From the time he was 10 years old, Fishers resident Alan Schulte has been swinging a golf club, honing his game and building his golf career. I caught up with this golf pro and PGA member at his home course of Hawthorn Country Club one overcast morning. We sat outside overlooking a perfectly manicured putting green while I gathered some insights on this local pro; his life, career and what keeps him going.
Schulte had a pretty impressive and busy summer on the links, taking second in sudden death at the PGA Professional National Championship at Atunyote Golf Club in Vernona, NY in June. This performance qualified him for a spot in the 88th PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club in August, alongside pros like Tiger Woods (who went on to win it), Phil Mickelson and many other household names in golf. While Schulte didn’t make the cut after the first two rounds in Medinah, he reflected on how much he enjoyed just being there and being able to experience all of it. “It was an incredible amount of fun just to be in it. The practice rounds were an experience I will never forget,” he said. He was paired with Steve Lowery from Alabama and Richard Green of Australia for the tournament, and he remembers how it was hard not to get worked up over the whole experience: “To tee it up, see those lines of people down each side and the grandstands, that’s when you realize this is a huge, huge deal.”
Schulte was born and raised in Oneonta, an upper, rural area of New York. Growing up in a country setting, Alan believes, significantly shaped his ability to concentrate, focus and challenge himself. He enjoyed sports and remembers having to proactively find things to do to make life interesting as a kid. “My brothers and I made an 18-hole chipping course and three greens in our yard. We just lowered the blade on the lawnmower and did it,” he said. “It helped to be rural, you have to create things on your own more. I was able to focus, there weren’t a lot of distractions around me.” This experience laid the foundation for the introspective, self-challenging and centered mindset that makes him a true pro in the sport of golf today.
In high school, Schulte’s graduating class was just 34 kids. He was the only golfer in the entire school, so there was no team to speak of, he was basically it. One of his teachers wrote a letter to the state high school association requesting Schulte be able to participate in the state high school tournament as an independent. Fortunately he was allowed to do so, and from there his golf career got its start. He participated in various tournaments throughout high school and won the New York State Junior Amateur Championship in 1980. This opened the door to landing a partial scholarship at Old Dominion in Norfolk, VA where he went to college. Going to a small college also proved to be a pivotal experience for him since he always got to play. “It was the perfect school for me,” he remembered. “I got to play right away and travel with the team, so I improved all along the way.”
After college, Schulte worked at courses in New York and Florida working his way up through tournaments while further developing his skill. He remembers a few influential people he encountered along the way that helped his game, mostly through honest advice and playing. He heard “you’re going nowhere with that swing” one day from now long time friend and fellow PGA member Joe Andron. Andron coached Schulte in Florida everyday in the winters and never accepted a dime. “I’ve been fortunate to be around people that like to play and who want to pass that opportunity on to others,” he reflected. Schulte now passes on his knowledge having experienced that gift passed on to him.
Playing and enjoying it is what Schulte has spent his years doing, and it’s the advice he has for young aspiring golfers and parents, thereof, “Get them out playing,” he said. “Lessons can be too serious. Let them want to do it, let them learn to love it.” When you’re having fun, you perform better.” Sage advice coming from someone who truly enjoys the game and has built a career on it.
So how did Schulte get to Fishers after New York, Florida, and a few other stops along the way? He became acquainted with Indianapolis through visiting a college roommate who was a golf pro here. He liked it here and moved to Fishers in 1991 and has been here ever since. He worked at Hillcrest Country Club before coming over the Hawthorn Country Club in Hamilton Proper five years ago where he works currently.
In talking about where he is today in his career, and how he ‘stays the course’ year after year, he explains, “Playing, building up my ability, and shutting out all the rest.” His biggest accomplishment? “You never forget the experience of playing in the PGA.”
So what’s next for Alan Schulte? While he doesn’t profess to have a master plan, he wants to continue to pass on what he’s learned to others, and, of course, strive to qualify for Regionals and the U.S. Open. In staying true to that focus that’s brought him much success, and peace of mind, he said he plans to take it “one day at a time.”