Monday, March 25 shapes us as one of the biggest days of the 2019 high school boys golf season, with Justin-Siena, the Johnny Miller Champ Foundation and Silverado Resort and Spa partnering to host the “Champ” High School Golf Classic.
Nineteen teams from around Northern California will play in the event, which has a 10 a.m. shotgun start on the Silverado North Course, the home of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open. The field includes Justin-Siena, Napa, Vintage and American Canyon.
Johnny Miller, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and a 25-time PGA Tour champion, created the Johnny Miller Junior Golf Foundation in 1993 to promote junior golf. In 2015, the foundation was renamed the Johnny Miller Champ Foundation, to honor his father, Larry Otto Miller, and his legacy in golf.
“I think it’s just going to be an outstanding day for the boys to enjoy, and hopefully something that they remember from their high school golf experience for many years to come,” said Ray Graziani, Justin-Siena’s head coach and the tournament chairman and director.
“One thing we really wanted to do was make this for the local groups as much as kind of branch out and get some of the better teams from outside of the area also.
“It’s just great to be able to put these guys on a championship course like the Silverado North Course. They’ll get to experience the course that the Tour players will be playing in September. I think that’s an exciting draw for these boys, to play that course. And then when they get to watch them in September it will bring back some good memories hopefully.”
Also entered are Stevenson-Pebble Beach, Granite Bay, St. Francis-Mountain View, Palma-Salinas, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep-San Francisco, Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland, Vacaville, Benicia, Petaluma, Casa Grande-Petaluma, Redwood-Larkspur, Marin Catholic-Kentfield, Branson-Ross, Tamalpais-Mill Valley and St. Vincent de Paul-Petaluma.
There are 95 players in the field, with four scores counting in the team scoring. There will be a long drive competition and an awards ceremony. Spectators are welcome, admission is free.
“It should be a great field and some great competition,” said Graziani. “We wanted to make sure we got the local teams and then tried to branch out also.
“For the first year, to get a full field, I’m very excited. We’re going to try to make it a very classy tournament.”
Stevenson, Granite Bay and St. Francis have each played in the CIF State Championships.
Granite Bay won the title and Stevenson was third in 2012 at San Gabriel Country Club.
Stevenson won the title in 2014 at Quail Lodge Golf Course at Carmel-By-The-Sea.
Granite Bay finished sixth in 2015 at Poppy Hills Golf Course at Pebble Beach.
St. Francis was fourth last year at San Gabriel Country Club.
Silverado’s ownership group has donated the North Course for the event, said Andy Miller, who works as Silverado’s design director.
“It’s good for our community and the opportunity for all these high schools to play in an event like this and on a course like Silverado that hosts a PGA Tour event,” said Andy Miller, who played golf at Justin-Siena High School, BYU and on both the Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour. “We just want to create a great experience for the kids, so that they can come away from it and say, ‘Hey, that was fun.’
“It gives people the opportunity to be able to play a championship golf course in high school. You don’t always get that opportunity. More than anything, I think it’s awesome for the kids in the community to be able to come out and play on a PGA Tour-level golf course. I think one of the reasons the PGA Tour likes it, it’s just a good test of golf. It’s not tricked up.”
Graziani, a PGA golf professional since 1992 who is in his 13th year leading the golf program at Justin-Siena, said he has always wanted to put on a tournament for high school teams.
“I thought it would be a great way to give back to the high school golf community and Silverado,” he said. “When the Champ Foundation came in and supported it to their fullest, it’s really allowed us to make it something special and something that we hope to be able to continue with for years to come.”
The PGA of America recognized Graziani, a Class A pro, as a quarter-century member in 2017.