YOUNTVILLE — Doug Yarris grew up around the game of golf. He started playing at the age of 6 and hasn’t stopped.
He got his first hole-in-one at the age of 12 at Napa Valley Country Club and played in junior tournaments around the Bay Area. He was the top player on teams at Vintage High School and Napa Valley College. He played major college golf at Stanford.
He was just 18 years old when he qualified for the 1976 Kaiser International Open Invitational, a PGA Tour event that was held at Silverado Resort and Spa. He didn’t make the cut, but playing with the world’s best golfers for two days, for 36 holes, hitting shot after shot, gave him loads of confidence and a lifetime of memories.
He was an assistant to head coach Jim Costan for four years with the Vintage Crushers boys golf team. He was tournament director for the Bill Nunes Memorial Crusher Classic Golf Tournament, a fundraiser that supports Vintage High athletics. He is the tournament director for next year’s Kids in the Clinic, an event at the Olympic Club’s Lake and Ocean courses that will benefit the UOP School of Dentistry in San Francisco.
Yarris doesn’t have the time to play golf like he once did, but he still works at his game, hitting balls at the driving range and spending time on the practice green with his putting.
“He’s a real talented, talented guy,” said Bob Boldt, a PGA golf professional and the director of instruction at Vintner’s Golf Club. “I told him, ‘You’re in the wrong business. You should be out on the (Champions Tour). He sort of laughed a little bit. He is that good. He has that much talent.”
Boldt, who has played both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, added, “Golf isn’t his priority, but it should be. He’s just unbelievable. He’s just such a prince of a guy. He can just do everything.”
Yarris did just about everything for the Napa Valley College men’s golf teams from 1975 to 1977. He was the team MVP and the Golden Valley Conference Player of the Year both seasons, 1976 and ’77. His scoring average was a conference-low 74.18. While at NVC, he won seven tournaments in a row. His coach was Bob Steen, who had a passion for the game, and one of his teammates was Mike Cook, who went to Napa High.
In July, Yarris was elected to the NVC Athletic Hall of Fame. He joins a class that has Jerry Somerville, John Langenbach, Lori Cook and Al Vermeil.
“Napa College was a great fit,” said Yarris, 55, who makes his home in Yountville. “I was always a student first and an athlete second. Education was so strong in my heart. The teachers I had at Napa College were outstanding.
“I knew in my heart I wanted to go to Stanford. Looking back on it, Stanford was a great experience.”
This year’s Hall of Fame class will be honored at a dinner and awards ceremony on Sept. 21 at Chardonnay Golf Club from 5:30 to 9 p.m. For information on how to make reservations for the event, call 256-7113, 253-3222 or 256-7170 The cost is $60 per person.
“It’s an honor, it’s humbling,” said Yarris. “Every day I try to do my best. You never think about honors.”
Yarris was recruited out of NVC to play for Stanford. He played for coach Bud Finger and later coach Bruce Summerhays. He graduated in 1980 with a degree in human biology.
Busy in other areas of life
Yarris loves the game, but he is busy in other areas of his life.
He is a dentist and has a practice in Crockett. He’s on the board of directors for the Buck/Cardinal Club, which raises funds for men’s and women’s athletic scholarships at Stanford. He’s a member of the board of directors for the Pacific Dugoni Foundation, which is part of the UOP School of Dentistry in San Francisco.
He has supported the Stanford athletic department in many projects over the years.
Giving back, doing all he can to assist different beneficiaries and charities, is big with Yarris.
He was involved with the Christina’s Smile Children’s Dental Clinic, a program designed to deliver quality comprehensive charitable dental care to children in need in the communities that host PGA Tour and Champions Tour tournaments. He helped out with Christina’s Smile, a nonprofit mobile dental care facility that provides free dental care to children in need, during the years of the Transamerica Senior Golf Championship at Silverado.
“That theme of giving back, it’s followed me through my life,” said Yarris.
Growing up at a time when Johnny Miller, Jim Wiechers, Rod Funseth, Ron Cerrudo and Mark Lye all played out of Silverado was inspiring to Yarris.
He remembers Miller helping out teams that Yarris played on. Miller was a 25-time PGA Tour winner and is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
“Many times I’d be out there and he’d say, ‘Let’s go play a few holes.’ That was pretty amazing, to have literally the best player in the world right there,” said Yarris.
Yarris’ dad, Raymond Yarris, and Bruce Crampton were friends. Crampton had 14 career wins on the PGA Tour between 1961 and 1975. He was ranked among the top five golfers in the world in both 1972 and 1973. Crampton won the Vardon Trophy for the player with the lowest stroke average on the PGA Tour in 1973 and 1975.
Crampton stayed with the Yarris family when Silverado hosted PGA Tour events.
“Bruce became a family friend, and every year he’d come up and stay with us for a week,” said Yarris. “He had an incredible work ethic. He would putt for hours at our house on the carpet, back and forth. I would ask him, ‘Why do you have to putt so much?’ He said, ‘You can never get perfect.’ ”
Joe Marelich, who coached golf at Vintage, spent time on the weekends with Yarris, helping him with his swing. Yarris was the Crushers’ MVP, an All-North Bay League player, and set school records. He graduated from Vintage in 1975.
Craig Williamson, Silverado’s head PGA golf professional at the time, hired Yarris to work on the driving range and cart area.
During the time that his son, Travis, played at Vintage, Yarris coached boys golf as an assistant. The Crushers had a very good run, winning three Monticello Empire League titles.
“He was a big reason why we won three championships in the four years that he was there,” said Costan, who is a P.E. teacher at Vintage. “He has tremendous knowledge of the game and he spent a lot of time and effort, teaching the kids and helping the kids with their game. I give him a lot of credit for our success.
“He got a chance to go play golf at Stanford. He loves the game of golf. He was able to relate that to our players. The kids truly believed in him and what he said. He was a great role model for these kids, what it takes to be successful.
“I’m very happy for him. He’s a person who is very deserving of something like this.”
Yarris took the Vintage team to Hawaii for six days during the 2006 season. The Crushers faced Punahou, one of Hawaii’s top teams and a multiple winner of Hawaii High School Athletic Association titles, in an exhibition match — dubbed the “Battle of the Pacific” — at the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore. Punahou won the match, 299-311.
Vintage had two other matches rained out, but still got in 54 holes of golf, as it played at Ko Olina Golf Club and Ko’olau Golf Club.
The trip, planned and organized by Yarris, was made possible by private donations. In addition to golf, the Crushers also visited other parts of Oahu, including Pearl Harbor, Waikiki and the Pipeline, a major surfing area.