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Year: 2019

JTNC Members Qualify for Drive, Chip and Putt Finals

JTNC Members Qualify for Drive, Chip and Putt Finals

October 11, 2019

A  pair of JTNC members will be at famed Augusta National Golf Club come April 5, 2020 for the Finals of the annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

Both Howard Shu, of Saratoga, and Ethan Lien, of Cupertino, earned spots by winning at the Regional qualifier held at Chambers Bay. Shu won the Boys’ 14-15 Division with 155 points. Lien, meanwhile, won the Boys’ 12-13 division with a score of 156 points.

The two could end up being joined by yet another JTNC member. Riley Yang, of San Jose, was the first alternate in the Girls’ 14-15 division.

JTNC’s Sam Sommerhauser Wins PURE Insurance Championship Crown

September 30, 2019

JTNC member Sam Sommerhauser has joined the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as a champion at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Sommerhauser, a 17-year-old senior at Whitney High in Rocklin and member of The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, won the Boys’ Pro-Junior title at the PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee on Sunday with pro partner and winner Kirk Triplett after coming in with a 54-hole score of 23-under 192 (63-66-63).

Ashley Menne, a member of The First Tee of Phoenix and Youth on Course, won the Girls’ title with partner Tom Lehman with a score of 18-under 197 (64-68-65).

Fittingly, Sommerhauser finished with a tap-in in birdie on the par-5 18th after a huge drive.

“It was a great experience,” said Sommerhauser, who’s committed to University of Arizona. “I’m just thankful I got to play and played well.”

“What didn’t impress me about Sam?,” replied Triplett when asked about his partner. “He’s a fabulous player with a fabulous swing. He’s also got tremendous poise and has the ability to bounce back.”

Sommerhauser joins a list of other JTNC players who’ve captured the title: Matthew Sutherland (2018), Jack Avrit (2015), Michelle Xie (2013) and Casie Cathrea (2011).

Other JTNC members who made the cut at the PURE were Lauren Garces (T-9), defending Player of the Year Dylan McDermott (T-12) and Jasmin Krishna (T-14).


JTNC Alum John Scott Senz Wins Again

September 16, 2019

JTNC alum John Scott Senz won the Special Olympics of Northern California (SONC) 2019 Folsom Golf Regional Tournament on Sunday, Sept. 15 at Empire Ranch Golf Course.

Senz, who has now won this event three years in a row, shot a 75. Congrats John!

Watch Out for JTNC at Upcoming PURE Insurance Championship

September 6, 2019

Watch Out for Junior Tour of Northern California at Upcoming PURE Insurance Championship

Don’t be surprised if a Junior Tour of Northern California player walks away with the Pro-Junior title at the upcoming PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee.

The event, set to tee off Sept. 27-29 at Poppy Hills Golf Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links, has been a good luck charm for JTNC players.

Last year, Carmichael resident Matthew Sutherland (a member of The First Tee of Greater Sacramento) won the Pro-Junior crown playing with his uncle, former NCGA Amateur Match Play champ Kevin Sutherland.

Other JTNC winners have been:

  • 2011 Casie Cathrea, who won with Masters champ Ben Crenshaw
  • 2013 Michelle Xie, who won with Kirk Triplett
  • 2015 Jack Avrit (pictured), who won with co-record five-time AT&T Pro-Am champ Mark O’Meara

There was also former JTNC Player of the Year Josh McCarthy’s close call at the 2014 First Tee Open. That year, McCarthy and partner Peter Senior appeared to have the title won. That is, until The First Tee of Tucson’s Christopher Meyers pulled off one of the greatest shots on the historic 18th hole at Pebble Beach by any player–he’d make a double-eagle from 203 yards out—to give him and pro partner Lee Janzen the victory. Meyers is the only player EVER to win an official event at Pebble by holing out for double-eagle on 18.

***In a twist, this year’s event will feature both a Boys’ and Girls’ champion

JTNC players who’ll be in the field for this year’s Pro-Junior:

  • Yusuf Ahmed
  • Ashley Knepshield
  • Dylan McDermott (2018-2019 JTNC Boys’ Player of the Year)
  • Mikaela Paracuelles
  • Sam Sommerhauser
  • Alexander Iniakov
  • Lauren Garces
  • Ralph Kho
  • Jasmin Krishna

There is no admission fee to attend the PURE Championship, but spectators still need to register. For more info on the event and to register, please visit

JTNC Alum Yealimi Noh Runner-up at LPGA Event

September 3, 2019

Former JTNC standout Yealimi Noh once again made her presence felt on the LPGA Tour.

Noh, who’s second on the all-time Girls’ career win list (19), finished second at the Cambia Portland Classic, losing to winner Hannah Green by just a stroke. It was the second time that Noh, who won the 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at Poppy Hills, was in contention on the LPGA Tour. In July, she tied for sixth at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.

Still just 18, Noh is currently entered in Stage II of the LPGA’s Qualifying School, which takes place Oct. 12-17 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla. Noh said this week is her final LPGA Tour appearance of 2019, as she has other sponsor obligations and tournaments in Korea and Japan over the coming weeks. Should she play well in those other events and jump into the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, she could skip Stage II and go directly to LPGA Q-Series, a two-week final stage that will be held Oct. 23-26 and Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 at Pinehurst No. 6 and Pinehurst No. 9 in North Carolina.

“After playing a couple of events, [I’m] kind of used to or kind of know what’s going on at the events here,” Noh said. “I’m really excited for next year. Hopefully I can win next year.”

JTNC Alum Josh McCarthy Wins NCGA Am Match Play Title

August 16, 2019

While progressing through the ranks, including winning Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year honors in  2014, Danville resident Josh McCarthy has always had his eyes on the NCGA’s biggest prize.

It’s now his.

McCarthy, now a 22-year-old senior at Pepperdine University, captured the 116th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship on a suddenly chilly Friday at par-71 Spyglass Hill after defeating runner-up Toby Briggs, 7 and 5, in the 36-hole finale.

It’s the first NCGA title for McCarthy, who was a mutiple winner on the JTNC. Also a Youth on Course member, McCarthy joins the ranks of Lawson Little Jr., Roger Maltbie and Kevin Sutherland as champions of the prestigious event.

“This win is really important to me, everything this event means” said McCarthy, who closed things out by holing out a pitch shot for birdie on the 31st hole. “I’ve always hoped to win it. Growing up, you see the age groups ahead of you and the guys who’ve won it. It’s something I’ve always aspired to.”

The first medalist to go wire-to-wire since 2015 champ Maverick McNealy, the No.1 seeded McCarthy sewed things up with a solid stretch to kick off the afternoon round. Already holding a 1-up lead, McCarthy would win five of the first six holes to open a commanding 6-up lead through 24 holes.

With wind suddenly a factor, on both the 19th (par-5 1st) and 20th holes McCarthy won with pars. Following another win on No.22 (hole 4), Briggs on the par-3 23rd couldn’t escape the greenside bunker. He’d eventually just concede the hole. On the ensuing 24th hole, Briggs missed a short putt while McCarthy had a great up-and-down for par to increase the lead to 6-up.

“The weather turned bad there. I knew that pars were the goal,” said McCarthy, who called the win his biggest so far. “I went into that grind it out mentality. That’s really when the match went to my favor.”

Briggs, a junior at University of San Francisco and the No.6 seed, was never able to recover. The England native did cut the lead to 4-up with wins on the 26th and 28th holes, but McCarthy bounced back with a birdie on the 29th hole (No.11) to again make it 5-up.

“Josh is a class player,” said Briggs, who had never played Spyglass Hill prior to the championship. “He’s not going to give you any breaks.”

Having been hampered by blisters since Tuesday’s play, Briggs at least had a caddie this time around. His girlfriend’s brother, Colby. And while he came up short, Briggs was nothing but smiles afterwards.

“Can you complain? This week was about getting in some reps before the season,” Briggs said. “I’d wanted to see where my game was.”

McCarthy had help all week on the bag from his father, John.

Looking ahead, McCarthy still has his senior season left. After that, it’ll be on to turning professional.

“I’m thinking I’ll possibly turn pro next June,” McCarthy said. “It depends on how the year goes.”

So far, it’s going very well.

Dylan McDermott, Madelyn Gamble 2018-2019 Players of the Year

July 31, 2019 

Boys’ Player of the Year—Dylan McDermott

From the moment the season started, Dylan McDermott had his sights set on Player of the Year honors.

While there’d admittedly be some ups and downs, he accomplished his goal. The Granite High junior won the title with a total of 2,124 points. His good friend, Sam Sommerhauser, would place second at 1,971.

“It means a lot to me to be Player of the Year,” McDermott said. “I had some events where I played really well and some where I didn’t play well. But I played good enough and consistent enough to keep my points up.”

He’d post wins at the Fall Series II and IV Championships and later added a runner-up place finish at the annual NCGA Junior Championship. For extra measure, McDermott also had three third place finishes—Spring Series VI, Summer Series III and the Tour Championship. It was his finish at the Tour Championship that sealed his crown.

He joins great company as a Player of the Year winner. Past champs include PGA Tour winner Bryson DeChambeau (2011) and former USC standout and No.1 world-ranked amateur Justin Suh (2013, 15’).

“I really want to follow in the footsteps of those guys,” McDermott said. “Hopefully I’ll be playing with them in the future.”

Girls’ Player of the Year—Madelyn Gamble

It seemed headed this way.

In 2017, Madelyn Gamble finished tied for 44th in the Girls’ Player of the Year standings. A year later, she quickly ascended to the No.5 spot.

For the 2018-2019 season, she finished No.1.

Still just a junior at Carondelet High, Gamble ended the season with 2,193 points. She’d edge runner-up Danielle Suh, who finished at 2,136.

“It’s an honor to win this award and join the company of some great golfers,” Gamble said. “I have worked really hard and am excited to see improvement in many aspects of my game.”

Gamble had a season to remember. She’d rack up three wins, at the Fall Series IV, Spring Series II and Summer Series I Championships.

The Pleasant Hill resident also had two runner-ups (Summer Series II, Holiday Series II) and was third at the Fall Series VI Championship.  Outside the JTNC, Gamble reached the semifinals of the 2019 San Francisco Women’s City and the quarterfinals of the California Junior Girls’ State Championship.

“The season I had has been very special,” Gamble said. “At the beginning of the season, I outlined some of the goals I had and, for the most part, I accomplished them. Overall this season was full of many positive and unforgettable experiences.”


JTNC Alum Noah Norton at the U.S. Open

It didn’t go exactly the way he wanted it to. Still, Junior Tour of Northern California alum Noah Norton was doing something over 9,000 players had hoped to do—play in this week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Norton, a native of Chico, opened with a disappointing 9-over 80 in Thursday’s first round.

But he was still competing. Approximately 9,100 players entered qualifying for the championship. Only 15 amateurs made it into the 156-man field. Norton being one of them.

“It’s tough. It beat me up,” said Norton, who still managed to sneak in a bit of a smile. “It was a good learning experience. I know what I have to work on.”

While it’s not the equivalent of a U.S. Open, Norton has been in a pressure cooker before. In 2016, he reached the finals of the California Amateur at Olympic Club before losing to P.J. Samiere.

“You want to learn from each of your experiences. It’s all preparation, about getting better and better,” Norton said. “I just played poorly.”

Norton can fall back on some strong support. As it was at the Cal Am, he again has a strong contingent of family and friends rooting him on, including his mom and dad.

“There’s so many friends here I can’t even count,” Norton said. “Playing Pebble in the U.S. Open. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

What Junior Golfers Really Think About the College Recruiting Process

At the 2018 National Golf Coaches Convention in Las Vegas, I spent a lot of speaking to coaches about the recruiting process. Based on the feedback, I decided to do something a little different; look at the recruitment process from the perspective of the junior golfer. With the feedback I collected I created a 10-question survey with some interesting questions. Then with the help of the Junior Tour of Northern California (THANK YOU!), collected response from 57 junior golfers. Here are the questions and what I found:

Q1: What percent more would a mid-major school have to offer you for you to turn down an offer from a major conference school like UCLA, Stanford or University of Florida?

Average Answer: 62 percent

Q2: How many times does a coach have to watch you play 9 holes for you to feel like they are REALLY interested?

Average Answer: 8

Q3: How many college teams do you follow on social media?

Average Answer: 7

Q4: Would you commit to a school without meeting the coaches or team and touring the facilities?

Answer: 16 percent – YES  84 percent – NO

Q5: Would you prefer: A better coach, a better facility or a better team travel schedule?


58 percent: better Coach
25 percent: Better Facility
17 percent: Better Travel Schedule

Q6: Would you pay to attend a one-day camp to interact with a coach of a school you are interested in?

82 percent – Yes
18 percent – No

Q7: What is the perfect age to make a commitment to play college golf?

Average Answer: 16 years old

We also asked players, what do you like most to see on social media from a college team? Since the question was qualitative, we got a range of answers but, in general, respondents wanted to see the team having fun/bonding/what the players are about, as well as the scores of the players (both in qualifying and tournaments).

Obviously, the average responses don’t necessarily tell the whole story. When looking closer at the numbers for example, I found that:

  • 70 percent of players indicated that if a coach watches them 2-4 times, they know they are very interested
  • 10 percent of players expected a coach to watch them 10 or more times to be very interested
  • 30 percent of players follow 1 or less team on social media while only 10% follow more than 25

For me, the most notable take-aways from the survey were the fact that junior golfers put the biggest priority on the coach, over facilities and scheduling by a significant margin. While building facilities are important, Athletic Directors should balance the investment in facilities with bigger investments in coaches.

It was also shocking that 14 percent of junior golfers would commit to a school without visiting the campus? Speaking to coaches at the convention, our guesses were that this number would be very close to zero, however clearly, I was wrong.

Let’s hear from you, what are the questions you want to see in the next survey? Any of the results from this survey shock you? Please comment below!

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