To commemorate his 50th year as a PGA of America Class A professional, Robin All celebrates in his usual manner — teaching and playing the game.
The career that he says started out “with not really a plan” evolved into his competing in a major championship, serving some of the nation’s most revered clubs and rubbing elbows with some of the game’s most storied names.
“It’s been fun,” said All, who has lived in the Columbia area since 1985.
The PGA of America recognizes the golden anniversaries of its Class A members, but his pro days started earlier. He spent five years as an apprentice, beginning at the Country Club of Charleston under Al Esposito, and worked under — and learned from — Hall of Famer Henry Picard for three years.
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His association with Picard included stints at Canterbury Golf Club near Cleveland and Seminole in Palm Beach, Fla. He spent time in Buffalo, N.Y., and five years at Yeamans Hall near Charleston, and he found time to test his skills on the PGA Tour.
That last venture “ended unsuccessfully,” he said and laughed, “and I had to go back to work.”
“Back to work” meant teaching, and the lessons received from Picard would be his base. In addition, watching the game’s top pros — including Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Tommy Armour — hone their games during the winter at Seminole proved to be time well spent.
“I spent too much time trying to be a (Tour-caliber) player, and I tried the Tour 10 years too late,” the 73-year-old said. “I did get into the PGA one year and later I played in the Senior PGA, but all I have done since 1982 is teach.”
The game has changed — especially with technology in the equipment area and in development opportunities on mini-tours — since All, a Charleston native, discovered golf. He remembers playing in the 1965 PGA at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania when only Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd hit 280-yard drives and, he said, “Now that’s short for the pros.”
“In my (playing) days, success was based on talent and not fitness,” he said. “Besides, we enjoyed life too much. After eight hours on the golf course, we had a lot of time on our hands.”
Like the equipment, teaching theories change, and All calls instruction “still a learning process.” The lessons learned from Picard and at Seminole still work, but there’s always something new like video that shows a player’s swing and the technology that measures launch angles, swing speeds, spin rates and such.
All has cut back on his schedule a bit, but he said, “I still love to teach, enjoy teaching and love to share” with his students. “I will always be either teaching or playing.”
The Midlands Chevy Dealers City Tournament will be played July 18-20 at Spring Valley, and two open qualifying opportunities — June 15 and July 6, both at Spring Valley — are available to non-exempt players. Entry forms have been mailed to exempt players. Others can download an entry blank online at fairwayoutreach.org. Call tournament director Bobby Foster — (803) 782-8707 or (803) 609-0542 — for additional information. ... Josh Gallman (Gaffney/USC Upstate) advanced to U.S. Open sectional qualifying in local competition in Greensboro, N.C. Wesley Bryan (Columbia/USC) is first alternate. In local qualifying at Pinehurst, McCuen Elmore (Cheraw/Clemson), Kamito Hirai (Summerville) and Paul Brown (Hartsville) advanced.