Foltzy but it is clearly there if you have spent time around him. His knowledge of the game is strong and he works hard to maintain it. Jerry Foltz hands down is the MOST underrated golf commentator in the business.
1. AS A KID WAS YOUR DREAM TO PLAY GOLF PROFESSIONALLY?
I don't think I really ever thought that far ahead. I simply fell in love with the game at an early age and pursued that passion day to day. Forethought has never been my strong suit. Also, many of my peers would argue that the golf I played would be a stretch to be termed "Professional."
2. DID YOU LIKE THE GRIND?
Loved it. Fighting yourself is one of the sheer beauties of any individual sport, especially golf.
3. WHO IF ANYONE WAS YOUR GOLFING MENTOR?
I took lessons from the local Las Vegas Muni teaching pro, Jerry Belt, so I would consider him my mentor. He taught me far more about life at a young age than he did golf, but that's one of those things you don't realize until later in life. Speaking of which, my mentor now is @ghostofhogan
4. BEING A VEGAS GUY DID YOU EVER PARTAKE IN SOME HIGH STAKES GOLF MATCHES?
My father worked in the casino business so I learned from an early age that, "Gambling money has no home." I did witness quite a few. There was one guy a couple of years older than me named Stacey Hart and he would take down the best of the hustlers. He would find me working around the golf shop when he was making the turn and tell me to call his dad to bring some money in 2 hours in case he lost. But invariably his dad would be there just in time to watch Stacey shake hands on the final hole with the smile of another profitable day.
5. ANY GOOD BUDDIES THAT YOU TRAVELED WITH ON THE WEB TOUR AND DID YOU HELP EACH OTHER OUT IF THE GOLF GAME WENT SOUTH?
Steve Haskins (son of the late legendary UTEP basketball coach Bear Haskins)and I were pretty good friends but never really leaned on each other for too much help. Tommy Tolles was a good friend who I would turn to for help when my game was in shambles. And that seemed to happen all too often.
6. KNOWING HOW GOLF WAS WHEN YOU PLAYED AND NOW BEING SO CLOSE TO THE GAME AT A HIGH LEVEL, HOW HAS PROFESSIONAL GOLF CHANGED BOTH GOOD AND BAD IN YOUR OPINION?
Wow. Now there's a strong question. I would say the one thing I miss about playing is something that isn't there any longer, at least not as strong as it was. And that is the camaraderie. We had to stay 3 or more to a hotel room, drive to events together, and occasionally caddie for each other when possible. Now, at the highest level (a place I seldom visited), there are 144 different corporations competing each week. They are all colleagues and friends and they support each other in many ways, but the closeness of living in the trenches together just isn't possible.
7. IS COMMENTATING NATURAL TO YOU? IT APPEARS THAT WAY BECAUSE THE ABILITY TO SET UP SHOTS AND GIVE THE VIEWER A CLEAR VISION IS, IN MY OPINION, THE SMOOTHEST IN THE BUSINESS.
My mother always said I would figure out a way to B.S. my way through life. I guess I'm just proving her right. God rest her soul. The fact is I absolutely love my job and consider myself beyond fortunate to even have it. I may not always appear like it, but I take each day, each show, and each shot very seriously. The job is to inform and entertain, but the art of the job is to know that if what you're about to say accomplishes neither, then just shut up. As Ken Venturi once told me, "It's a visual medium and the best in the business say the most while talking the least."
8. YOU SEEM LIKE THE CADDY YARD IS YOUR CHOICE OF PLACE TO HANG OUT VERSUS THE CORPORATE TENT? FAIR ASSESMENT?
I love the corporate tents. Great contacts, good people, awesome stories, and free um....refreshments, but I grew up a blue collar kid and the people I identify with are more often found in the caddie tent than the corporate tent. I invariably end up out to dinner with far more caddies than players or sponsors. Their stories are real life and the work ethic is incredible.
9. BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF YOUR PROFESSION?
They're one in the same: travel. I absolutely love to travel but always hated being away from home. Now days, with my son in college and a big change in my personal life, I'm starting to really take the time to enjoy the different places I get to visit and I'm spending far more time travelling for pleasure and not just work.
10. BEST SHOT YOU HAVE SEEN LIVE?
To brag a bit, Tom Lehman still says the greatest shot he'd ever seen was by me. It was a team event in Scottsdale when I hit a 5 iron out of a bush. The ball was suspended about knee high and jostling in the wind. I hit it down a valley to a tucked pin and it ended up 3 feet away. It was an easy two-putt for par. But in my job I have seen so very many incredible shots I can't even count them. Many authored by Phil Mickelson. The one that stands out the most was at Liberty National during the Barclay's. He had 87 yards out of a fairway bunker and not a very good lie. The hole was cut on the back left edge of the green on top of a slope that fell off just to the right. He clipped this piercing sand wedge that landed 20 right of the hole and spun left quickly, up the slope to about 4 feet. I stood there speechless and he caught the look on my face that must have appeared as though I'd just seen a ghost. He said, "Don't tell me you don't have that shot Foltzy. Just a little side-sauce on the sand wedge." Not only did I not have that shot, I'm pretty sure nobody else in the world could make the golf ball do that.
11. DURING YOUR PLAYING CAREER WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST STRENGTH? BEER DRINKING DOESN’T QUALIFY
My short game was my strength. It was so good it started at the tee.
12. TOP 3 GUYS ON THE PGA TOUR YOU WOULD CONSISTENTLY HAVE A BEER WITH AT NIGHT?
Ryan Palmer is probably my closest friends on tour and I always get together with him whenever possible. Chad Campbell is typically a member of that dinner as well and I also consider him a good friend. And we always have both of their caddies with us, James Edmondson and Judd Burkett respectively. They are very close friends of mine.
13. STRANGEST SITUATION YOU HAVE BEEN IN AS A COMMENTATOR?
It happened a year ago this week at the Hero World Challenge. I was following Bubba Watson and on the 3rd hole he stepped off the shot and was visibly annoyed. Our mics picked up his audio as he told Ted Scott that he could hear every word I was saying. In 20 years of doing good this job, I've never distracted a player. I wanted to crawl into the nearest hole forever. On the next green, Bubba walked over and apologized to me as if it was his fault. That meant a lot to me, but it wasn't remotely his fault.
14. DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES OR INTERESTS THAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE TO LEARN?
Probably wouldn't surprise anyone, but I don't lose many games of pool. I can hold my own in darts and ping pong. I'm not a bad bowler, and I own a Foosball table. So I guess I excel at sports with waitresses. (The Ghost assessment: if it involves sweating Foltz is out)
15. HOW CAN THE LPGA ATTRACT MORE FANS? GOLF NEEDS TO GET YOUNG GIRLS MORE INVOLVED, ANY IDEAS?
I think that ship is already sailing and doing so at a pretty good speed. The LPGA ratings and attendance has increased significantly each year that I've been covering it (which has coincided with the main reason...Commissioner Mike Whan) and with the global impact of the Olympics, we're just scratching the surface.
16. DO YOU THINK I CAN WIN A MAJOR IF I START STRETCHING DAILY?
If the "Crouch and Plow" movement really takes off, you'll be the front runner for the Green Helmet. I just want to be there calling the shots.