Golf still guides former district standout

August 20, 2013 

Reed and Julianna Burkholder

COURTESY BURKHOLDER FAMILY

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textRon Agostini
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Sports
    Bio: Ron Agostini has served as a sports reporter and columnist for The Bee for more than 35 years. His stories and columns have won state-wide, regional and national awards and he's a board director and past president of the California Golf Writers and Broadcasters Association. He's a graduate of Fresno State.
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Julianna (Uhrik) Burkholder vowed she'd never work in a pro shop or give lessons.

Today, she's doing both.

"I never thought I would enjoy this," she said last weekend.

File under, "Who knew?"

Life's twists and turns have escorted Burkholder to northern Iowa. We remember her as Julianna Uhrik, the Modesto High star who logged four successful seasons on the Oregon State golf team.

She graduated from Oregon State in 2008 and, after a three-year try on the mini-tour circuit, planted stakes in Forest City, Iowa. Nearby is Rice Lake Country Club, a semi-public 18-hole property featuring a membership of about 400 and Burkholder as its pro shop manager.

"Crazy how golf has brought me this far," she said.

Start with Reed Burkholder, who caddied for Julianna on the Canadian Tour. Reed, raised in Forest City, and Julianna will celebrate their first wedding anniversary on Thursday.

Julianna worked in a small practice-range golf shop until the job at Rice Lake opened earlier this year. Urged by her husband and friends to apply, she sent in her resume and eventually dived into a brand new golf experience.

The combo golf/business position promises long days, none of them boring. Burkholder, 28, arranges tee times, sells equipment, helps members with their swings, orders merchandise, and even makes sure the restaurant is running smoothly. She also books wedding receptions.

"Thank the Lord I don't have to do the cooking," she said. "It is a lot to handle. Golf is what I know."

Burkholder, 27, has been guided by golf most of her life. She excelled in junior tournaments and continued to improve at Modesto High, where she became the Stanislaus District's top female player. The awards and recognition poured in:

• She placed third at the CIF Northern California Championships in 2002.

• She was named the Stanislaus County Prep Athlete of the Year at the 2003 Outstanding Athlete Awards (OAA) Dinner.

• She and professional David Eger tied for seventh at the inaugural First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in 2004 (they led the pro-junior division after the first round). She moved to Corvallis, Ore., the next day to begin her collegiate career.

• She also qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur in 2006 and '08.

Burkholder gave golf her full attention during her years on the Cactus, Canadian and Futures (now known as the Symetra) tours. But other than a few third-place finishes, she couldn't gain traction.

"There was always something missing. My timing wasn't quite right for it. My parents and a few friends helped me (monetarily), but I didn't want to take money from people. That didn't sit well with me," she said. "But I did meet my husband."

One of her latest perks is a long off-season. Snow restricts Rice Lake to mid-March-to-October service.

That said, golf always has steered Burkholder straight and true, like a well-struck tee shot.

"It's been a learning experience. I find myself doing just about everything. Sometimes I feel like I should just bring a bed into the pro shop," she said. "I just feel fortunate to have this opportunity."

• THE SHAG BAG — The Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, which celebrates its 10th anniverary Sept. 27-29, for the first time will not have a junior entry from the local First Tee chapter. But there will be local representation in Brent Gardner, a board member from the Central Valley chapter, who will compete in the amateur team division. ...

Teams from Del Rio CC and Escalon finished 1-2, respectively, over a field of 22 area teams at the NCGA Central Valley Zone Championship. The Del Rio foursome — Richard Deponte, Dennis Culbertson, Tim Speer and Don Barbe — finished the 36-hole event with a total of 44-under-par 242 (the two best net scores per hole count). They set up their victory with four straight net eagles to open the second round at Quail Lodge.

The Escalon team — Jess Bradley, Tom McCarthy, Brad Haskin and Glen Shaw — trailed by eight strokes despite a strong first round at Del Monte. Creekside finished two strokes behind Escalon in third place. Del Rio and Escalon advance to the 47th NCGA Zone Championship on Monday and Tuesday at Spyglass Hill. ...

Jim and Jane Findarle, a local husband-and-wife tandem, won the 72nd Sacramento City Mixed Scotch Championship last week at Bing Maloney in Sacramento. The pair dominated the event with a low gross score of 63, six strokes better than the field. ...

Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, a former St. Mary's College star, became the first player in 51 years to win the NCGA's Stroke Play and Match Play titles in the same year. Geyer is the son of Andy Geyer, the former Cal State Stanislaus star (1980 and '81).

• HOLE-IN-ONE — Ron Campbell, Modesto, 176-yard third at Del Rio CC (River), 7-wood.

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

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