For April, I would like to highlight Bert Walker, PGA head professional at Prairie Lakes Golf Course. He was elected to PGA Membership in 1998. Prior to his time at Prairie Lakes GC, Bert was the head professional at Hackberry Creek Country Club, Thorntree Country Club and Tangle Ridge Golf Club, Prior to becoming a head professional, he worked as an assistant professional at Country View Golf Course in Lancaster and Tangle Ridge Golf Club.
Bert and his wife Hollye have been married for 15 years. She is a principal at an elementary school in Midlothian, and they met on the golf course when Bert was an assistant golf professional at Tangle Ridge. She was supplementing her teaching salary as a cart girl during the summers. They have one son, Luke Sky Walker (12), who participates in PGA Junior League Golf and NTPGA junior events.
What do you love about the golf business? What I love about the golf business is sharing the sheer joy of golfers when they accomplish something in their individual game. Whether that accomplishment is shooting their best round ever or simply "figuring" out a part of their game that has been struggling. Even after almost twenty years in the golf business, it is still exciting to share these moments with golfers of all abilities. It reminds me as a PGA golf professional that the importance of our job is to share our love of the game with everyone who plays and enjoys the game of golf.
Who got you started in the game? My dad always kept me around the game, but I really didn't "dive" into playing golf full time until I was around 16-years old. He helped me understand the fundamentals of the game, but insisted that I take quality golf lessons with PGA professionals, such as Chuck Young and Leonard Jones.
Did you play college golf? If you ever saw the movie "Rudy", I was the real life "Rudy" of Southwest Texas State University (Texas State). As mentioned earlier, I really didn't start playing competitive golf until I was 16. I developed very rapidly, but as everyone knows, golf is more than just learning how to strike the ball. I loved to practice for hours every day. When I was a freshman, I went to the walk-on tryouts for the team. While I didn't make the team, the coach at the time was Jim Bob Jackson who really took me under his wing and allowed me to practice, learn, and play with the team. It was an incredible experience and really helped in the development of my game.
What is your most memorable moment in golf? Playing in the Wylie Moore Public Links Tournament and shooting even par in a tournament for the first time with my dad watching. I don't know who was more excited!
Where is your favorite golf destination that you have played? Shadow Creek G.C. in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Who makes your dream foursome? My son, Luke, Ben Hogan for his incredible ball-striking, and Old Tom Morris to see how the game has evolved and if he likes how the game has changed.
Have you played golf with anyone famous? In Buffalo, New York, I played with a famous gangster, who currently is serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary. I'm leaving out the name because I'm not sure he'd like me to talk about his round.
What is a course that you wish you could play but have yet to have an opportunity to do so? Too many to name, but the usual suspects: Augusta National, Pine Valley G.C., St. Andrews, etc.
What is something interesting about yourself that other members may not know about you? Growing up before I really started playing golf, I actually was a nationally ranked competitive cyclist. Lance Armstrong and I are the same age and met on weekends to race. Also, I am an Eagle Scout.
What are some of your hobbies? I enjoy cooking, gardening and bourbon tastings.
What is your favorite type of music? Depends on the mood I'm in. I enjoy everything from Classic Country to Jazz (Ron Burgundy's Greatest Hits).
What is the best golf book that you would recommend? I'm a history major and have a very extensive golf library, from history of the game to instruction. For historical reading, I've really enjoyed Curt Sampson's books, such as "Hogan" and "The Masters". For instructional reading, I highly recommend "Mind Under Par" by David F. Wright. It's very well written with fantastic drills to help understand the mental side of the game.
What is your go-to karaoke song? "My Wife Thinks Your Dead" by Junior Brown.