Aaron Marks, host of “The Drive” on CBS Sports Radio’s Myrtle Beach affiliate WSEA-FM, recently visited Indian Wells Golf Club in Murrells Inlet, S.C. His interview with Indian Wells’ head golf professional, Joe Dipre, discussed the golf course as well as Dipre’s background as a college football player at the University of Pittsburgh.
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Aaron Marks: So what happens when you get a Hokie alum and a Panther alum together on a radio show on a Tuesday morning at a golf course? We’re going to find out. It’s going to be interesting, though, I can tell you that. Joe Dipre, the head pro and general manager here at Indian Wells Golf Club, also played football for the Pitt Panthers, who we were just having some fun talking about. You guys always were just like the thorn in our side at Virginia Tech. It was like we’d be having a great season, Pitt would be decent, they wouldn’t be great, they wouldn’t be bad, and we’d figure out a way to screw it up.
Joe Dipre: The funny thing is you guys ran the same defense as we did, so in practice the week before, our offense was very well aware of what Virginia Tech was going to play, so come game day, it was very easy for our offense to get together. We had some great athletes out there, Larry Fitzgerald. I remember the game we were talking about.
Aaron Marks: Oh my gosh. (ESPN’s College) Game Day was there, Saturday night, Heinz Field.
Joe Dipre: Yeah, (Fitzgerald) kind of took over that game. He finished second in the Heisman that year. When you had an athlete like that out there on the field, he was the difference maker I think in that game. Our defense was good enough to get us by. I don’t think your offense was really a high-powered offense back then. It was after Michael Vick was there. I think his brother …
Aaron Marks: His brother was there. Kevin Jones.
Joe Dipre: Kevin Jones, yeah, that’s right. Actually I played with Kevin in the National All Star Game down in Dallas.
Aaron Marks: Oh yeah? Nice.
Joe Dipre: The US Army All Star Game. We played together down in Dallas in that game. He’s from Pennsylvania, Kevin is. He’s from the Philadelphia area. I knew a lot of these guys on Virginia Tech, so it was a good win. Obviously when you beat the number 2 team in the country, it’s a good moment.
Aaron Marks: That might have been the coldest day of my life …
Joe Dipre: Well yeah, for us, it was an average day for us. It was normal. Back home now it’s probably 70, so when it gets down in the 30s it’s not a big deal, like for the Southern people. It was an advantage for us. We’re used to it and you guys aren’t.
Aaron Marks: All right, Joe. I want to talk some more football with you in just a minute. Let’s talk about the golf course. You’re here at Indian Wells … So you played college football and you went to some all-star games, so how did you end up in the golf industry?
Joe Dipre: As a kid growing up, my great uncle was a college golf coach as a local university. I just fell in love with the game from a young age. Obviously I played it, not competitively, but for fun. Tyler Palko, who played a little bit in the NFL, and the punter for San Francisco, Andy Lee, he’s actually from South Carolina. We would go out and play a lot of golf during the summers at Pitt.
When football was done, I always wanted to stay competitive in something, but when you get older it’s harder. You can’t strap on a helmet and hit someone anymore, so I got into golf, and I came on a vacation down to Myrtle Beach. I fell in love with the people and the lifestyle, I guess you would say, down here. I started to work for Rick Taylor, who’s now my boss still to this day. I just fell in love with the culture. For me it was about doing something I love to do every day, coming in to work, interacting with people, having a great staff, being able to come to a job where it’s a golf course. In the end, I can get out of my chair, leave the computer and walk outside and be on the driving range in about 50 steps, so it’s pretty cool.
Aaron Marks: Pretty awesome. Talking with Joe Dipre, the head pro and general manager here at Indian Wells Golf Club. Talk to us a little bit about the course. It is a course that starts fast. You better come out ready to hit some shots right out the gate.
Joe Dipre: Yeah, the first hole is a tough par 5. Water everywhere, out of bounds right, water left, a tree about 120 yards out that kind of just sits in the middle of the fairway there. Then you go to number 2 and there’s water left, out of bounds right. You’ve got to place your shots on this golf course. You’ve got to be able to hit a number and keep it in the short grass for sure. I don’t think the length of this golf course is intimidating to anyone, but it’s where you’ve got to hit the ball and the accuracy which you have to really … That’s the challenge of this golf course.
Aaron Marks: I thoroughly enjoyed playing the facility again. It’s a course that you’re going to use all the clubs in the bag.
Joe Dipre: That’s right.
Aaron Marks: So that means a lot of fun.
Joe Dipre: I think that’s the biggest. You’re hitting driver off the tee box. You’re going to hit a five iron and it will probably be off the tee box at one point in time while you’re playing here. I think the course condition, my superintendent Sean Keller has done a great job this spring and into the summer of keeping the course in fantastic shape. The greens are really good right now. Play is showing that. We’re seeing an increase in play based off a couple reasons, but the biggest I think is people enjoy coming out here because the course conditions are so great.
My staff, from the starters and managers to the inside and food and beverage, they do a great job of making every customer feel welcome. It’s really a great atmosphere to come play golf. I’ll tell you that much. I was just going to say, we get a lot of families out this time of year. I think that’s an important part because I think the kids really enjoy playing out here too.