Moin Malak: An Alumni on Tour
Posted on November 3, 2017
When Moin Malak enrolled at the Professional Golfers Career College 15 years ago he had one goal in mind. Malak wanted to enhance his golf skills enough to be able to play professionally. Since graduating in 2003 he returned to his home country of India and began a quite successful amateur golf career before turning pro. Malak now competes on the Professional Golf Tour of India. Earlier this year, Moin Malak returned to the Professional Golfers Career College to share his story with our students.
Moin Malak was out in California to visit his sister when they saw the commercial for the Professional Golfers Career College. “Coming to this college was by coincidence.” After seeing the ad, Malak visited the campus and met the staff and Dr. Somerville. After talking with them and seeing the whole program he decided to enroll. “But my goal was always to go on and play on the pro tour.” He saw PGCC as the perfect place to grow his game and work on his golf skills. At the time the golf facilities of his hometown in India weren’t in the greatest shape. “The greens are so small, rock hard. In summers you can hit a lob wedge and see the ball bounce on the green. At least at that time it was that bad. It’s much better now.”While Malak’s initial intention was to hone his game to perfection, he realized the PGCC program had so much more to offer. “Along with that, what I got here was so much knowledge and education about the whole golfing industry.” He became aware that there is only a small portion of the golf industry that involves playing or teaching golf. There’s much more like “tournaments, construction of golf courses, equipment, clothes, management, running golf courses, everything we learn at this college.”
The knowledge gained about all the facets of the golf industry “really helps you as a person, as a player as well.” Malak explains, “When you’re playing on the tour and if you understand everything, it makes it that much easier for you to plan.” Learning about course architecture and golf course design gives you insight into how to play a golf course. “You try to visualize what the architect wants you to do, or how he’s planned or the reason why he’s placed the bunker where it is or the hazard where it is or why the green is sloping such.” Malak feels he has a strategic advantage on planning his approach to each hole. At PGCC he was also exposed to how the equipment is built and why clubs are designed the way they are. “So if you have all this information, you don’t have to depend on someone else. So this whole experience really helped me.”Upon graduating from PGCC, Malak headed back to India and began his amateur golf career. “As an amateur I won one match-play event and one more, there’s an Indian Open which is a nation tour event, so I won the best amateur in that.” He earned himself a spot on the Indian national team. “I even captained it and won a few events as a captain for my country, which I’m quite proud of and you get to where the blazer of your own country.” His success gained him entrance, through his world rankings, to “play in the Asian Amateur Championship which was the 1st inaugural one in Mission Hills in China.”
One aspect of the game that Malak finds important is the mental side of golf. “You need to be strong. You need to look at what you want to do and not look at what you don’t want to do.” Malak recalls his amateur Match Play victory at The Royal Calcutta Golf Course and his mental state during the event. “The whole tournament which I went through, I’ve never experienced that mental frame…The first match I won on the 12th hole. The second match I won on the 13th hole. The third match I won on the 16th. Fourth I won on the 18th hole. The final one was a 36-hole match, and I won on the last hole.”
Malak continues, “I was 4 down after 18 in the finals, then I won the 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Then in-between we came all-square. The final hole is a long par 4 dogleg left. I was on the wall of the bunker and my partner had hit his drive in the woods, so he had laid up to 30 feet short of the green and he chipped it to about 6 feet, so he was going to make a par.” His competitor was a good friend and the two were enjoying the round together. They were sinking birdies and pars from everywhere. Malak stepped up to his shot, “So I was standing with my lob wedge,” knowing he needed a par to go to a playoff. “I hit it and it bounced on the green because the green was higher from where I was standing, it took one pitch, took a little bounce to the right, kept rolling, kept rolling and went in the hole. I thought, oh my god that’s in. And I won! It’s unbelievable.”Moin Malak left the amateur circuit and turned professional in 2011. It was later then he had anticipated but plans got postponed so he could start building a family. He had gotten married and they had a daughter. “Then I turned professional and started competing on the pro tour. There’s a huge difference between playing as an amateur and playing as a professional.” One of the first differences Malak notes is that on the amateur circuit you have people playing just out of their love of golf. “When you turn pro it’s a living.” Once Malak began playing for a living he approached tournaments completely different. “If you’re playing for a living then each shot counts, even if it’s a small two-foot putt you’ll still take your time because you don’t want to miss it.”
Malak notes that the golfer’s appearance differentiates from the amateur and professional tour. He points out “when you’re playing amateurs it’s all about the look, what clothes your wearing, what equipment your using… it’s all pomp and show for the most part.” The clothes and equipment become less important when you transition to the pro tour. “You go on the pro tour, nobody cares, it’s all about who makes the last putt. Who finishes in the least number of holes.”
Malak emphasizes that to survive on tour, “It takes a lot, it’s a tough life.” It’s an enjoyable life, but it has its hardships just like any job. “You have to plan it, you have to be sincere, you have to be dedicated.” Practice is the key to making it and staying on tour. “After a while you have to take care of your fitness, your body, because as you grow older and as the youngsters keep coming in, they’re hitting the ball a mile, they’re stronger, they’re fitter.” He now focuses on sharpening his other skills, like his short game and putting, which is where tournaments are won.Malak encourages precision in practice. “Even the practice routine which you follow is extremely important.” While most go to a range and pound balls for hours, Malak encourages having more focus with practice. His strategy for an hour practice, for instance, begins with working on his swing or a new swing thought for the first 15 minutes. “Then you take the next batch of balls then you start imagining the type of shots you’d want to hit as you would while playing on the golf course.” Testing hitting the ball out of different lies, visualize the shot before hitting, take a practice swing then walk up to hit it. “So you actually keep practicing what you would when you’re playing a tournament.”
One lesson Malak learned playing on tour which began in our History of Golf class is “imagination is key in golf.” He points out “If you look back at all the golf legends, they had imagination.” While playing on tour he noticed there were older players who used their imagination to hit shots that seemed impossible. This allowed them to compete on the same level of the younger and stronger players.
“So, if you get to go on to the pro tour and compete it’s a fabulous life. It’s a lot of fun.” However, there is a lot of time away from home. Malak will live out of a suitcase for weeks to months at a time. “You travel for 3 months, 4 months, at a stretch and that is a lot less compared to when you’re playing on the Asian tour or the PGA tour.” Malak places his family above his golf career which is why he “did not pursue too much to go onto the Asian tour or the European tour is because of my family, I wanted to spend more time with them.”
While Malak is forced to spend time away from his family there isn’t anything better for him than playing golf for a living. “I love golf because one it’s a great office to have, when you’re playing on beautiful golf courses because that’s your job, you’re teaching or you’re playing.” He couldn’t see himself working behind a desk for eight hours a day. Malak enjoys how golf keeps you connected to nature. “It keeps you on the ground.” He emphasizes one of his driving philosophies to “always be humble. Be appreciative, help people because the moment you become arrogant or cocky, in any sport or in anything, your downfall is right around the corner.”Malak believes that “Golf is a great, great sport. It teaches you a lot about not just a career, but also life.” He theorizes that through golf you learn how to handle the ups and downs faced in life as you would on the course. “You’ll hit some good shots, you’ll have some great years in your life. You’ll hit some bad shots, you go through bad patches in your life… But in the end, how you come out of it, that’s what’s important.” These thoughts on golf and life began while he was at the Professional Golfers Career College. “As in golf, as in life. It teaches you a lot more than what you think it teaches. All that I realized and came to know once I went through this college.”
Malak was able to utilize his PGCC skill set to help expand a golf course. “I’ve even re-designed one golf course in India because of what I learned over here.” There was a small course in India with too many intersecting fairways which needed to be fixed. “So, then I spent almost 2 months in that city. We checked it from Google Maps and Google Earth, took the photos and redesigned everything.” He assisted in eliminating the crossing fairways and made it longer. “We increased the length of the golf course as well. That is all because what I learned it here. Not without what I learned here. They wanted everything, construction, irrigation, what grass, maintenance, how to maintain it, everything they wanted to know.” These were all subjects Malak became familiar with during his time at the Professional Golfers Career College.
Malak expands on the lessons he learned at PGCC which have helped him. About PGCC he notes “It’s a full package, not just golf, a lot about life as well and that’s what’s important.” He encourages any new students to soak in everything being presented because once you’re out in the work force that information becomes essential. “Then you start realizing how important the things were which were being taught at that time and then we didn’t focus too much on. Because after I graduated I worked for 4 months for one golf center in Riverside. What I learned really helped because I didn’t know anything about anything actually, apart from my own swing, before I came to this college.” His notes from PGCC became his work reference materials. He emphasizes that no matter which career path in golf you want to take that “you should have the knowledge about everything no matter what you want to do. Because at a point you think you want to go this way, but somewhere down the road everything you learn is important, everything.”