At the PNC: Dobyns gets noticed
SEASIDE, Calif. — Even a casual observer must wonder about the circumstances that led to the unorthodox methods that Matt Dobyns uses to get around the golf course.
When he was a teenager, he was in a playoff against current PGA Tour player Jimmy Walker.
“We both hit the green,” Dobyns recalled. “I was 3 feet away and he was 20 feet away. He two-putted for a par and I lost. I three-putted from 3 feet and it wasn’t anything tricky with the green.”
That short series of events, more than anything, made Dobyns realize that if he were going to improve as a player, drastic measures would be required. So Dobyns, who played right-handed, not only began to work on putting left-handed - which is what he does today - but cross-handed, too. He also plays some short chips and pitches from the left side.
Not that he would advocate such a change for students he's worked with as a teaching professional.
“Today, there are many more options for a player,” said Dobyns, the head professional at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, N.Y., since January. “When I was making my change, you didn’t have the popularity of long putters and belly putters and weighting and all the things that today’s players have. There are so many more options that I didn’t have.”
Regardless of which side of the ball he stood on, the 34-year-old Dobyns did little wrong over the first two days of the 45th PGA Professional National Championship at the Bayonet and Black Horse courses. After opening with a 4-under 68 at the easier Black Horse on Sunday, he added a second 68 on Monday in blustery conditions over the more demanding Bayonet layout. He one-putted 11 greens in the second round.
“After I played the golf course (in practice rounds), I knew I had a chance,” said Dobyns, the runner-up at the 2008 PGA Assistant Championship. “It really suited my eye. I liked a lot of the tee shots, a lot of the framing. I was concerned about the contours of the greens because I was not very familiar with them, but if you’re careful and you pay attention, you can manage that somewhat. And that’s what I’ve done.
“Am I surprised? A little bit, but I’m not shocked.”
How Dobyns performs over the final 36 holes of his first PNC is anyone’s guess, but there will be a noticeable absence of self-induced pressure.
“It’s perspective,” he said. “The way I prioritize golf now is different than in the past. There were years when, after yesterday’s round, I would not have performed as well as I did today because I would have made it more than it really is. I’ve got great support from the members and from Fresh Meadow, from my wife and my new 9-month-old. . . . Golf is third in my life, so it’s not that big of a deal.
“I’m just happy to be here,” he continued, “just to play golf. Whether it’s competing in this or at home, playing with members, it really doesn’t matter what the venue is for me. The fact I played well is certainly more enjoyable.”