Golf

Making the Rounds: Change in swing, approach leads to spot on Asian Tour

John Catlin, a Jesuit High School graduate and Sacramento resident, tees off in the final stage of Asian Tour qualifying.
John Catlin, a Jesuit High School graduate and Sacramento resident, tees off in the final stage of Asian Tour qualifying.

Playing to the middle of the green might work in amateur golf, where par can get the job done.

John Catlin has quickly learned that to be a successful pro, birdies and the calculated risks that lead to them are necessary.

With that in mind, he started firing at more flags, underwent major swing changes and ventured to a foreign land. Less than two years after turning pro, Catlin and his game are headed in a positive direction.

Last month during a 23-day stay in Thailand, Catlin qualified for the Asian Tour after finishing 12th of 100 in the first stage and seventh of 240 in the final stage. His schedule isn’t set for this year, but it appears he’ll start in April in Indonesia.

“I wanted to give myself another chance at a big tour,” he said Tuesday.

After performing solidly on the Canadian Tour and assorted minitours in 2014, Catlin, a 24-year-old Jesuit High School graduate and Sacramento resident, fizzled out in the second stage of the Web.com Tour qualifying tournament.

He learned a lot in 2014, particularly that he needed to play more aggressively.

“I wasn’t hitting my wedges close enough to the hole to make birdies,” he said. “Part of it was a mindset, to play away from danger. I changed that mindset. When you have a good number and you’re swinging good, you have to take advantage.”

Catlin said he struggled holding greens on tough courses. Midway through 2014, he started working with Noah Montgomery, a fellow North Ridge Country Club member, with the intention of hitting the ball higher. He said he made several major swing changes, the most recognizable being less lateral movement of his head.

“I just felt like I had reached a ceiling,” Catlin said. “I needed a fresh set of eyes. The changes have made me a much better golfer.”

The Asian Tour is the third-most lucrative behind the PGA and European tours. If Catlin plays well, that could lead to European Tour starts in co-sanctioned events.

Catlin has a couple of minitour friends he’ll travel with, and he’ll use local caddies. He’s looking forward to the experience.

“The people are nice, and I loved the food, for the most part – you have to be careful with the raw stuff,” he said. “I felt calm and happy the entire time I was over there. I think that’s why my game was able to shine through.”

Et cetera

▪ Sacramento’s Del Paso Country Club is depicted at the center of the golf mecca that is Northern California in an illustration on the cover of the Northern California Golf Association’s annual golf guide directory that arrived this week. Del Paso, host of this year’s U.S. Senior Open, gets much less attention in the related stories within the Monterey-centric publication.

▪ Haggin Oaks’ Ken Morton Sr. will be inducted into the California Golf Hall of Fame next week. The legendary PGA club professional was instrumental in creating what evolved into The First Tee.

▪ Emilee Hoffman (Vista del Lago) has verbally committed to play at Texas, and David Laskin (Jesuit) has verbally committed to play at Arizona, both starting in the fall of 2016.

Call The Bee’s Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.

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