Golf at Altitude

As told to Doug Ottewill

Doug: So what do you like about Fossil Trace?
Kyle: The thing I love about Fossil Trace is it’s up and down terrain; you never know what you’re going to see. You might be hitting around a 100 foot boulder or a tractor. You can reach par 5s in two. You can easily quadruple a par 3. The Jim Engh style allows you to hit it on the green.

What do you say to the purists who say they don’t like that?
I say you gotta challenge yourself; you can’t always be playing standard golf courses. You gotta be able to change your game according to the course. And this is a course that offers anything. It challenges every club in your bag.

So are you a gadget guy?
I love the gadgets. I got the watch. I got the shoes that don’t tie – you tie them in the back. I’ve got small tees for par-3s. Big tees (for par-5s). I’ve got two different putters, four wedges. I re-grip every single year and I’ve had three different sets of irons in the last three or four years.

So you like the newest technology?
I’m all about distance and hitting greens in regulation, and if I can get an advantage from the clubs, I’ll take it.

Are you a seasonal golfer or do you golf all the time?
I try to play every month, at least one time every month through the winter months. And during the summer months I try to play at least 60 times.

What’s your best round ever?
My best round ever was actually up in Aspen, at the Trashmasters Charity Golf Tournament, and it was in the 60s. But my average score is usually anywhere from 75-80.

Where’d you start playing?
I’ve played golf my entire life; I wasn’t good enough to make the high school golf team. I played rugby in college. I’ve always just been really competitive. I love playing with my buddies. I love playing for money or drinks. I’m about a six handicap. I can shoot anywhere from 75-90, depending on how angry I get. But I would say this is what I love: I love my family, I love hockey and I love golf.

I’m amazed that you could not make your high school golf team in Wyoming considering how you play now. Was it a really good team? Or you did not play that much?
It was just that I wasn’t very good. I didn’t get very good until I got out of college. When I got out of college, I concentrated on the game more; I started playing more, caring more about golf and less about girls.

So tell me about this famous hole-in-one of yours – the “greatest hole-in-one of all time.”
I hit a hole-in-one during a tournament at City Park about four years ago. It was four-man scramble and we had started the tournament on hole No. 5, which meant we finished on No. 4, which was a par-3. We needed a birdie to win the tournament. It’s 207 yards. I used a Nike 1 ball and a 4-iron. Got up there to hit and dunked it on the fly. Never bounced, went straight in the hole. I had no idea if it went in or if it went off the flagstick. The marshal went up there and started dancing around. I looked back and there’s a sign right there that says “Hole-in-One $10,000.” So I ended up winning the tournament and I won 10 grand on the same hole.

Wow. And you paid the taxes?
Huh?

What’s the worst round of your adult life?
I’ve had a round of like, high 90s, where it was 100 percent yips, where I honestly considered quitting the game. I played with guys and they were like, “He might be the worst golfer I’ve ever seen” – and they were friends.

What is your philosophy on Mulligans? Like, when are you okay to take a Mulligan? When do you not take a Mulligan? When do you encourage your playing partners to take them and when do you not?
It’s never okay to take a Mulligan if you’re playing for money. I’m a big believer in “two off the first tee box” as long as everybody agrees on it. But if you’re out just kicking around with your boys and you want to take one – and you especially give one to anybody that’s 14 over par after four holes. You make their life easier; you give them a cold beer and you pat them on the back.

What’s your philosophy on gimmes?
I’m big on gimmes because I like everybody to enjoy their round. Again, it’s all about who you’re playing with. You can tell right away – you can tell within the first 15 minutes of playing with somebody if it’s a gimme round or not. And if it’s not a gimme round, then it’s usually not going to be a fun round.

If you’re playing by yourself?
Putt em out. Putt em out.

Does your job accommodate golf well?
I play once a month during the hockey season if the weather. During the summer, with Golf at Altitude, I try and play as many times as I can during the show, around the show, with sponsors, with clients.

Talk a little bit about Golf at Altitude.
Golf at Altitude – to me – is the greatest job on planet Earth because you get to go to the best golf courses Colorado has to offer. You get to golf and you’re paid to do it. Plus, you get to work on your game and you get to meet a bunch of great people.

Do you ever get to go in the helicopter?
For another show I was in it, but no I’ve never been in the helicopter. I was in a helicopter once and I threw up in the helicopter and the second I stepped out of the helicopter. And I’ll never do it again.

Aside from the helicopter, Golf at Altitude seems like a really solid gig.
Golf with Altitude is the best because you get up at 6 o’clock in the morning, you’re at the course by 7:30, it’s perfect weather, perfect conditions, you get to see every hole on the course, and then you get to play it. Golf to me is like a serious addiction. It’s like women with shoes. Once you buy one pair of shoes you want another; once you play one course, you want to play another. Golf during the months of April, May, June, July, August and September is a race against yourself to see how good or how bad you can get and how much golf you can play.

Who is the best golf player on the Avalanche?
I probably have to say Alex Tanguay the best golfer on the Avs right now. Patrick Roy – definitely – is the best coach who plays. I got to play with Roy at the Avalanche golf tournament, and he. Was. A . Beast. He can hit it as far as I’ve ever seen anybody hit.

Patrick an awesome golfer. Tanguay is an awesome golfer. Ryan Wilson is a great golfer. Cody Mac is a good golfer. Factors a great golfer with great touch. Duchene has got great hands. Mitchell can play.

Roy is competitive; he’s super fun, avery real guy, but a great golfer – a huge competitor. He made me better but I had so much fun playing with him it didn’t matter.

How about Sakic?
Joe Sakic is better than anyone in the organization. Sakic is definitely on a different level. He’s like a “one” maybe, but Sakic is better than everyone. He’s the best; I’ve only got to play with him once. But he is long, competitive, fun.

Is he quiet?
No not at all. Not quiet at all. Those guys are such super people, that it makes golf that much more fun because you get to learn about the person and the golfer. They’re just like normal dudes, except really, really good.

Greatest golf movie ever? Caddy Shack or Happy Gilmore? Or do you go somewhere else like Tin Cup?
The golfer inside me says Caddy Shack, but the beer drinker inside me says Happy Gilmore.

Not that you ever drink on the course.
Not that I do.

Who’s your dream foursome?
My dream foursome is actually a six-some. My dream six-some is myself, my older brother Chris, my younger brother Casey, Chris Farley – God bless his soul – Vince Vaughn, and Tiger Woods. I think it’d be an interesting combination watching Tiger and Farley interact for four hours.

What do you like most about your job?
I like the rush; I like the rush of live T.V. I love the people I work with. I think that covering sports is a dream job. I wanted to cover sports since I was 16 years old. If you love it and your passionate about it, what’s a better job than hockey, golf, high school football, college football, lacrosse – I mean, to say it’s a dream job is an understatement.

Are you a superstitious golfer and if so what are your golf superstitions?
I am superstitious only on the driving range. If my first 10 shots are bad, I might as well just put my clubs back in my car and head home because it’s going to be a horrible day.

Have you ever done that?
No. I go out and shoot 90. If I’m hitting it well on the range it’ll be a good, normal day. If I’m hitting it bad, I might as well go to the mall and hang out with my five-year-old.

What are some of your favorite Colorado courses?
I love the Raven at Three Peaks up in Silverthorne. I love both Breckenridge and Keystone and I think Inverness is a great golf course. And I’m a city course guy and I live right next to Wellshire, so that has to be one of my top courses as well. And of course, I love the scenery and fun of playing Fossil Trace.

What’s your favorite hole at Fossil Trace?
No. 12 is probably my favorite hole at Fossil Trace. Long par-5. Huge boulders. Right in the middle of the canyon. Risk reward, tough green, long, beautiful. Scenic. Historic.

If you could play any course in the world where would it be?
If I could play anywhere, hands down, no doubt about it, heaven on Earth, it’d be Augusta National.

No British open? None of that stuff?
I’m a fair weather golfer. I like the warm sun and I like to soak it in. I think Augusta in mid-April right after they finish the Masters would be a dream come true.”

Have you ever played Cherry Hills?
I have played Cherry Hills. It’s one of my favorite courses here in Denver. Unfortunately, I’m not a member anywhere so I don’t get to play all the nice country clubs, but it’s an awesome course. I got to play three holes with Mark Wieby there when we shot a show with him. He was a terrific guy. I’ve gotten to play there a few other times. It’s probably the best course in Denver, Colorado. I think Denver Country Club is awesome but you just don’t get the chance to play those very often so, and I think I was horrible the day I played it.

So you have a five-year-old-daughter, are you going teach her to golf?
I already have, I bought my five-year-old daughter a set of clubs last year. It’s got a driver, a putter, and a five iron. I take her over to Wellshire to hit balls, and all she does is dig for worms. It’ll be a long road, but I think she likes hanging out with daddy. And then she likes to hit them in the water, go down there, chase it, dig for bugs. I can through about two buckets of balls while she finds 50 rollie pollies.

You’ve played in the “Little Dillie.” Tell me about it.
I’m from Casper, Wyoming so it’s sort of a homecoming every time that I go there every June. It’s four days, all your best buddies from high school, my dad, my dad’s friends. You basically go out there and are flighted in 16 different flights. Your goal is to win your flight, make it to the derby, and somehow win the championship. I won it once, many, many years ago. As I get older, the goals certainly changes, it’s about going down there, having fun, having some beers and some laughs, and rekindling with my old buddies, but it’s still a tournament that one day I want to win again.

Growing up as a golfer in Wyoming, does it make you better? Because it’s windy all the time, or is that just a stereotype?
The wind in Wyoming is not a stereotype at all, I think that if you go to Wyoming and think you’re going to shoot a low score just because it’s Wyoming, you’re horribly mistaken. The wind can blow anywhere from 40-60 mph any day. It could be 80 degrees and still be blowing 50, or it could be 40 degrees the next day, and still be blowing 60. So it makes your golf game a lot more difficult.

Is it an underrated state for Golf? Are there some really cool courses?
Casper country club, inside Casper is one of the best. It’s one of the greatest memberships you can have. Everybody that lives there belongs to the club. They offer really affordable rates. And everybody seems to be friends. Old Baldie is another one. If you get a chance to play Old Baldie, you’ll be shockingly surprised how pristine it is. It reminds me a lot of Augusta in the shape that they keep it. The greens are really fast, the lies are very tight, the rough is really thick. It really challenges your brain as well as your golf game.

Tell me about Mark Rycroft and his suits.
Do you know how much LeBron cares about basketball? That’s how much Rycroft cares about his clothes. He tries so hard to look good, and there are times that he comes in and says to me, “Huh?”- with his arms wide open – “How do I look?” And I say, “You look like Colonel Sanders on Halloween Night.” But he loves it. He loves the attention, but he does spend a lot of money on those clothes. I love Rycroft. He makes my job so much more enjoyable. The fans love him. The players love him. He makes T.V. easy to watch.

He’s a very good analyst – says it like it is – but do you ever find yourself telling him, “Dude, you have to back off a little.”?
If Rycroft was walking a cliff, when dealing with sensitive subjects, I would say I’m holding him with one hand. So, he walks it very carefully. He’s very, very good at what he does; he’s very honest. He knows the game well, he knows the players, but sometimes I definitely have to pull him back a little bit. And sometimes I can’t catch him, and that’s when I hide from the cameras, and just go to break.

Do the guys on the team ever get mad at them?
He’s definitely touched some nerves. I mean, he’s a former player, he knows the game, and he can say a lot more than I can. But, it’s good for him to go to practice and show his face once in a while, I’ll say that much.

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