Kristina on the Course: A talk on the tee - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kristina on the Course: A talk on the tee

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WALLA WALLA, WA - For this week's segment of Kristina on the Course, Kristina Shalhoup decided to do things a little differently and have a 'talk on the tee' with Wine Valley Golf Club's head pro, John Thorsnes.

"It turns out John has a pretty amazing golf history," Kristina said, "so let's start with when you started playing."

"Well, I played a little bit growing up in high college," said Thorsnes. "But I went to college and tended bar, and waited tables, and all those guys played golf, cause it was a perfect job for golf and I fell in love with it. After I got out of college I got a job at a driving range and it just kind of snowballed from there."

"So that kind of became your thing, slowly but surely?" Kristina asked.

"I've always been involved with sports, playing baseball and tennis growing up," Thorsnes said. "And golf just, it's a very addictive sport, as you know, so I just went from there."

"Well, something else that's really interesting that you've mentioned to me before is that this isn't the only course you've been a pro at," Kristina pointed out. "Where else have you been?"

"Mostly on the west side of the state," responded Thorsnes. "I've been at Meridian Valley, where they hosted the Safeco Classic for years. Then I went to Sahalee, which is a great course that held the PGA Championship. Then I was lucky enough to get a job out at Pumpkin Ridge, and they've had a couple Ladies US Opens and the Nike Tour Championship, so I was very fortunate."

"So that's really an absolutely incredible resume," commented Kristina. "You've got so many courses you've worked at and some pretty big names as well, but for you, it kind of sounds like Wine Valley is your baby, is that right?"

"Absolutely," Thorsnes admitted. "I was very fortunate to get a job at the Country Club, and I was the head pro there for ten years. Then I met the landowner here, and he is a very avid golfer, and was very interested in developing a golf course, and we were able to get a great designer and some great builders of the golf course. And it was just a fabulous piece of's been farm land for 100 years. with great rolling hills, just a great site to build a golf course."

"Well you can see it right behind us; this course is absolutely beautiful," Kristina agreed. "I mean, you built it from the ground up. Do you feel a sense of accomplishment after that?"

"Oh absolutely, it's an opportunity that a lot of people don't get," said Thorsnes. "So I was very fortunate to start from the dirt and build it into this great golf course."

"Well perfect segway, an opportunity that most people don't get... meeting some incredible people," Kristina said. "You've met some serious celebs working in the golf industry. What is your favorite celebrity instance?"

"Probably working at Pumpkin Ridge; I was there in 1992, which is the year the original dream team came about," Thorsnes explained. "The tournament of America's Cup was in Portland, so they were in Portland for two weeks, and most of the guys on the team were avid golfers. So Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton. The whole team played, so it was a lot of fun. I got to play with quite a few of the guys. So that was probably the most fun!"

"Who was your favorite?" Kristina asked.

"Um, Charles was actually!" said Thorsnes. "He was a pretty good player at that time!" 

"John, that's absolutely amazing," Kristina said. "You've got such an incredible history in the game of golf. Thank you so much for joining me today."

"You're welcome, thank you."