Scott McCarron’s life as a golfer really took off when he made his home in Napa and played out of Silverado Resort and Spa.
It was the early 1980s, and when he wasn’t playing for the Vintage High School Crushers, he was hanging out with the likes of Johnny Miller, Jim Wiechers, Rod Funseth, Ron Cerrudo and Mark Lye — men who played the PGA Tour and took a liking to McCarron, helping him with his game and telling him what it takes to become a professional player.
McCarron worked hard on his game — his driving, fairway shots, short irons and putting — after school, on weekends and over the summer, spending day after day at Silverado’s North and South courses and practice facility. He became one of the top junior players in Northern California.
McCarron is now 46. He played college golf at UCLA and is in his 18th year on the PGA Tour. He’s a three-time champion and has more than $12 million in career earnings.
On Tuesday, McCarron will be inducted into the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame during its 53rd annual awards banquet at The Inn At Spanish Bay on the Monterey Peninsula. The event is held during the week of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which begins Thursday.
“I was very surprised when they called me and told me that I was getting in the Hall of Fame,” McCarron, a resident of La Quinta said last week in a phone interview. “I thought that was quite an honor. I didn’t realize I was old enough to get in the Hall of Fame yet, so I guess I am. I never thought something like that would happen through my career. It’s been a great career so far. I still feel like I have a lot of good golf ahead of me.”
There will be plenty of thank-yous for McCarron, a 1983 Vintage graduate, to pass around during his acceptance speech.
He can start with his parents, Barry and Gloria, for driving him around to play in junior tournaments all those years.
He’ll recognize his mentor and sports psychologist, Dr. Glen Albaugh. With Albaugh’s help, McCarron learned how to set goals and how to play the game at a high level.
There is also his swing coach, Jim Hardy, who was instrumental in getting McCarron back in top form in 1999 when he wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue in the game.
McCarron will be sure to thank his wife, Jennifer, who has been by his side through the highs and lows that come with cashing checks and missing cuts in tournaments from week to week. Jennifer never hesitated when Scott told her 21 years ago that he wanted to quit his job after four years in an apparel and embroidery company with his dad and go play professionally for a living.
“She said go for it. She’s been my biggest cheerleader and my biggest fan and has meant a tremendous amount for me to be able to play this game for as long as I have,” McCarron said.
There could be some special memories of his time in Napa that McCarron will tell the induction audience. He hasn’t forgotten his days as a junior and all the work that he put into is game, both playing and practicing.
“When my parents moved to Napa, that was one of the keys for me to really grow as a golfer,” he said.
McCarron remembers getting bunker lessons from Funseth and playing with Wiechers and Cerrudo when they took time off from the Tour.
“They taught me a lot about golf and how to play and all the aspects that you need to be a Tour player,” he said.
McCarron joins a Hall of Fame that features Johnny Miller, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Al Geiberger, George Archer, Juli Inkster, Mark O’Meara, Ken Venturi and Dave Stockton. Also in the Hall of Fame are Bob Rosburg, Funseth and Lye, each of whom has ties to Silverado, along with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Phil Harris and Clint Eastwood.
It’s a virtual Who’s Who of golf in California.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said McCarron. “A lot of these guys were my idols growing up as a young kid. Eighteen years seems like a long time to play on the PGA Tour, and for me to be able to grow up and play golf for a living, do what I love to do ... has just been wonderful. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. There’s been a lot of highs, a lot of lows. But again, I get to play a game for my job. It’s absolutely wonderful.”
“I’m not done yet,” he said.
McCarron is regarded as one of the best-liked players on the PGA Tour, where he has three victories. He was introduced to golf by his father, and won his first tournament, a father-son event in Seattle, at age 4. He earned a golf scholarship to UCLA, where his team went on to win the 1988 NCAA Championship.
“For him to be in (the Hall of Fame), it’s a feather in Scott’s cap,” said Wiechers. “I’m very proud of him. That’s a nice thing to happen to him. He’s had a very nice career, obviously, on the Tour. But he gets rewarded for being such a nice kid. He’s such a nice guy.”
After an amateur career that saw him win a Napa City Championship, McCarron turned pro and played mini tour golf all over the country. Finally, in the fall of 1994, he made it through the PGA Tour Qualifying School after three attempts.
“That’s one of the things that’s great about golf — you can have a very long career,” said McCarron, who plans to play the Champions Tour when he turns 50. “I’m playing golf now with a lot of young kids who are 22, 23, 24 years old, and to be at 46 and still feel like you’re competitive with them is a lot of fun. I’m seeing some of the next generations coming up that are going to be some of the superstars.”
McCarron has been a guest speaker at qualifying school, addressing the rookie class, and has been the host of the Reno-Tahoe Open.