By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Monique Thoresz is an award-winning PGA Golf Professional who’s worked at such storied Metropolitan PGA Section clubs as Sunningdale Country Club, Westchester Country Club and The Apawamis Club.
She is now the PGA Director of Instruction at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, New York and has quite an interesting history to share. She didn’t play golf until she was in college, higher learning that would lead to a law degree from Pace University. In the end, golf won out and Thoresz has been teaching the game ever since. Check out her story in this month’s edition of Five Questions.
Golf Range Magazine: Can you tell me about your start in golf? How old were you and who got you into the game?
Thoresz: I didn’t grow up playing golf, though I did play just about every other sport imaginable. My start in golf came later than most PGA Professionals. As a math major and education minor at Pace University, I had always planned on a career in teaching. Little did I know the subject matter would change so drastically. I went on to Pace University Law School after attaining my bachelor’s degree rather than starting a teaching career. While in law school I played golf with a family friend on a few occasions, not taking it seriously at all, but figuring it might be something good to know as my law career blossomed.
I started playing more frequently after getting my law degree and realized I liked it a lot. So, I got my first set of clubs at a garage sale and began to see my skills improve. I took lessons and got more serious about the game, and before I knew it, I was becoming a golfer.
After six years of practicing law, as well as the game of golf, golf won out. I went to Georgetown, Texas and took a job in a local golf shop, while being able to play and practice as much as I wanted all year. I moved back in with my family who had relocated to Texas and worked as a shop attendant – it wasn’t even an assistant professional role at that time. I discovered that it was possible to make a living teaching golf, and I made up my mind to do just that – I didn’t know how I would get there, but I knew that I would.
Golf Range Magazine: When did you know you wanted to become a PGA Professional?
Thoresz: When I decided to make golf my career, I honestly had very little evidence to suggest that I would be successful. But I was determined and I was bold, and I cold-called a well-known teacher I frequently saw on the Golf Channel who happened to work at a club in Westchester County, New York, which is where I’m from. Before long, I was working for Michael Breed at Sunningdale Country Club, first as a shop manager and later as an assistant professional. I spent two years there and went to Westchester Country Club fully committed to teaching after being educated and inspired by Breed, one of the best in the game. I studied and kept learning, watching people teach and getting better every day.
After eight years at WCC, where I attained PGA membership, I took a role at The Apawamis Club and was PGA Director of Instruction for almost 12 years. This winter, I came over to Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, New York, the same town where it all started 21 years ago. The whole trajectory of my career was shaped because Michael Breed gave me an opportunity.
Golf Range Magazine: What programs do you have that bring new golfers to the game and enhance the enjoyment of existing players?
Thoresz: I’ve been fortunate to spend time around so many great teachers, and I’ve squeezed every bit of information I could from them, all of which has prepared me to help golfers of all levels. I have a passion for teaching and helping people learn, as well as a compassion for the golfer who’s striving to improve. After all, golf is so hard that any progress I can help my students make is a good thing for them. Golfers always tell me how late they got started in the game, and when I tell them my story, it helps them understand that it’s not when you start playing, but that you never stop trying to improve.
I run a lot of clinics because I can touch a lot of people at once. You often teach people in clinics who you wouldn’t otherwise see, members who come out to brush up on a single aspect of their game that’s been hindering their progress. They might not hit you up for a private lesson but prefer instead to join their fellow members in a group environment. It’s an important way to connect with members.
I run clinics for women, couples and juniors and do them on the range, short game area and the golf course itself. We work on the full swing, chipping, pitching, bunker play and putting, and discuss course management, shot selection, etiquette and the mental game, giving students a broad education so they are as well-rounded as they can be.
My Quaker Ridge clinics are primarily single-topic sessions where we spend an hour laser-focused on one thought – bunkers, chipping, pitching, putting, etc. My Never Three-Putt and Short Putt Domination clinics are popular in helping members read greens and develop a reliable putting stroke that will help them lower their scores and enjoy the game more than ever.
I also run half-day short game schools that cover chipping, pitching, putting and bunkers in one three-hour session. These clinics are ideal for people who are busy most of the week but have a few hours on a Saturday to attend a class. Full swing clinics cover topics such as uneven lies and speed training for greater distance.
I offer monthly subscription plans with dates, times and topics set in advance that enable participants to attend as many clinics as they can within the month. This adds value to what students pay and works well within their busy schedules. They can plan accordingly and brush up on specific areas of the game.
Finally, my Committed Athlete Program is a subscription-based program for middle- and high-school golfers striving to play at the next level. I provide the full coaching experience in this seven-month program that goes beyond technical swing instruction. I help them plan their tournament schedule, attend their events and even meet with parents to help guide their son or daughter on the track for success.
I run games and contests that students tackle in their own practice and report their results to the group. We use the honor system as a tool to teach the integrity and sportsmanship that have been part of golf for so many years. I’m very excited about growing this program at Quaker Ridge Golf Club.
I also work with golfers one-on-one of course, as you’ll always have your lesson-takers who appreciate the personal engagement that focuses directly on their skills and deficiencies. I spend a lot of time on the TrackMan with my high-level juniors and low-handicap members, getting their numbers to find that extra edge where ever we can.
Golf Range Magazine: What do you love most about the game of golf? The business of golf?
Thoresz: I’m in love with practicing the game, with the chase of perfection that I know is impossible. I like the fact that the work is never done and it’s a never-ending search. I’m inspired like never before to get up in the morning and practice my own game prior to starting my busy day of teaching.
The business of golf is a challenging one. We spend countless hours educating ourselves so we can provide the best product to our students. As I mentioned already, I love helping people, and providing a pathway for them to not only improve their skills but to enjoy the game more is incredibly satisfying for me. I love being the person who helps someone see that golf is attainable, that they can do it, no matter when they started playing. I think people can do anything, and I never count anyone out, no matter how late they’ve started or how little experience with other sports they may have. I’m the coach who believes in them and shows them how to be an athlete and how to keep striving to get better a little bit at a time.
Golf Range Magazine: What does the future hold for Monique Thoresz in the game of golf?
Thoresz: I want to have a lasting impact on my facility. Quaker Ridge is such a great club with an incredible membership that I want to help ensure a bright future. Between my strong programming, private lessons and daily engagement, I want members to reap the rewards of being a golfer in this amazing area of the country. I want to build the junior program, improve the women’s program and provide a framework for a comprehensive instructional program that runs on cohesiveness and collaboration.
I want to work with our PGA Head Professional Mario Guerra to train our assistant professionals to be better and carry the torch into the future. Being a mentor is a title I couldn’t imagine having when I picked up a golf club for the very first time, but two decades later, it’s incredibly important to me.