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?
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