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Tommy Sharp: Do What You Love, Never Look Back
(Photo courtesy of Golf Lab in SLC, UT)
By Beaux Yenchik, UGA Intern
In American society, many people do not end up working in their originally planned career fields. For some, it must be a comfort thing. For others, they don't quite have the patience to wait things out. Yet, there are the occasional few where such a change makes all the difference in the world.
Majoring in finance from Colorado State University and later receiving his MBA from the University of Utah, Tommy Sharp ventured his way around the business world for six to seven years following his time at college and being an assistant golf professional. He worked for Wells Fargo & Company as a retail banker and a stock trader, and then later managed portfolios for Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (SPS).
Life was comfortable.
Though grateful and happy to be employed, Sharp found something was missing. His heart yearned for something else. Something that had and would always make him happy – golf.
“Even when I was working fulltime in finance, I was still, every single night, at the range practicing [and] playing competitively on the weekends in the local UGA tournaments,” Sharp said.
Golf runs through the Sharp blood like water does through the ocean. His uncle was a golf professional. His father was an avid golfer and so was his grandpa – the individual, in fact, that got Sharp hitting range balls at the age of 5. Needless to say, if you were born in the Sharp family, you played golf.
Sharp lived at Bonneville Golf Course during his summers growing up. Sharp even said he refers to Bonneville GC as his “summer day care” – a place his parents would drop him “off in the morning and pick [him] up after work.” As a Salt Lake City native, Sharp honed his skills as he practiced every day on one of the valley’s most popular courses. (Maybe that is why he is so good!)
Growing up, Sharp competed in local and national junior tournaments, as well as playing for Rowland Hall where he attended kindergarten through 12th grade. Having had much success while playing in school, Sharp went on to play at CSU – playing with the likes of Utah’s own Darrin Overson and the PGA Tour’s Martin Laird.
Sharp had even distinguished himself as one of the state’s top golfers when he won the Utah State Amateur Championship in 2003 at Thanksgiving Point Golf Course.
Yet, the amateur scene began to get a little old. So what did he do? Sharp turned professional after graduating with his bachelor’s degree. Leaving the Salt Lake area behind, Sharp worked at the Phoenician Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona for just a few short years.
Realizing that the old adage of people not making money in golf administration was true, or so he thought at the time, Sharp returned to school to further his education and improve his chances of getting a well-paying job in the finance world.
Even after having success as a banker, etc., Sharp still imagined his future to be more heavily associated with golf. Yet, something was keeping him from doing so. What could it have possibly been?
Well, it was a conversation with his dear wife, Azy. He desparetly wanted to return to what he loved and make money doing it. He knew the income would come from either playing in tournaments or finding a niche within the industry that would set him apart from everyone else. Whatever it was, it didn't matter.
So, what was her response to Sharp changing careers? Nothing but support and encouragment.
“I was nervous to talk to her,” Sharp said. “I remember kind of building up the guts to ask her what she thought about it … She kind of subscribes to the same idea as me that if you’re going to be successful in anything, you have to love what you do.”
With the weight of having to talk to his wife about the career change off his back, Sharp has yet to look back.
Still happily married and a father to two children, Sharp has managed to succeed in both worlds within the golfing industry. He is a co-owner of Golf Lab (a Golf Channel Academy institution) and plays in local tournaments against the likes of Zach Johnson, Chris Moody and Joe Summerhays – all friends of Sharp – throughout the state on a regular basis.
Sharp, who is humble in nature, has quite the list of accomplishments beyond his State Amateur win – his greatest golfing achievement – several years ago:
-2017 Utah Section PGA Teacher of the Year
-Played in 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club
-Played in PGA Professional Championship from 2014-2017
-2016 and 2017 Utah Section PGA Player of the Year
For a game that “beats you up 99 [times] out of 100,” Sharp sure has found a lot of success in something that has proved to be so difficult.
“[Golf] is so hard,” Sharp stated. “It changes day to day. Once you have it, doesn’t mean you are always going to have it.”
Now having kids and other priorities in life that hold a lot of value, Sharp still wants to accomplish some lofty goals within his career: continue to win locally, play in another PGA Championship, and turn his playing success into further success as a teacher.
Even though Sharp plans to have his two boys play golf with him, despite the fact that his wife does not play, he loves nothing more than spending time with his family. It can be skiing, watching the U of U’s sporting events, or simply staying at home.
Tommy, thank you for showing us that if one has a true love for something and is willing to put in the work, all things are possible.