Q&A spotlight: Bill Porter, veteran club and tour pro
Q: You are the son of a late club pro, right?
A: Yes. My father, Bill, was the pro at the course in Othello when I was a fourth-grader through my freshman year in high school. Then he took a job at a course in Umatilla, Ore. I lived with my mother in Quincy but would spend my summers with him and play a lot of golf. When I was a senior, I played football and basketball at Quincy, then moved in the spring to Umatilla and won the Oregon small-school state golf championship.
Q: After one year at the University of Oregon, you left to work at Sudden Valley Golf and Country Club in Bellingham. Did you get to play much?
A: I did, thanks to Ron Hass, the head pro who now owns Avalon in Burlington. Normally, if you're interested in playing golf, the last place you should work is a golf course. That's because everybody works 60-80 hours a week during the season. Ron was very sympathetic to what I wanted to do. I got to work a straight 40-hour week.
Q: You and your wife, Liz, moved to Orlando in 1982 so you could improve your game. Talk about those years.
A: After I had been at Sudden Valley about three years, I met a guy from Orlando who told me I should go there and play the mini-tours if I wanted to get really good. Liz and I went and both worked odd jobs as I pursued my dream of playing on the PGA Tour. I did everything from give lessons to deliver pizza and work at Disney World. Liz worked different jobs and also finished her degree in special education. In 1989, we moved back to our Central Washington roots in Quincy.
Q: How did you get on the Nike Tour and later the PGA Tour for the 1995 season?
A: I worked at the new course in Quincy for a couple years and my game was deteriorating. I became friends with John Molitor, a former Seattle University golfer and a top local amateur. He encouraged me to give it another try and raised money for me to go to Qualifying School. I earned my Hogan (later Nike Tour) card and then he organized a sponsorship group.
My best year on the Nike Tour was 1994, when I won the Louisiana Open and got exempted into the last stage of Qualifying School where I earned my 1995 PGA Tour card.
After I got my card, I made a big mistake. I didn't relax and take a break before the season started. I spent all my time trying to improve and when the season started, I was tired and toast. I think I just made one cut in the first two months. I never had a great tournament that year and lost my card (finishing 178th on the money list with $68,390 and two top-20 finishes).
Q: You're 41 and the teaching pro at Lakeview Golf and Country Club in Soap Lake. You've won seven Northwest PGA regional "majors," including three Oregon Opens. Talk about the 62 you shot this year at the Giusti Memorial at Riverside in Portland.
A: It was the strangest thing. I was lucky to shoot 75 the first day, and when I was warming up the second day I was putting so bad I couldn't make 2-footers. I was so desperate that I asked my amateur playing partner for advice on my putting. Finally, I just decided to forget about any mechanics and play as aggressively as possible. I birdied the first three holes. I wound up with 10 birdies and the low round of my life.
Q: Any tip for those of us who can't break 80 or 90?
A: Four words: "More target, less mechanics." When you're over the ball, focus more on where you want it to go. Look at the target a couple times. Then think target and don't worry so much about swing mechanics.