Zachary Creed (Zack) was raised on a steady diet of sports; basketball, hockey, baseball but ultimately fell in love with golf. The Oakville, Ontario-born golfer was groomed for success on the fairway at a young age. After playing in high school, Zack went on to study Professional Golf Management (PGM) and recreation management at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) where he was honored as the 2009 Player of the Year.
Zack then worked as an Assistant Golf Professional at a top 100 Club, Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. A highlight of his tenure there was serving as a liaison for the U.S. Senior Open Championship in 2011 and for the 2012 BMW (Fedex playoff). He qualified for and played in the 2012 and 2013 Indiana Open tournaments, and was a finalist for Indiana Professional of the Year in 2014, while working as co-first assistant professional at Highland Golf & Country Club in Indianapolis from 2014-15.
Today, Zack Creed is parlaying his love for teaching the game and, with the help of family, looking forward to operating his own business; a family golf center set to open in his hometown of Oakville later this fall. Ahead of that milestone, we sat down to talk to Zack Creed about his passion for the sport, including how he stays focused after years of playing at some of golf’s toughest courses.
Whether you are a recreational or tournament golfer, keeping your mind in the game is crucial to a successful round. How do you stay mentally focused, even as a seasoned golfer?
Zack Creed: I honestly believe, as do many other players I’ve talked to, that golf is 90% mental and 10% ability, especially at the advanced level. Half of the battle is learning how to control your emotions on the course. It’s so easy to jump forward to the outcome of the game, but it’s critical to stay focused on the present. You have got to play as if winning doesn’t matter. Inevitably, even the most skilled golfer will have a bad game. The good news is, mental toughness is not unteachable. It takes a bit of patience, some practice and self awareness to play at a higher level than you are currently at. Don’t allow one bad shot to ruin your entire game by letting frustration and negativity get inside your head.
You’ve been playing golf for close to two decades. In your opinion, how has technology changed the game for the better?
Zack Creed: Technology, like in most sports, has drastically changed the ease of how we access the game. Mobile apps allow us to check in to a golf club from our smartphones. Golfers can practice their swing any time of the year using luxury simulator experiences and players can simply turn to the internet to book a tee time or keep track of their handicap and scores. The game of golf has taken major strides to bring the sport to more people than ever before. And, of course, technological advancements in equipment enable us to hit it longer and more accurately.
As an instructor, how do you help your students improve their game?
Zack Creed: Most importantly, I want my students to know that I want them to leave a better golfer than when they came in, whether that be through lessons or any of my services. I think the first thing a player has to do to get better is figure out where his or her game needs the most improvement. Is it the swing? Putting technique? Focus on one area and go from there. When I work with experienced golfers, one of the first things I do before every lesson is to review their game stats. That gives me an idea of what we should work on during the lesson. I also suggest that my students keep simple statistics of actual rounds on their own — fairways hit, greens in regulation, short game up and downs and total putts. From this, players can determine weaknesses and work to improve them.
Golf is inevitably the most private sport played publicly. Do you agree?
Zack Creed: One hundred percent. I look back on my own journey and I think of how many hours I have spent on the course practicing my swing, chipping and putting. Golf is unlike most other sports, where you’re always paired up with someone or you’re a part of a team. It’s a totally different mind-set and atmosphere. Some would argue it’s a selfish sport, but I don’t believe that at all. It’s about the passion for the game.
If you look back on your career thus far, can you say what your best moment was?
Zack Creed: My truly best moments are always when I work with someone that is so frustrated they are thinking about giving up the game then, through patient instruction, they “fix” their swings. The joy they express when they have this “a-ha”moment is unmatchable.
On a more personable level, helping out on the PGA tour at a young age was an incredible experience. And the satisfaction of seeing students from my Advanced Junior Golf Programs (for aspiring professionals, and college and high school standouts) succeed at tournament play ranks way up there. On a more selfish level, I’ve had the opportunity to play alongside celebrities, sports stars and politicians and listen to some really tall stories! I am looking forward to the next 10 years and can’t wait to see what my future holds.