AGOSTINI: Former Nuts pitcher, a Beyer High grad, is new club-fitter at McHenry

ragostini@modbee.comSeptember 23, 2013 

— Chris Malone has devoted much of his life to baseball. Today, he's all about golf.

Local fans will remember his years as a star at Beyer High (he graduated in 2001) and his pitching for the Modesto Nuts in 2008 and '09. But starting today at McHenry Golf Center, Malone will activate the FlightScope, the 21st-century launch monitor that does everything except collect your golf bets.

Malone, 30, is the practice center's new club-fitter and director of merchandise sales. He also can provide tips on how to throw a curve, but that's not Job 1 for him at McHenry.

"It's good to be back in my community and seeing a lot of familiar faces," he said. "All my old baseball coaches are now golf coaches."

The FlightScope determines ball-speed, clubhead speed, spin rate, launch angle, club path and other measurables. From all that data, customers improve their respective games and, yes, target the best clubs for them.

McHenry has partnered the last five years with the Roger Dunn Golf Shops chain, which hired Malone six months ago. Ken Miller, McHenry owner, likes the state-of-the-art technology on hand as well as the well-known Modestan manning it.

"We're trying to offer a one-stop shop for everyone," Miller said. "We want to go to the next step and offer something special."

Enter Malone, who — after baseball — channeled all that athleticism toward golf.

He was signed by the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent in 2005 and spent two seasons with them before his release. Surprisingly, they prescribed golf to help his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

"They wanted me to hit the ball off the tee to help my elbow recover," he said. "They didn't want me making contact with the ground."

That was his introduction to golf.

Malone eventually was signed by the Rockies and, after his stint with the Nuts, had a brief fling with Double-A Tulsa.

"It was a wild ride," he said. "Injuries had a lot to do with it (not making the majors). Getting older in the minors is not a good thing. I'd do it all over again, though."

He worked briefly at Jack Tone Golf in Ripon before he was hired for pro-shop duty at The Reserve at Spanos Park in July of 2011. Incredibly, he jumped from a 15-handicapper to a plus-2 by December.

"I was playing or hitting balls all the time," Malone said. "I put all my heart into it and all of a sudden doors started to open."

He soon became the head pro at The Reserve, which led him to his new position at McHenry.

"We want people to utilize the technology we have on hand," Malone said. "I think it will set us apart from the rest."

THE SHAG BAG — Cathy Scherzer Corey, one of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am's top marketing executives for more than 20 years, has retired. Why is that news to us? We remember her as Cathy Carmichael, Downey High graduate.

Scherzer served as marketing director for the Monterey Peninsula Foundation since 1989. Her legacy, however, was the continued growth of events such as the AT&T and also the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, the Champions Tour event coming up Sept. 27-29. Scherzer filled Pebble's skyboxes and other sponsor tents bordering the fairways.

The Giants-49ers Shootout, held on Tuesday during AT&T week, has become one of the event's highlights. That was Scherzer's idea.

"It's important to acknowledge what she has done," Monterey Peninsula Foundation CEO Steve John told the Monterey Herald. "She left a huge footprint on the foundation."

HOLE-IN-ONE — Stuart Kurland, Modesto, 71-yard third at Escalon, pitching wedge.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter, @modbeesports.

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