AGOSTINI: Veteran Ripon pro Don Winter claims tourney title in Santa Rosa

August 13, 2013 

Don Winter has checked every box on the club pro's to-do list over the years — taught lessons, worked in the pro shop, collected range balls, rode mowers to cut fairways and greens, plus many other unsung tasks.

By the way, he can still golf his ball.

Winter, 45, won the Northern California PGA Professional Championship, one of the region's top events, two weeks ago at Mayacama in Santa Rosa. He shot 71 and 69 for 4 under par 140, then two-putted from 30 feet for par on the first playoff hole to defeat Cordevalle's Ray Otis of San Jose.

"I wasn't really nervous until I stood over that 2-footer (for the win)," said Winter, a Ripon resident. "It is my best win by far."

He can't be blamed for feeling a little anxiety. His final nine began with bogeys at 10 and 11 but he recovered with four closing birdies to force the playoff.

Winter's $4,000 first prize wasn't his only reward. He'll lead six qualifiers to the 47th PGA Professional National Championship, a tournament televised by The Golf Channel, next June at Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The Ripon pro always has targeted the NorCal title ever since he won the NCPGA Assistant Pro championship in 1996. His career has spanned the valley with stops at Spring Creek CC, Merced CC, Manteca Park, Diablo Grande, Stevinson Ranch and Trinitas.

"I learned something from every pro I ever worked for," he said. "They all helped me."

Winter, a Manteca High graduate and the son of former Manteca golf coach and principal Steve Winter, always has competed on the NCPGA circuit. Long off the tee, he no doubt liked what he saw at Mayacama, a Jack Nicklaus design.

Today, he's an assistant pro at Castlewood CC in Pleasanton, where his duties take him to the club's Valley course. A junior clinic this week reminded him about his day-to-day priorities.

"Doing camps like this makes sure I have a job in 20 years," he said.

• THE SHAG BAG — Turlock's Spencer Heller, a former Division II All-American at Sonoma State, shot twin 76s and missed a playoff for the final match-play berth by two strokes last week at the U.S. Women's Amateur in Charleston, S.C. ... Jim Langley, the head pro at Cypress Point for 34 years, passed away last month. Tributes from all over the country flooded the Monterey Peninsula for Langley, who was minutes away from his 76th birthday when he died. He was the consummate pro and gentleman who forged on without the use of his right arm following an auto accident in 1987. ... Hilmar's Landon Azevedo tied for 19th at the 53rd California Junior Amateur at Beaumont. Anthony Bonales of Ceres tied for 33rd, and Hughson's Teo Chiesa missed the cut.

• HOLES-IN-ONE — Raul Perez, Modesto, 196-yard ninth at Oakdale CC, 5-wood. ... Jerry Lutterman, Oakdale, 174-yard ninth at Oakdale CC, 5-wood (on the fly!). ... Michelle Schilber, Escalon, 149-yard 12th at Oakdale CC, driver. ... Mary Atwell, Modesto, 80-yard second at Escalon, 5-iron. ... Jim Westall, Escalon, 165-yard ninth at Escalon, 3-iron.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter, @modbeesports.

Ron AgostiniGolf

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