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Steve Murray

Divots And Scratches

TURTLE BAY’S DIRECTOR OF GOLF IS OFF TO APPEAR AT THE BIGGEST DJ EVENT IN THE U.S.

Matt Hall’s career as a hip-hop and electronic music DJ began in a less nefarious way than did his entrance into golf.

Hall, Turtle Bay Resort’s director of golf, became interested in sampling, cutting, looping and scratching after his friend Kirk Schultz, also a PGA golf professional, paid a visit while toting the mixing controller he recently had purchased. Hall’s golf career started after he and a small number of teenage friends got caught breaking into a private golf club in his hometown of New Haven, Conn.

(Full disclosure: Hall and I co-host 1420 Golf Saturday mornings on ESPN 1420).

The unwitting 13-year-old delinquent found a discarded golf club in an empty lot near the blue-collar golf club he would later enter illegally. After practicing in the yard and picking up pointers from Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus, he was ready to up his game. Sporting slacks, a collared shirt, a Ben Hogan cap and his grandfather’s 25-year-old set of clubs — and in violation of club rules and state law — he sneaked onto the course and began playing a two-hole stretch, At least until Peter Polaski, the head professional, discovered the illicit behavior. Instead of phoning parents or calling police, Polaski made an offer: Pick up range balls on Sundays, and Hall would be granted access to the course.

“I guess it pays to dress up,” recalls Hall with a laugh.

The easygoing and popular golf professional would become a mentor and the person Hall most wanted to emulate. He worked at the club, performing every job imaginable, until he left for New Mexico State University, which at the time was one of only four universities to offer a professional golf management program affiliated with PGA of America.

This week, Hall, aka DJ Baumer, named for Luke Wilson’s character in The Royal Tenenbaums, brings his controller to the Electric Daisy Carnival, a three day, dusk-till-dawn multi-sensory electronic music festival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The gig is a rare opportunity for a young DJ trying to hone his craft and gain valuable exposure.

You can hear Hall’s mixes at soundcloud.com/djbaumer.

Now in its 18th year, EDC Vegas boasts nearly 200 DJs on seven stages and a three-day crowd of more than 300,000 people. The first run of tickets sold out months ago before the acts even were announced, and a final, limited release of three-day general admission tickets are being offered for $345 plus a $40 service fee on the festival website.

A typical EDC event features music, dancing, food, drink, carnival rides, fireworks and just about anything else that turns a party into an event.

“EDC has established itself as putting on the most elaborate, intense and electrifying performances,” says Hall. “You don’t worry about who they are getting for talent; they deliver on that, and you’re going to get an unbelievable event for your ticket price.”

In the old-school war for hip-hop supremacy, Hall was definitely East Coast.

In addition to AC/DC, Def Leppard, Clash and Men at Work, his middle and high school record collections featured Jam On It by Newcleus, Run DMC, Kool Moe Dee, MC Shan, Beastie Boys, Big Daddy Kane and EPMD. He began visiting record stores trying to find obscure artists he hadn’t heard before. It became a mission.

“I loved it,” he says. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”

Such straight-ahead determination is not unusual for the golf professional with an admitted addictive personality: “I went from 0 to 60 in six months.”

The day after his friend Schultz left in late 2007, Hall ordered his first mixing controller. Three days later, it arrived and he immediately got to work. He downloaded 15 songs, set up his new equipment on two milk crates and began figuring things out, trying to recreate what he saw on videos. He bought speakers, cables, lights, equipment and a van to haul it in. He even took classes at the Scratch Academy in Los Angeles.

A few months later, he got his first gig, of sorts.

Among his proper professional golf attire, Hall brought his controller and laptop loaded with music to the 2008 PGA Tour Phoenix Open. He stayed at the Oakley house, which was hosting a party for the PGA’s most raucous tournament. It was his big break.

“I ended up blowing out two sets of speakers. I was probably awful, but I was having fun, everyone else was having fun. And that’s when I sort of looked around and said, ‘This is cool.’ I had a blast with it.”

Hall’s invitation to EDC came about in a offhand way. A friend of a friend of a friend introduced Hall to a publicist, who then employed a friend of a friend, who connected him with Insomniac chief growth officer John Boyle (Insomniac is the production company that runs EDC). In an exchange of email, they discovered common interests in golf and electronic music. Hall sent a mix to Boyle, who was impressed enough to invite Hall to perform.

While all the details have yet to be ironed out, Hall expects to perform a 45-minute to one-hour set in front of his biggest audience to date. He has created a framework of what he’ll perform, but the exact arrangement will require a healthy bit of improvisation.

“The really good DJs, and I would like to become one, take (audiences) on a path where you make stops along the way. With DJing, you need to be able to shift directions, read the crowd and move the crowd into different directions. They are dictating to you as much as you are dictating to them.”

Hall has been rather successful in his golf career. Upon graduating college, he followed a former girlfriend to Hawaii and got a job at Hapuna Golf Course as a fourth assistant. He’s been at Turtle Bay for 12 years, and was instrumental in re-creating the Turtle Bay Amateur, making it one of Hawaii’s most prestigious local tournaments. He served as president of the Aloha Section PGA, got to watch Arnold Palmer land his private jet at Honolulu International Airport and have dinner with The King and his new wife of one day, Kathleen. But no matter what happens next, music will play a key role.

“My world was centered around golf, and I needed something outside of that. It’s amazing, when you put on a pair of headphones and point the speakers and you start listening to songs and going into your own world, how empowering that feels.”

DJing has been more effective than the electronic drum kit he purchased that is now on “sabbatical.”

“I probably didn’t need to get that one,” he says with a laugh.

But his son Evan has taken notice of the noise producer, so who knows. Some day, it might be DJ Baumer Plus One.

smurray@midweek.com

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