ROCHESTER — Lyle Lingenfelter stays quite busy at the Round Barn Golf Club in Rochester, where he is in his 18th year as a golf professional.
He listed his comprehensive litany of duties as managing the course, organizing tournaments and outings, working with the budget, dealing with employees and staffing issues, overseeing course maintenance, running the pro shop, brewing coffee, cooking hot dogs and doing “pretty much everything day to day.”
He also noted an activity — actually somewhat of a potentially hazardous venture — not in his job description: discussing religion and politics.
“I do like to get conversation started. I have very strong beliefs in both,” but he approaches the subjects with tact and respect, so there are rarely any “ramifications.”
“Every once in a while we’ll have heated discussion, but most of the guys who come in in the morning like to talk about it,” he said. “The news cycle of the day drives the conversation and we will have a good, fun discussion.”
Lingenfelter distinguished his job as golf professional at the city-owned course from being a professional golfer, who, he said, “plays golf for a living.”
Lingenfelter played golf in high school, but Indiana State University, where he earned a degree in accounting, did not have a golf team. So while attending classes, he served a three-year apprenticeship with the Professional Golfers Association.
Lingenfelter estimated he has played “120 to 150” different courses, most in Indiana, but also some in Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Louisiana, where he lived for 10 years. “It’s a great thing to be around your passion and hobby,” he said.
Lingenfelter also collects golf clubs and has amassed about 750 clubs so far. Most of them range from the 1950s to the 1980s, many made from persimmon or laminated maple, but he also has a hickory set from the 1920s he occasionally takes out on the course. “You can’t hit the ball as far,” he said, “because the design of the clubs is different.”
He said technology has changed the game for amateurs. “Modern clubs are more forgiving. There are a lot of features built in to help golfers and their compensate for their flaws. But those at the highest competitive level don’t really need those clubs because they hit the ball solid.”
He noted “two types of frustration” among golfers. First, those who are “very new to the game and not good at all have trouble actually striking or getting the ball airborne. They will get a huge benefit from lessons and actual practice.”
The second type of frustration applies to those who are “getting better” and have expectations mismatched with reality. “The biggest problem is they expect a certain score every time they play. But that depends on other factors, such as the weather and how they feel.”
Some level of frustration is endemic to the sport, so Lingenfelter suggested, “put down cellphones, get outside, enjoy the fresh air and the people you are with and hopefully enjoy the game, too.”
Lingenfelter and Cana, his wife of 26 years, have 10 children ranging from 8 to 26 years old, with five in college and five at home.
He said Round Barn has two practice greens for putting and chipping “open all the time and free to use.” The driving range and pitching area are also free for those who bring their own balls and clubs.
“There is no reason not to come out and get started,” he said. “Call me at (574) 223-5717 or text me at (574) 835-5418.”