Fame and frustration: Junior Amateur field full of success stories, shortcomings
Dick Anderson still keeps a folder filled with information about the participants of the 1995 U.S. Junior Amateur held at Fargo Country Club. Forget being tinged in yellow; it's a wonder the papers haven't turned green considering how many of the...
Dick Anderson still keeps a folder filled with information about the participants of the 1995 U.S. Junior Amateur held at Fargo Country Club.
Forget being tinged in yellow; it's a wonder the papers haven't turned green considering how many of the names printed on them are now golfing for great dough.
"I think that the people that play a lot of competitive golf said the U.S. Junior boys is the best junior event there is," said Anderson, the event's general chairman.
The Fargo field has fared perhaps as well as any - that didn't include Tiger Woods, of course.
Of the 64 players that made it to the match play portion of the 1995 tournament, the first major USGA event held in the state of North Dakota, 18 have since earned a check from the PGA Tour, two more have won money on the Nationwide Tour and another seven have at least qualified for a stop on one of the country's top two circuits.
They've accounted for three wins on the PGA Tour - two by Jonathan Byrd - and six on the Nationwide Tour.
Eight are among the top 180 on the PGA Tour money list for 2005, including four - Lucas Glover, Charles Howell III, James Driscoll and D.J. Trahan - in the top 85, and they have a combined 14 top-10 finishes this season alone.
Even before they turned professional, as so many of them did, the final 64 combined to win three U.S. Junior Amateurs, two U.S. Amateurs and one U.S. Public Links Championship.
Of course, not everybody made it as big as expected.
Just this week, in a column prodding 15-year-old Michelle Wie to give up her amateur status, a writer from a Washington, D.C., newspaper cited Scott Hailes and Shane McMenamy as examples of top prospects that peaked as juniors.
Though the author likely picked the names at random, both golfers played in the 1995 U.S. Junior Amateur.
In fact, the then 17-year-old Hailes won the event, beating Driscoll 1-up in the final.
A decade later, it remains one of the best moments in Hailes' golfing life.
"That's good and bad," the 27-year-old said when reached at his home Tuesday in Gilbert, Ariz., "because it's a great tournament and an incredible time, but I wish I'd have had more highlights since then. ... It's been one thing after another that's been failing me."
Following the win, Hailes spent one season at Wright State before essentially taking three years away from competitive golf, two while doing Mormom mission work in Barcelona, Spain, and one as a redshirt at the University of New Mexico.
He then had wrist surgery after three solid seasons with the Lobos and has since been "beating my head against the wall" trying to make a living in the Grey Goose Gateway Tour while overhauling a homemade swing.
He hasn't played in a top-level pro event since the Nike Tour Utah Classic in September 1995.
"It's getting to the point now where I'm hitting it good enough to compete," Hailes said. "I'm planning on bursting out."
If he does he'll join the likes of Driscoll and Boyd Summerhays, another current PGA Tour player he beat during his stay in Fargo.
For some time, Hailes, originally from West Bountiful, Utah, exchanged correspondence with his host family, the Skarphols. Driscoll kept in touch with local caddy Louis Bourdon. Trahan briefly dated a local girl he met at the tournament.
It may be about money now, but it wasn't way back when, Anderson said.
"This is really such a formative age for the kids," he said. "In most cases this is the first national tournament they played in. Today, if you'd ask some of these kids if they remember every hole they played at the Fargo Country Club they can.
"What really came through in spades was the support from both the Fargo Country Club and the City of Fargo. These kids were treated exceptionally well and they enjoyed it."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Terry Vandrovec at (701) 241-5548