In 17 years of pro golf, the game has taken Steve Friesen all over the planet.
He has played in Japan, New Zealand, India, Chile. All sorts of fascinating places.
And more recently, the game brought him back to his favorite place of all.
The Lincoln High grad and Husker star who first took to the links at Jim Ager as a youngster is back in town as the director of instruction at Firethorn Golf Club.
Firethorn is the place that shaped his game when he was a teenager, so Friesen couldn’t pass up the chance to work there as head instructor and club-fitter.
“To me, this is just a super special place,” he said.
The timing was right for the homecoming, which was made official in March.
Friesen, 41, was living in Phoenix with his wife, Chiho, and their two young children. They talked about the possibility of moving to Nebraska if the right opportunity presented itself.
“The last few years I hadn’t been playing well,” he said. “I probably didn’t want to be playing, and my results reflected that. More than anything, I wanted to get into teaching.”
And he loves what Firethorn has become, with the new resort area for families, featuring a new pool and par-3 course.
“I really do believe in this place,” he said.
Firethorn’s championship course is known throughout the region for its unique layout.
“The course has so much character,” Friesen said. “It’s so fun to play.”
Friesen, who won a Web.com Tour event in 2011, is not done with competitive golf. He had a great debut with the Nebraska Section PGA, winning an event at Tiburon with a 7-under showing over 27 holes on April 23. Coincidentally, that is where he played his first pro event, on The Prairie Tour in 1999.
“It will still be good to be connected to the game at a competitive level. I think it will help me as a teacher and a club-fitter to still be competitive.”
It was great to get caught up with an old friend. He even offered to help me with my game. I just don’t think he has a month to spare to fix my swing.
In the meantime, here are Steve’s thoughts on a few other topics:
On the Firethorn Golf Performance Center: “It’s a great amenity for the members. This spring it’s been busy. There’s room for six people to hit indoor to outdoor. It’s just a great driving range. It’s also a great facility from a club-fitting standpoint.”
On the first step to better golf: “Grip is huge. It kind of dictates so much of how you can potentially start your golf swing.”
On his global golf travels (he has played in 14 countries): “So many great places and all unique. Japan and New Zealand would be at the top. The mountain scenery of New Zealand. The great food and culture of Japan. Just whatever you do, don’t forget to take off your shoes. I loved the travel, seeing new places. But really, when I think of the memories from 17 years of pro golf, it’s all the friendships and people I met on each different tour.”
On being the only male golfer in the NU Hall of Fame (inducted in 2015): “That was a huge honor. Just a lot of great memories from that time. In my office here, I have a framed picture of our 1999 Nebraska golf team. We just had a great group of guys. It’s hard to believe it’s been 19 years. It goes so quick.
“We were all into it. They can only require you to be out here (practicing) X number of hours. But all of us were out here (at Firethorn) way more than that because it was what we wanted to do.”
And now he’s back. Back home.
Visit www.firethorngolfclub.com for more information.
John Mabry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.