McChord’s resident golf pro teaches Airmen, family members: Women’s Professional Golf Tour champ gives tips at base golf course

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Whispering Firs Golf Course club pro Chris Burkhart cuts right to the point when it comes to her job at McChord. 

"Without a doubt, it's the best golf job I've ever had," the 56-year-old Burkhart said. 

She learned to play at age 10, but since there was no female high school golf team at the time, Ms. Burkhart took up tennis, she said. She spent four years on varsity as the team's No. 1 singles player. 

Golf came back into the picture after Ms. Burkhart decided to take a leave of absence from her job as a school teacher in Federal Way to try out for the Women's Professional Golf Tour, she said. 

She turned pro in 1978 and won two tournaments her first year, capturing the tour's rookie-of-the-year award. After a three-year run on the tour and two attempts to make the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour came up short, Ms. Burkhart decided to return to what she loved, coaching, she said. 

She landed a job as the men's and women's golf coach at Washington State University in Pullman and coached there for six years. 

"I quit because I never had any time," Ms. Burkhart said. 

She also missed the classroom, she said. After moving back to Western Washington, Ms. Burkhart got a teaching job at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, which included an opportunity to coach girls bowling and tennis. 

She also started teaching golf at McChord. 

"The first time I came out here, I fell in love with the place," she said. 

She's been a big hit with those lucky enough to learn the game from her, said John Robbins, a Whispering Firs pro shop assistant who has known Ms. Burkhart since she started working at the course. 

"She's just fantastic," he said. "Everyone is happy with her teaching and they always walk away with a smile." 

Ms. Burkhart now teaches golf at McChord to everyone from 6-year-olds to generals. While working at Whispering Firs, she estimates that she's introduced nearly 100 people to golf. The teaching part of the game is what really excites her now, she said. 

"I don't lose any salary if I miss a two-foot putt," said Ms. Burkhart. 

And as any beginning golfer knows, the game can be frustrating at times, she said. 

"You have to still realize it's a game and to have some fun," she said. "It's not life or death."