Interview: James Feutz from the UNLV Golf Team
Before I get into the interview I want to first start out and say thanks to James for taking the time out of his schedule to play a round of golf with someone who has a considerably less skill. I mentioned it in a tweet after our round that “Class and Skill was on display all day long” and I meant every word of it. As I’ve gotten older (now that I’m 40 I can say that without getting the funny stares) I often find myself being completely disappointed with the youth of America, but on this day, this 19 year old kid (another term I can now use) from Washington state showed me that there is hope for our younger generations and hopefully after you read the following interview you’ll feel the same way.
There have been several times in my life when I’ve encountered something that was truly amazing. Most of it pertains to the first times I was a witness to the event. For example I was mind blown when I stepped into the batter’s box and saw a 90mph fast ball for the first time. You see it all the time on TV and it’s impressive but being that close to action adds a completely different perspective to the activity.
This last week I was again blown away when I had the utmost pleasure of playing 18 holes with UNLV Rebel Golfer James Feutz.
UNLV’s golf program is once again on the rise but this is nothing new to a program that over the last decade or so has turned out a handful of respectable players on the PGA Tour. Names like, Ryan Moore, Charley Hoffman, Chris Riley, Chad Campbell, Skip Kendall, Bill Lunde, Andres Gonzales recent PGA winner Derek Ernst and a fellow you may have seen a lot of in the news lately; the 2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott. UNLV has a rich history when it comes to their golf program and Coach Knight has been excellent in recruiting some of the top players in the country to join him at UNLV and that is definitely the case when it comes to Red-Shirt Freshman James Feutz.
I’ve become completely enveloped in the Social Media world and that’s how I first came into contact with James. Late last year I finally figured out that Instagram was a viable tool for promoting my site and not just “Twitter for Stupid People”. and I started following more and more people in the golfing community. I had been following a few of the UNLV golfers and that is how I first got in contact with James. It’s a blast following and engaging with the UNLV golfers via twitter or Instagram or whatever media I can find. It’s a fantastic way to stay up to date on what’s going in within the program. It’s my backstage pass to some of the best golf content on the collegiate level.
Testing the boundaries of my Social Media status, I thought it might be a great story to sit down and talk with a first year player and get his take on how the season went, what it was like and how it felt to be a part of a nationally known golf program like UNLV. So I asked James if he’d like to join me for a round of golf during the week I was on vacation and then possibly sit down for an interview afterwards.
Much to my surprise James was very willing to do just that. We agreed to a place and time and I cannot begin to explain the level of excitement I was feeling knowing I was going to be playing a round of golf with a member of the UNLV Golf team. Being a HUGE UNLV Rebel fan the experience of playing a round of golf with, in my opinion, a future star on the Rebel Golf team would have been beyond satisfying but James also agreed to sit down with me afterwards and talk about what else, golf
April 25th 2013 – Las Vegas National Golf Club
As we made our way around the course time and time again I was blown away with the ability James has on the course. Shot’s I’ve never seen and I’ve seen a lot of them at Las Vegas National, nor ever thought were possible seemed to be happening all over the course.
One of those shots that I’ll never forget was when James used his 3Wood to drive the green on the par 4 13th. The hole plays 326 yards so the feat sounds impressive enough but what makes the shot even more compelling is the layout of the hole. It’s a blind shot that you need to carry two lakes in order to hit the green. I played the hole a little differently, although we both used the same club I chose the safer route, ok maybe the fact I couldn’t make that shot from the ladies tee’s had more to do with it. Regardless, James’s 300 yard carry with his 3Wood was mind boggling to me let alone the guts it took to actually pull off the shot.
Another memorable part of the round took place on the Par 4 5th. James missed his approach shot and I could tell he was upset about it. Curious to what was going on in his mind I asked about the shot and what he was thinking now that it had happened. He answer was remarkable in my opinion.
“I give myself 15 seconds to go over the shot and then I move on.”
That was unbelievable to me. I’m lucky if 15 minutes later there are faint memories of a bad shot let alone 15 seconds. He explained to me a little bit more in-depth about the process, he’ll break it down into three sections; five seconds to go over the shot, five seconds to analyze what went wrong and five seconds to find a positive. Then it’s on to the next shot.
It was moments like that where I got an insider’s look into the head a very talented golfer that made the day most enjoyable for me. James ended up shooting a 68 that day, not too shabby! LV National is a tough course and he basically butchered it with relative ease.
After the round we grabbed some lunch and then made our way to the outside porch, which had everything to do with the loudest human in existence that was seated at the table next to us.
I was interested in why James chose UNLV and without hesitation he quickly stated that Coach Knight was a key factor in making his decision.
“Everything that coach stands for in the golf program is awesome.”
He also added;
“The facilities here are phenomenal; we get to play out at Southern (Southern Highlands) and Shadow (Shadow Creek) which are two of the best courses in Las Vegas.”
There was more to it though than coaches and amazing facilities. James continued telling me some of the other reasons why he chose UNLV and I was really impressed with his answer.
“The weather is beautiful and you get to practice in some wind which I didn’t really get to practice in that at home. I played in a lot of rain and a lot of cold but I didn’t really get to play in a lot of heat and a lot of wind so I thought that would make me more mature and a little bit tougher over all as a player.”
That impressed me for a few reasons. The most being how easy it would have been for James to stay in the northwest and continue to play some outstanding golf in the region. The fact he decided to move away from home and challenge himself to learn to play in some very tough conditions really left a positive vibe with me.
Getting to play golf for a major NCAA program does come with a heavy work load though, maybe not in the classroom but as far as the golf goes Coach Knight makes sure the guys are kept busy with a schedule that start at 5:30am on Mon, Wed and Fridays and Dr. Keith Clemons facility, who has trained some of the best athletes in the Vegas valley, and then team practices on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Friday, Saturdays and Sundays.
“It’s very disciplined and if you look at the guys that have come out of here they are just professionals, there is a lot of class and they do things the right way. Coach is always teaching us about doing things the right way, we always wear pants, we’re always shaved, we always thank everyone for letting us play on their course. Coach is just really big on always being the constant professional.”
I took the opportunity to learn a few things myself about the college game that I had been curious about and in doing so ending up being even more impressed with Coach Knight. Not fully understanding how the process for selecting players for tournament goes James gave ne the details. Basically there is a two round qualifier and the two low scores get in. Then Coach Knight will select the other players that will play in the event. James went on to tell me that your first tournament you play in you will not be a coaches pick, you have to earn one of the spots.
“Coach is huge on that. That’s the way it is out on tour, you’re not going to get a sponsor’s exemption in something randomly you have to earn your way with a Monday qualifier and that’s part of the reason I think the guys that come out of here are so successful is because of the way Coach runs his qualifying system, it makes you tough, it makes you have to earn it and that’s why those guys stay out on tour because they earn it every year.”
After talking with James I think what stood out to me the most was how mature he was. His demeanor is calm, respectable and just reeks of success. As we talked I was so impressed with his knowledge of the game and his respect for the players that have come before him, not only at UNLV but also from his home town. PGA Tour player Kyle Stanley is one of those players from his home town area that James has tried to model his game after and when you see his swing it’s easy to compare it witht the powerful Stanley.
UNLV can only benifit from players like James and I’m sure the other players on the team are just as passionate and just as motivated to be successful.
James is certainly doing his part to be ready come the fall season. Check out what his summer schedule includes:
- Puget Sound Am • May 18-19 at Lake Spanaway and Chambers Bay
- State Open • May 20-22 at Meridian Valley
- Bremerton City Am • June 1-2 at Gold Mountain
- Royal Oaks Invitational – June 8-9 at Royal Oaks Cc
- Oregon Open - June 11-13 at Juniper Hills
- Tacoma City Am - June 15-16-23 at Brookedale, High Cedars, and Firecrest
- Washington State Am - June 18-20 at Chambers Bay
- Sahalee Qualifier - June 24 at Home Course
- Sahalee Players Championship - July 1-3 at Sahalee • pending qualification
- PNGA Men’s Am - July 6-11 at Bandon Dunes
- US Am Qualifier July 15 at Aldara
- Rosauers - July 19-21 at Indian Canyon
- US Am - August 12-17 at The Country Club at Brookline if I qualify
- Northwest Open August 19-21 at Wine Valley
That’s a lot of golf for a “summer break” if you ask me and it just solidifies his passion for the game and his desire to become a top level player while he’s here at UNLV.
Since I sat down with James back in April we maintained contact through text messages and twitter and I even spent one evening with him out at the old Callaway Golf Center before he headed out for his summer fest of golf. Watching his swing is just amazing to me, so much power in an effortless motion. It makes me wish all those years I wasted doing things I probably shouldn’t have been doing in my 20′s, could have been better spent on the practice range! Probably would have saved me some grief too!
Be sure to keep your eyes on the UNLV golf team this year, they have some amazing young talent that has been put together very well by Coach Knight and Coach Deacon.
A great was to stay up to date on the happenings of the program is Twitter. Where, if you happen to be as big of a fan of the UNLV Golf program as I am, you can follow @UNLVGolf and get those frequent updates. You can also follow James personally at @James_Feutz along with the majority of the other guys on the team.
Again I’d like to thank James for playing the round of golf with me and for also doing the interview. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch his career at UNLV which I’m sure is going to be filled with nothing but success.