Dave Solomon switched sports after getting cut from the baseball team as a freshman at Wilson High School in Long Beach.
He turned to golf – a game he had very limited experience in, from having only hit plastic golf balls in the backyard of his grandparents’ home.
“I started playing golf and just really enjoyed the individuality of it,” Solomon said last week. “My original golf coach was super supportive for all of us. It was you and the golf course.”
It has become the game of a lifetime and a career for Solomon, who joined Napa Valley Country Club on Oct. 30 as its new head PGA golf professional.
Solomon, 41, is the 2017 Player of the Year in the Northern California Section of the PGA – an honor that gets him an exemption into the field for next year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
“Everybody in the Valley loves golf,” said Solomon. “I’m just going to take that love and passion that they have and that I have for golf and just make it the best club that I can make it.
“It’s a great club. I’m here to bring the service and to make the club better, as well as I can. The members are super excited about golf. They love golf.
“I’m here to really promote it and get the word out and really want people in the area that don’t know about it to be able to see it and possibly join. It’s a really, really good golf course.”
Solomon became an All-Moore League player for Wilson his senior year. He went on to play four years of college golf for Long Beach State, where he was the team captain his senior season.
“I’ve only ever worked at golf courses,” said Solomon.
Solomon graduated from Long Beach State in 1999, earning a degree in marketing.
He turned professional in 2001 and played in mini tours for five years all over the country, including the Hooters Tour, Golden State Tour, Spanos Tour, and Tight Lies Tour.
He played the Canadian Professional Golf Tour in 2005.
Solomon won two events on the Golden State Tour and lost twice in playoffs on the Tight Lies Tour.
He went to the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament four times and advanced to the second stage once, in 2001.
Solomon plays in NorCal Section PGA events throughout the year, fitting in practice and play when he can, as well as days off.
“With having Mondays off and my background and what I love to do, that’s kind of my outlet. I try to play in almost all of the events I can play in,” he said.
He played in the 2015 Frys.com Open, a PGA Tour event at Silverado Country Club, and missed the cut after shooting 74-78 – 152. The cut was at 142.
He was 3-under through his first nine holes during the first round on the North Course.
“It was a good experience,” said. “You have to keep challenging yourself. I know that I’m not as good as the guys on the PGA Tour. But I love being in that situation. I love being around those guys. I love learning from those guys. It’s really neat that I’m able to immerse myself into that community, even now.”
Solomon played in this year’s Ellie Mae Classic, a Web.com Tour event, at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward. He missed the cut by 9 shots after rounds of 76 and 70.
“I had a real good second round and played real well,” said Solomon.
There are seven points events during the year that determine the NorCal Section Player of the Year.
This year, Solomon finished as the runner-up after going 4-1 at the NCPGA Match Play at Yolo Fliers Club in Woodland. He tied for fifth at the NorCal PGA Professional Championship, shooting rounds of 73, 72 and 75 at the Bayonet and Black Horse courses in Seaside. He tied for 24th at the Northern California Open, shooting 70, 69 and 81 at the Bayonet and Black Horse courses.
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which has a $7.4 million purse, is Feb. 8-11, 2018.
“I’m really just so excited to be a part of it that week,” said Solomon. “It’s going to be a really, really fun event.
“There’s not a lot of pressure on me because it’s not my job. It’s a bonus out there for me. It’s not as much pressure as people kind of think it is. Whether I make the cut or miss the cut, I’m still coming back to work that next week.”
Solomon spent two years as the first assistant golf professional at Diablo Country Club. He worked at Burlingame Country Club in Hillsborough for two years as the first assistant.
He spent five years at Ruby Hill Golf Course in Pleasanton as the first assistant.
He is vice-president of the Bay Area Chapter of the NorCal Section of the PGA.