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The Impressively Successful Summer Vacation of Junior Golfer Cole Ponich
My Summer Vacation
By Cole Ponich
My 2016-17 school-year ended on May 30, 2017. I didn’t have a normal summer vacation that most teenagers do – hanging out with friends, going to the pool or summer parties every day. The last few years I’ve missed the last week of school to start the summer junior golf season. I don’t think I have many if any signatures in my high school yearbooks because I always miss yearbook signing day. By the time I finish the summer junior golf season it is time for school to start and high school golf season has usually already started.
While I miss hanging out with my friends, I wouldn’t trade my junior golf experiences for anything. I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunities to travel to many places and play amazing golf courses in many national and international junior events.
My junior golf season actually starts in March but is limited to one or two tournaments a month until June. This year my season started with the FCG Texas Challenge in Frisco, TX. It didn’t start off too well shooting 85 – 75 and finishing 4th. I quickly rebounded in April by winning an AJGA Preview event at La Purisma in Lompac, CA. Then a week later winning the FCG Las Vegas Championship in Primm, NV. Most weekdays in the month of June I am trying to qualify for national junior events. I did have my birthday off this year, but chose to play golf that morning. Thanks to Rob Stanger for finding a sponsor for me and three buddies to play Victory Ranch on my birthday – it is my favorite course to play in Utah.
My Summer Vacation:
March 25, 2017 Winter Classic at Southgate – Finish: Champion – Score 66
April 21, 2017 Spring Junior at Sun River – Finish: 2nd – Score 66
May 19, 2017 UJGA Preview Invitational at Sun River – Finish: Champion – Score 69
May 20, 2017 UJGA Jay Don Blake Junior at Sun River – Finish: T4 – Score 71
May 31- June 1, 2017 IMG Junior World Qualifying at Mt. Dell and Talons Cove – Finish: Champion – Scores 69-71-67 (1st Qualifier)
June 5, 2017 UJGA Junior Amateur Match Play Qualifying at The Links at Overlake – Finish: Champion Score 65
June 6-8, 2017 UJGA Utah Junior Amateur Match Play Championships – Finish: T5
June 11-12, 2017 Junior PGA Qualifying at Soldier Hollow – Finish: T3 – Scores 75 – 70
July 14-16 Optimist International Qualifying – Finish: 2nd – Scores 70-68-68 (Qualifier)
June 19, 2017 UPGA Major PGA Junior Qualifying at Jeremy Ranch Golf and CC – Finish: Champion – Score 68
June 21-22, 2017 UJGA Mountainland Junior (Big I Qualifier) at Wasatch Mountain and Park City GC – Finish: Champion – Scores 63-67
June 26, 2017 USGA US Junior Amateur Qualifier at Talons Cove GC – Finish: Champion / Medalist – Score 64 (Qualifier)
June 28-30, 2017 UJGA Utah Junior Open (Utah Open Qualifier) at Glen Eagle and Riverside CC – Finish: T3 – Scores 71-64-74
Last year I had qualified for all of the national tournaments. I played decent but always had that one not so good round that caused me to miss cuts in all but one at the Optimist International, where I finished 25th. This year my goal was to make every cut and to finish in the top 10. The difference between last year and this year – I figured out how to score and put the needed rounds together to make the cuts. I am very proud of my “summer vacation” accomplishments.
July 2-5 Pinehurst Junior North South Championship – Pinehurst #8 and #2 – Finish: 2nd – Scores 67 – 74 – 68
July 10-14, 2017 IMG Junior World Championships – Torrey Pines South – Finish: T9 – Scores 77-70 -70 -74.
July 17-20, 2017 – Boy US Junior Amateur Championship – Flint Hills National, KS – Finish: T2 Stroke Play – Scores 65-69. Round of 64 won 1up, Round of 32 lost 3 and 2 to my future UCLA teammate Sean Maruyama.
July 22- July 27, 2017 Boys Junior Americas Cup – The Home Course, WA – Team Finish: 3rd – Individual Finish: T3 – Scores 70 – 71 – 73.
July 31 – August 4, 2017 Junior PGA Championships – The CC of St. Albans, MO – Finish: T7 – Scores 69 -72 – 67 – 71.
August 7 -10, 2017 Big I International Championship – Annandale GC, MS – Finish: T6 – Scores 71 – 73.
I returned home on August 11th after missing my connection in Dallas the previous night and immediately went to play golf with my high school team. I also earned an exemption into the Utah Open shooting a 65 in the PGA Junior Series Hidden Valley Major Championship. I am super exited for the Utah Open and hopefully it will be a great ending to an awesome summer vacation.
School starts on August 23 and high school golf is in full swing. I missed our first regions tournament but shot a 65 at HAFB on 8/15 and then a 64 at Sun Hills GC on 8/17 to win low individual at the next two region tournaments. My personal goal is to win a High School State Championship before leaving to play for UCLA in the summer of 2019. Next summer will be the last summer I will be eligible to play in the junior events and I hope it is another amazing summer vacation.
CLICK HERE to read Cole's story in the latest edition of Fairways 18.
CLICK HERE to follow Cole's journey to the big leagues.