At first glance, it may appear that golf and skiing are completely unrelated, but for Park City resident golf professionals Jon DeBoer and Nate Roberts, the two sports go together like peanut butter and jelly.
For Park City native Roberts, a former competitive moguls skier with 10 World Cup titles and two World Championships medals to his credit, golf proved to be the perfect off-season challenge.
“It was a good escape to stay competitive,” says Roberts, a 2010 Olympian who now serves as first assistant golf pro at Park City’s municipal course. “I figured if I could focus for five hours while playing a round of golf, I better be able to focus for 30 seconds to make it down a moguls run.”
His natural talent blossomed into a passion that turned into a professional career following his retirement from the US Ski Team. After stints in San Diego and Palm Springs, Roberts jumped on the opportunity to return home and join the Park City golf staff.
“What I love most about my job is teaching,” says Roberts. “When you’re helping a beginner and they get the ball in the air and see that they can do it, it gives me such satisfaction.”
Fellow local DeBoer, assistant PGA golf pro at Park Meadows Country Club (and 2019 Utah Section PGA Assistant of the Year), has spent his entire 30-year career mixing golf and skiing. He started ski instructing at Park City Mountain when he was just 21, and three years later, he began his golf career at the municipal course in the off-season.
“Golf and skiing have been a great combination for me professionally,” says DeBoer, who’s also been on staff at Soldier Hollow and Tuhaye. “A ski lesson is basically a playing lesson, all day long. On the hill, I’m telling someone, ‘here’s how to approach this run,’ and I think the most enjoyable golf lessons are the ones spent on the golf course.”
In particular, DeBoer believes his extensive experience on the mountains gives him an edge as a teacher to students seeking to master the game on alpine courses.
“In Park City, the lies are never level. You’re constantly dealing with slope and angles and gravity, so my perspective on hitting the golf shot, playing the golf course, and particularly putting, is an advantage.”
As for DeBoer’s advice to golfers in Park City, that’s easy: Give yourself a break.
“Most people would be best served by playing it one tee forward,” says DeBoer. “The difficult thing isn’t getting the ball around the golf course; it’s getting it in the hole on mountainous golf courses. So get there sooner—and learn how to putt.”