AGOSTINI: Del Rio Country Club instructor names NorCal PGA Teacher of the Year

ragostini@modbee.comNovember 11, 2013 

Bill Johnson arrived at DelRio Country Club with goals in mind.

Develop his plan called Team Johnson. Beef up the club's junior golf program. Make the game more enjoyable for everyone he touches.

So far so good.

The Del Rio membership has learned what many Bay Area golfers have understood for years — that Johnson knows what he's doing. Though the Modesto club's director of instruction gained full-time status only since March (he's been at Del Rio the last three years), he has made a fast impression.

Johnson, 50, has been named the 2013 Northern California PGA Teacher of the Year, an honor for which he'll be recognized at the NCPGA's annual meeting on Dec. 8 at Contra Costa CC in Pleasant Hill.

His work with collegians, PGA Tour pros, top juniors, celebrities and professional athletes in other sports has been noticed for many years during his tenure at San Jose CC. He mentored Joseph Bramlett, who qualified for the U.S. Amateur at age 14 and currently plies his trade on the Tour. Another student is Dublin's Jacob Solomon, who tied for third this year at the 38th PGA Junior.

"I measure the performance of my teaching by how successful my students are," Johnson said.

Consider Team Johnson, his junior development program. Students receive both private and group coaching and they're encouraged to advance through four levels — introductory, game development, tournament preparation and college preparation.

"He's building an academy. We were lucky to get him," said Duncan Reno, Del Rio manager. "I haven't heard a single negative thing about him. He focuses on your game, not his."

Last year, Johnson was selected as an honorable mention for the U.S. Kids Top 50 Kids Teachers award. At Del Rio, he's implemented various initiatives, including the Northern California Golf Association's Youth on Course, Tee it Forward and Golf Industry Supplier Diversity.

Johnson, a Sonora resident, cut his commute dramatically by switching positions from San Jose to Del Rio.

"Bill's complete understanding of the game, his strong communication skills, and his calm demeanor make him excel in this role," said Ted Mattila, NCPGA awards chairman.

For evidence of Johnson's work, visit

THE SHAG BAG — When East Union sophomore Brooke Riley shot 76 on Monday at Spring Creek Country Club in Ripon — thus qualifying for the CIF State Championships — she jogged the memory. Riley, a lefty, placed third at NorCals, matching the third-place finish by Modesto High's Julianna Uhrik in 2002. And before Shawnee Martinez's three straight Sac-Joaquin Section Masters titles for Enochs (2009, '10 and '11), there was her older sister Marina Martinez. Marina won the NorCal title in 2006. Following in their footsteps is Riley, who plans a few practice rounds at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, the venue for State on Nov. 20. ... A correction from our Masters coverage: Merced's Lauren Coonce led her team by shooting a 91. Coonce took up the game only 15 months ago. ... Riley and Hilmar's Landon Azevedo were named the juniors of the year during the 21st Andy Silva Memorial Tournament last month at Diablo Grande. Finalists were Anthony Bonales of Central Valley, Teo Chiesa of Turlock, Taylor Beckwith of Pitman and Mabel Wong of Oakdale. Earning golf scholarships were Brooke Anderson and Erica Swanson of Gregori and Josh Dimas of Pitman. The tournament at Diablo Grande's Legends course featured a hole-in-one by Ceres High's Brittany Turnbow, who aced the 125-yard eighth with a 9-iron. The best gross scrambles score was a 56 turned in by Jeff Lucero and Nick Petisich. Tod Hansen and Fike Filan captured the A Flight (58) and Greg and Steve Larsen took the B Flight (53). Also honored was long-time tournament sponsor Charlie Evans of California Rock Crusher.

HOLES-IN-ONE — Dave Fallquist, Modesto, 150-yard 17th at Jack Tone Golf, 9-iron. ... Bob Wood, Ripon, 132-yard 11th at Jack Tone, 8-iron. ... Syrmo Alberti, Ripon, 92-yard 6th at Jack Tone, 7-iron.

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