From Walmart clubs to pro golfer

Tahoma High grad Jeremy Johnson was sidelined from his favorite sport, baseball, in high school when he tore his rotator cuff and was told he’d never pitch again. But Johnson couldn’t sit out for long.

Tahoma High grad Jeremy Johnson was sidelined from his favorite sport, baseball, in high school when he tore his rotator cuff and was told he’d never pitch again. But Johnson couldn’t sit out for long.

“I don’t like to just sit around on the couch, I like sports,” Johnson said.

While on vacation Johnson and a friend decided on a whim to play a round of golf — Johnson’s first ever. On the fifth hole, with the sun in his eyes, Johnson hit a hole in one. He was hooked.

“Then four months (later) I have this set of clubs from Walmart and I go out and made the varsity high school golf team,” Johnson said.

Mike Hanson, one of the golf team coaches at Tahoma, described Johnson as focused and dedicated.

“He began golfing in high school and within one year was one of our best golfers.” Hanson wrote in an email interview. “Most of the kids have played since they were little.”

After graduating from Tahoma in 2009 Johnson played for Green River Community College for two years and played in some local events as an amateur. He also started working at local golf courses teaching lessons and started going through the business side of the PGA program.

Johnson went pro a year and a half ago and plays on the Pepsi Tour.

In January Johnson moved to Arizona to play in Pepsi Tour tournaments, finishing in the top 10 in four out of the five tournaments he played.

“I had the time of my life down there,” Johnson said.

He came back to the Northwest in April to do some more teaching through this summer at Jade Greens, after which he plans to hit the tournament schedule hard.

Johnson has also volunteered with Tahoma team as his schedule has allowed.

“He’s passionate about golf and has a knack for being able to pass his wisdom on to others,” Hanson wrote. “The coaching staff at Tahoma is very proud of him.”

Johnson said his favorite aspect of golf is how it has challenged him to grow on a personal level.

“There’s the competitive side, but I like who it has made me as a person,” Johnson said. “Golf has taught me to be positive with life and focus on those things.”

Some of the key things Johnson said he has learned are patience, responsibility and respect.

“It’s a respectful sport, it’s an honorable sport,” Johnson said. “It’s all on you, out there on tour we’re all going for the same goal and we want to do this for a living.”

Johnson largely taught his swing to himself, with help from his dad who played golf at the college level. These days Johnson calls Doug Campbell, who also teaches at Jade Greens and played in the tour, his swing coach — whom he goes to when he needs feedback and help adjusting his swing.

“I love to hate this sport. One day you’re playing the best golf of your life and the next day you feel like you’ve never held a golf club before.”

Johnson said his favorite round was when he was 17 and playing at Lake Wilderness Golf Course and shot 61, setting the course record.

“I can remember that span when I couldn’t miss a shot,” Johnson said. “I was just out there with some regular golfers and I wasn’t thinking about a low score.”

Johnson hopes to keep working his way up the levels of the PGA, which includes several different tours, and eventually earn his card to play in the PGA Tour.

“They say it’s hard to make it on the Tour, but it’s even harder to keep your Tour card,” Johnson said.

He went on to explain that the Tour consists of the top 125 money-earning golfers in the world and to stay on the list you have to make enough money through sponsorships to stay at the top.

One of the hardest aspects of golf, Johnson said, is the mental game.

“I think golf is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical,” Johnson said. “It’s mentally exhausting. You step up to that first tee at Q School and you have all this pressure…this isn’t just a practice round with your friends. The second that you have one negative thought you’ve just knocked yourself out…It’s the hardest part about the sport — being negative and being positive. It’s hard enough to hit the ball straight, but hit is straight and stay positive, that’s impossible.