Q&A with…Chad Proehl

Iowa native and longtime Des Moines-area resident Chad Proehl, 50, is set to make his PGA TOUR Champions debut at the 2018 Principal Charity Classic.

Proehl, who received a sponsor exemption for this year’s tournament, is the 2017 Iowa Section PGA Champion and a three-time Iowa PGA Player of the Year (2010, ’12 and ’16).

Currently the teaching professional at Sugar Creek Municipal Golf Course in Waukee, Proehl began his club professional career in 1990 at Wakonda Club, host course of the Principal Charity Classic.

RB: What was your reaction when you found out you were receiving a sponsor exemption to play in this year’s Principal Charity Classic?

CP: It was two Fridays ago (May 18).  When I got that call, it was pretty cool.

RB: You have some TOUR experience, playing in the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in the Quad Cities (on the PGA TOUR) three times, and as the 2017 Iowa Section PGA champion, you’re qualified for that event again in 2018. How does that experience help?

CP: I’ve always loved to compete. There are a lot of good golfers in our Iowa Section. This is a whole different deal. But I’m looking forward to the challenge – and I know it’s a huge challenge for me. It’s not like it’s old hat or anything like that. The first John Deere (in 2008), I was so overcome with nerves I didn’t know how to deal with it. So hopefully I’ve learned a little bit along the way, and I can do a better job this time.

RB: And you did make it to the finals of PGA TOUR Champions qualifying last year (at TPC Scottsdale in December).

CP: I got through the initial stage, so that felt great. Then I moved to a stage where guys who had actually made the TOUR but didn’t make the Top 35 were back qualifying. I’m watching these guys make putts, like 12-footers, 20-footers. And I’m wondering how to make a 6- or 7-footer. To be honest, I hit the ball well enough to be competitive.  But I didn’t putt the ball well enough to be competitive. And that really showed up.

RB: Are you going to try and qualify again this year?

CP: Absolutely.

RB: Your golf career started at the Wakonda Club (in 1990). How did that happen?

CP: My college coach at Grand View University was Jack Webb (an Iowa Golf Hall of Famer and a head pro at Wakonda for 19 years). He said, ‘If you want to get in this business, let me make a phone call.’ He called Terry Beardsley (then the head pro at Wakonda). And the next thing I know, I had an assistant’s job.

RB: Wakonda is an old-style golf course with character. You’ve played it a lot. What are your impressions?

CP: There are a lot of things I like about it. Some people don’t like it because of all the hills, and blind shots, and trees. Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, but I love that stuff. I love the uneven lies and having to shape shots. It is an old-style course, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The greens are fast and the rough is long. Unfortunately. More than anything, it’s where I started.

RB: And this will be a home-course advantage for you as far as the gallery, too.

CP: This will be the first time when I get to have my wife and son and daughter all there watching me. My parents and in-laws, too. Plus, all the friends I’ve come across over the years. It’s going to be fun.

RB: Who is going to caddie for you?

CP: My son (Jordan, 19). I can’t wait for him to be there with me. I’m going to love that.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Bernhard Langer, defending champion Brandt Jobe highlight 2018 Principal Charity Classic field.

The Principal Charity Classic®, presented by Wells Fargo, today announced the final player field for its 2018 tournament, set for June 8-10 at historic Wakonda Club near downtown Des Moines.

Defending tournament champion Brandt Jobe, who earned his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory at the 2017 Principal Charity Classic, will be joined in the field of 78 competitors by the following:

  • Past Principal Charity Classic champions Scott McCarron (’16), Mark Calcavecchia (’15), Tom Pernice, Jr. (’14), Russ Cochran (’13) and Jay Haas (’07, ’08, ’12).
  • Bernhard Langer, a two-time Masters Tournament champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member. Langer has 37 career PGA TOUR Champions victories, the second-highest total in TOUR history (Hale Irwin leads with 45). This year will mark Langer’s fifth trip to the Principal Charity Classic, where he finished a career-best fourth in 2017.
  • Corey Pavin, winner of the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and captain of the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team. Pavin, who has 15 career victories on the PGA TOUR, last played at the Principal Charity Classic in 2014. His wife, Lisa (Nguyen) Pavin, grew up in Urbandale, Iowa, and is a University of Iowa graduate.
  • Lee Janzen, a two-time U.S. Open champion and past winner of the PLAYERS Championship. Janzen, who was born in Austin, Minnesota, made his first Principal Charity Classic appearance in 2017.
  • Perennial fan favorites Fred Funk, Tom Lehman, Jesper Parnevik, David Toms and Billy Andrade, who set the current Wakonda Club course record (63) during the second round of the 2016 Principal Charity Classic.
  • Kevin Sutherland, the 2017 Charles Schwab Cup champion. Sutherland finished T2 in his first trip to the Principal Charity Classic last year.
  • Jerry Smith, an Iowa native and 2017 Iowa Golf Hall of Fame inductee. Smith, who received a sponsor exemption to play in the 2014 Principal Charity Classic, went on to earn PGA TOUR Champions Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.

Also included in the 2018 Principal Charity Classic field are five players who received sponsor exemptions:

  • Brian Henninger, a two-time PGA TOUR winner and T2 finisher at the 2015 Principal Charity Classic. Henninger will be making his fifth appearance at Wakonda Club.
  • Len Mattiace, a 2018 PGA TOUR Champions rookie who won twice on the PGA TOUR during his career. Mattiace is often remembered for recording a 7-under 65 in the final round of the 2003 Masters Tournament to earn his way into a playoff with eventual champion Mike Weir.
  • Chad Proehl, an Iowa native and the 2017 Iowa Section PGA champion. Proehl, who is the current teaching pro at Sugar Creek Municipal Golf Course, in Waukee, Iowa, has lived in the Des Moines area for the past 33 years. Proehl began his club professional career in 1990 at Wakonda Club and has also worked locally as a golf professional at both Jester Park Golf Course and Echo Valley Country Club.
  • Mike Small, currently in his 18th year as head men’s golf coach of the University of Illinois, his alma mater. This Spring, he coached the team to its fourth consecutive Big Ten title. Small also has competed on the PGA TOUR and the Web.com Tour, is a three-time winner of the PGA Professional Championship, and in 2017, was named the Senior PGA Professional of the Year. Since turning 50, he has played in seven PGA TOUR Champions events.
  • Willie Wood, winner of two PGA TOUR Champions events – including a memorable victory at the 2012 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, where Wood sank a 35-foot birdie at the end of regulation to force a playoff with Michael Allen. Wood will be playing in his eighth consecutive Principal Charity Classic.

Tickets to the Principal Charity Classic start at just $20 and may be purchased online at principalcharityclassic.com/tickets or at the tournament gates. Kids 15 and under may attend the tournament for free if accompanied by a ticketed adult. Complimentary admission is also provided for all active duty, retired, veteran and reserve military along with their dependents.

For more information, visit principalcharityclassic.com.