As an Arizona native who was born in Tucson and grew up in the Phoenix area, Papago was my home course and I worked there as a teenager. As a bunch of muni-players, our Coronado High School team captured three state championships during my four years.
I was a member of the ASU golf team but did not play on any traveling teams. After graduation and a short stint on the amateur tour, I began my golf professional career at the Mountain Shadows Golf Club. After 3 years as an apprentice, I earned my PGA status in 1980.
Employed as a sole proprietor, assistant professional, head professional, director of golf or teaching pro in a myriad of locations in states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nevada, Kentucky and Arizona, I finally landed in beautiful Prescott. I retired as the director of golf at the club at Prescott Lakes in March of 2017 and am now a golf coach/instructor at Antelope Hills Golf Course.
During these employment journeys, I was blessed to be a father to two wonderful sons, John Jr. and Ray, who reside in Phoenix. I am engaged to my soulmate, Diana Rittenhouse, and we reside in Prescott with our chocolate lab, and soon-to-be therapy dog, Palmer.
Coaching the USA Junior Golf Team and traveling to China twice to compete in the Aaron Baddeley International Junior Championship were truly memorable experiences. I have been on the National PGA Junior Golf committee and developed the FUNdamental Golf Program for juniors as well as serving on the Junior Golf Association of Arizona and Southwest Section PGA Boards.
Upon arrival in Prescott, I founded and coached the Bradshaw Special Olympics Golf Team and continue to do so. I also work extensively with fundraising for our local Special Olympics programs including the Smiles for Special Olympics comedy show at the Elks Theater on May 12 and the Special Cars Fore Special Athletes car show on Oct. 14 at the Club at Prescott Lakes.
In conjunction with the Northern Arizona VA Medical Center and the members at the Club at Prescott Lakes we began a disabled veterans golf program to assist our veterans in their healing process through golf. I continue to place importance on my quest of giving back to our veterans, being a member of the PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) task force in Arizona.
Here’s to sharing with you some interesting, educational and entertaining information on golf every other week in my new column, “Tee it Up.” In the words of my mentor and idol, Arnold Palmer, “Thank God for the game of golf.”
John Gunby Sr. is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Reach him by email at email@example.com.