Eric Steindel – Linville Golf Club’s young, popular head pro
Bill Hensley / (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bright and talented, he is the head golf professional at the famed mountain course, and his teaching skills are becoming widely known and appreciated. By the end of the season, he will have given more than 425 lessons to members and guests.
Occasionally, when he is not on the practice tee at Linville, he can be found at Mountaineer Driving Range in Boone as a volunteer instructor giving free lessons to youngsters.
“I thoroughly enjoy working with all types of players,” he smiled. “That includes beginners as well as accomplished players who are having swing problems. My reward is seeing someone improve.”
Steindel, a native of Spring Brook Township, Penn. — a Scranton suburb — joined the Linville staff in 2009 and is in his fourth year. He spends the summers, from May through October, in the mountains, and the winter months, November to April, at Mountain Lake in Lake Wales, Fla.
“As a PGA professional,” he said, “I have the luxury of chasing the endless summer.”
The friendly, personable pro is also one of the High Country’s better players, and he relishes the competition with fellow professionals. His best score at Linville from the championship tees is 66, and he had a 64 at Mountain Lake, a par 70 layout.
The youthful Steindel, 28, learned the game from the ground up, having worked as an intern at several prestigious clubs under the tutelage of such seasoned veterans as Cleve Coldwater at Glenmaura National, Pentti Tofferi at Cordillera and Ted Antonoplous at Mayacama.
He took up the game when he was 14, encouraged by his orthopedic surgeon father, who was hoping his son would be a baseball player. “My dad was heartbroken the day I told him I was giving up baseball for golf. Nevertheless, he always nurtured my interest,” he remarked.
At North Pocono High School, he was a four-year All-Star and made the All-Regional team twice. In 1999, Steindel won the Keystone Public Golf Association’s state championship for players aged 14 to 16.
After graduation, he enrolled at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, S.C., a site he discovered on family vacations to the area. “I liked the area, the climate and the many golf courses,” he offered. “And the school wasn’t so bad either.
“I wanted to try out for the team as a walk-on,” he commented, “but there was just too much talent. Dustin Johnson was the team’s top player, and he had a strong supporting cast. So I worked on my game and studied.”
He earned a degree in business marketing in 2006.
With degree in hand, he accepted a job as an assistant at Gulph Mills Golf Club in Philadelphia and continued to work on his accreditation. He became a Class A professional in 2007.
Steindel said that there are six competencies necessary to becoming a successful golf pro and cited outstanding customer service, sound management, creative merchandising, a passion for teaching, tournament operations and playing ability.
“Those are the things I work on daily,” said the popular pro. “My mentor, Thomas Dale, who is the golf director at Linville, has always reminded me that our job is to make a better day for our members and guests.”
Steindel said he is not a “method” teacher and that his philosophy is based on developing a lifelong passion for the game of golf. “I try to communicate fundamental golf techniques in a manner that best suits each student. Too many instructors teach how to swing the club but forget to teach how to play the game.”
Steindel was married in 2010 to Julie Cook of Winter Haven, Fla., and the couple has a seven-month-old son, William.
When he is not teaching or playing, Steindel is an avid angler and sportsman. “I learned to hunt and fish at an early age and do it as often as I can. One of the best things about the High Country is that these activities are so commonplace.”
What most folks don’t know about the rising pro star is that he is one of those rare ambidextrous characters who can switch hands easily and with regularity. He plays golf and fishes right handed, but he eats, writes, shoots a gun and plays the guitar left handed.
“I guess I don’t think much about it,” he laughed, “but when it comes to teaching golf, I do it with both hands on the wheel.”
And so he does …