When Brandon Bittner was washing golf carts and tidying up every morning outside the pro shop at Cumberland Country Club in 2005, he never envisioned he’d appear in one of the premiere magazines in all of sport.
Eighteen years later, Bittner will feature next month in Golf Digest, where he will be honored as one of the best young teachers in America.
“Initially, I bawled like a baby,” said Bittner, who shared the news on Facebook last week. “I was getting ready to go walk upstairs, and I turned around and sat down and start crying. You don’t expect something like that. It’s hard to explain. It puts in perspective that the hard work that you put in, you work hard, it pays off.
“People tell you that if you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life. That’s complete bullshit. If you love what you do, you work your tail off every day of your life. And you have great days, you have bad days. But regardless, it’s a learning opportunity to make you better.”
Bittner, who turns 37 in April, is the director of instructors at Golf Made Simple, which is one of the top golf schools in the country.
The 36-year-old’s resume includes 16,000-plus hours of coaching at GMS, which he started working for in 2014, instruction at 16 GMS locations around the globe, mentoring and training of over two dozen GMS instructors, a member of the So-Cal PGA Section Teaching Committee and host of Coaching Coaches, a golf instruction podcast.
A 2004 graduate of Beall, Bittner didn’t play organized golf in high school, instead playing soccer, basketball and baseball.
“I played golf in high school but it was more haphazardly, going out five, 10 times a year,” said Bittner, who after high school got a bachelor of science in sports medicine at Frostburg State. “I could hit the ball — I just didn’t know where it was going.”
He started working at Cumberland Country Club in 2005 after his friend, Nathan Jackson, recommended him for a job.
“It was good tip money and I started really liking it,” Bittner added, “and I got to play free golf and practice for free, which you can’t beat. So that’s really kind of where it all started in that I had access to a sport I couldn’t afford to play at that time, because golf is not cheap. So it was something where being there and getting to play as much as I did, I got addicted.”
It culminated in to Bittner passing his Playing Ability Test for the PGA a little over a decade ago and turning pro in 2010. He became the assistant golf pro at Cumberland CC and, in 2012, was promoted to director of golf, a position he held until September 2014 when he was hired by GMS weeks after Bittner and Cumberland won the Boggs Cup in a 17-7 runaway over Maplehurst.
Bittner was raised in Mount Savage, a town of less than 1,000 people, and has taken pieces of his hometown with him to California, where he moved to in 2016.
“I think the biggest thing to me that comes from winning this award, it’s put in perspective that all the talk is true that you can come from a town of 900 people and make a name for yourself and do something great,” Bittner said. “The first thing I thought of was my nieces. To show them that you can do whatever you want. I mean, I don’t have any kids of my own. But to show my nieces, and then my little nephew doesn’t have a clue yet, that you can do whatever you want.
“Anybody telling you that golf is just for people who are privileged and for people who are in the right place at the right time? Yeah, that can happen. But you can also make the right place and right time, it just takes effort and discipline. Obviously, I can improve in both those areas, but just from experience … it’s simple, hence Golf Made Simple. If you do the simple things and you stay true to your integrity and to have the best interests in mind of everyone that you come in contact with, you can then feel comfortable taking risks and then go out on a limb to move across the country or whatever it is that you want to do and be OK with the outcome.”
Although Golf Digest sent an email out to the awardees, that isn’t how Bittner was informed that he won the honor.
GMS in California works out of Indian Wells Golf Resort, but the recent rainfalls across the West Coast have caused damage to the grounds…
News Read More: Bittner named one of America’s best young golf teachers by Golf Digest