Mac App

Home of the Facts

News and Views Post New Entry

The Life of a Golfer: Canadian Edition

Posted by Mac D on January 19, 2012 at 2:35 AM


Life can be described and symbolized in many ways. The growth of a flower and a roller coaster ride are some common examples but for Jonnie Motomochi his young and aspiring life can be described as the flight of a golf ball.


After contact, the ball gracefully takes off into the air in a beautiful sight and sound, traveling at high speeds, over a long distance before coming back down to earth and eventually to a stop. After this whirl wind the ball is eventually sunk into the hole completing a great journey.


This journey parallels the one Motomochi has taken as he has made his way from toddler to Senior at Oregon State where his life’s golf ball is about to be putted in for the last time.


Like most young athletes Motomochi found the sport he would learn to love and sweat over on television watching the greats -- Jack Nicklaus being his favourite -- dreaming he too could do the same one day. At the age of three his father, Gary took young Jonnie to the local Par-54 Sunshine Hills Golf Course, Delta where he would start to learn and hone his skill of the game first at the driving range and then on the actual course.


It would not take long before both the younger Motomochi and elder to realize something special was going on. Motomochi would take to the sport like a dog to a bone and from those early days the rest was history as his life’s golf ball was being launched by the junior sized driver.


At the tender age of ten a star was born, as Motomochi would win the 2001 US Kids Golf World Championship at Jekyll Island, Georgia. The following year, Motomochi would set out to defend his title but first embarked on a 23 day road trip with his father driving down the west coast making a few stops along the way to play in junior tournaments where he placed third and first at one in Palm Springs. After reaching Los Angeles the Motomochi’s would head east to Williamsburg, Virginia where Motomochi would re-claim his title as winner of the 2002 US Kids World Championship.


Following his second World Title, Motomochi was starting to be recognized for his skill, as schools such as Stanford were starting to take notice of the young golf phenom, but that was just the beginning. In 2003 Motomochi would become the youngest player to ever qualify for the Canadian Amateur Championship at the age of 12 by shooting a 77 on the par-73 course.


With being the youngest ever at anything, especially in sports, the media was all over the young Motomochi.


“It was cool, but too much for a twelve year old,” recalls Motomochi when looking back, “but it did help me with recruiting later on and was a great experience.”


Motomochi was proud of his accomplishment at the Canadian Amateur Championship as he played against golfers who were much older than him, with some being in university. The good fortune was not over as he received a pleasant surprise from the great Greg “The Shark” Norman who happened to be promoting his GPS product at nearby Mayfair Lakes in Richmond. Motomochi was asked if he would like to play a round with the former world number one golfer and of course he did.


“It was unbelievable to get a chance to play with Greg Norman” said Motomochi, “it was quite something to be just a kid and play with one of the greats.”


After playing with Norman and in the Canadian Amateur Championship it was back onto the road where Motomochi was looking for the three-peat at the US Kids Gold World Championship and just like 2001 and 2002 he won the 2003 event as a 12 year old. 2003 was quiet the year for the soon to be teenager and to add icing on the top, schools were sending pamphlets by the dozens hoping to lure the star to their school.


In 2006, Motomochi represented Canada against Ireland helping the team win the tournament for the first time in six years.


The following year, Motomochi was able to play at Torrey Pines for the first time in his career and in 2008 he returned again to the legendary golf course for the Junior World Championship which was also hosting the U.S. Open. He finished the tournament with a tie for 26th.  


All this was going on during his final two years of high school and the height of his recruitment. Motomochi held a top three of Kent State, Illinois and Oregon State.


Living in Delta, British Columbia the climate is very mild as it sees on average just 31cm (12 inches) of snow a year with around 24 of the 31cm coming in December and January. Champaign, Illinois sees an average of 71 cm (28 inches) of snow a year, Kent, Ohio 150cm (60 inches) and Corvallis, Oregon 15cm (6 inches). Why does this matter? “I hate snow” was Motomochi’s answer and by that comment one can see why Oregon State became the University of his choice. Another factor though was the sleepy college town feel of Corvallis which was a big pull. On his visit Motomochi “fell in love with [Oregon State]” and “knew I wanted to go to a small town that was also close to home.” Corvallis is a six and a half hour drive back to home.


The two main universities in the state of Oregon are Oregon State and the University of Oregon which is located in Eugene. In Eugene it is not a big thing if one sees a Beaver logo or clothing apparel but in Corvallis it is the opposite. “If you see a Duck logo, or anything people are not happy.” The rivalry between the two schools is called the Civil War game and it is the greatest in football, basketball and volleyball. A win in any of those games can make the season all the better.


As a Freshman Motomochi took part in eight tournaments as well as the Pac-10 Championships. His best finish was a tie for 22nd in the Wyoming Cowboy Classic. In 2009-2010 he played in half of the tournaments and finished with a scoring average of 73.95 – almost two full stokes lower than his freshman year -- and his best finish was 13th at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational. Motomochi also took part in his second straight Pac-10 Championships where he finished 42nd. That year Oregon State finished 16th nationally but lost their Coach, Brian Watts to Army due to greener pastures. Every year Motomochi improved with his Junior season being a coming out party as he played in all eleven tournaments and was selected to the Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team to go along with his first top-10 finish at the Pacific Invitational where he placed 7th. By the end of his Junior season, Motomochi finished with three top-20 placings. As well as playing in his third Pac-10 Championships Motomochi also took part in the NCAA Regionals.


Following the season to go along with his Pac-10 All-Academic selection, Motomochi was named 2011 Cleveland Golf/Srizon All-America Scholar which was selected by the Golf Coaches Association of America and was also recognized as a 2011 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar.


This will be Motomochi’s, Senior season and he hopes to go out with a bang improving on his breakout Junior campaign. He will also graduate in December of this year with a degree in New Media Communications where he hopes to work as a sports broadcaster. He is comfortable being in front of a camera which he can attribute to the press he received at such a young age.


Motomochi has been told he could make a career out of golf, capitalizing on his dream but the passion required to move to the next level really is not there. “I feel I could do it and others think so too…but that passion is not there to want to work every day for it to be a career at the next level.”


Motomochi’s life’s golf ball may be about to sink into the 18th hole after traveling thousands of yards and ending up on the green for one last final putt. But like golf, there is always another round to cart off to and Motomochi will do just that with his career in broadcasting.


Part two tomorrow looking at the life of a Student-Athlete.



Categories: Golf Blogs

Post a Comment

Oops!

Oops, you forgot something.

Oops!

The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In

17 Comments

Reply Galfur
5:00 AM on January 19, 2012 
The odds of getting to the top of galf, like every professional sport, are extremely long. One of my son's former hockey teammates decided he had a shot at galf. Dad took him out of school 3-4 years ago (home school was the ticket) so the kid could hang out at the club all day. When Galfur Jr made the high school galf team, I'd drop him off at the club range and the kid was always up there. Day in, day out, whacking galf balls.


He shipped off to PGA school this fall. I monitor his progress on facebook. Long odds from what I can tell. Each level you step up to is leaps and bounds more competitive than the prior.


I remember hearing a story from Rick Smith, teaching pro at Tree Tops in Gaylord, MI. Rick has instructed many top pros, so they asked him "if you're good enough to teach the best, why aren't you on tour playing against the best?"


In his response he explained that when he was on the PGA qualifying tour, he was playing against the likes of Paul Azinger (and a couple other notables...I forget the names). Rick would go out and consistently shoot 69-70 (2 or 3 under par). The only problem was, Azinger and the other notables would consistently card a 67-68. He said he simply learned that he did not have the ability (or passion/commitment) to overcome the difference and compete. We're only talking 1, 2 or 3 strokes per round!?!?!?!


"I feel I could do it and others think so too...but that passion is not there to want to work every day for it to be a career at the next level"


I'm sure that's part of what was behind Rick Smith and his 1, 2 or 3 stroke gap that he could not (or would not) attempt to overcome. You come to a point where you have to be honest with yourself. If you spend 8 hours a day practicing and playing and can't get over the top, will another 1 or 2 hours a day get you there? Sounds like Jonnie has come to a similar point of realization in his career.
Reply Ark_Razor
5:29 AM on January 19, 2012 
Very good diversionary read for me here, Galf. Strikes close to home on a lot of levels. I obviously never rose to the level that these people rose to, but having played probably 1500- 2000 rounds of golf so far (and none this century BTW), I can resonate with what you've written here.

So much of this game is mental and so much of it is consistency and so much of it is being prepared to address the fluky bounces and lies that will come your way during the round.

In 1984, the Vardon scoring difference between top money winner Hal Sutton and the 125th on the money list was less than a stroke a round! I knew what I needed to do to get to the pro level. At least I was good enough to understand WHY these guys are so good.

What I didn't know then (and fortunately, I made the right choice!) was whether or not my hard work would've been rewarded. There is also the nature of the work. It's one thing to play the course. It's another thing to get on a driving range and practice low fades, shots from crappy lies that you set up BUCKETS of balls at a time over the course of months. I didn't have that in me even if I may have had the ability to eventually consistently execute it- which was dubious at best.

Great read. You're taking me back to the 60's, 70's, and yes.... even 80's.
Reply Galfur
7:02 AM on January 19, 2012 
EXACTLY Ark. I read somewhere that Jack Nicklaus hit something like the equivalent of a boxcar full of galf balls before he even contemplated galf as a profession. Not sure how many galf balls can fit into a boxcar but even for a galfur, that is unfathomable.


Why did you stop playing Ark? It's a wonderful game, quality time for father and son. You can play as long as you can stand and walk. Surprised that you could walk away so thoroughly.
Reply the immortal scurds
7:08 AM on January 19, 2012 
and then there is music, a craft in which countless endless hours are spent practicing and honing the rough edge of subtle nuance into an esoteric blade of art that is subject to the whims of another's personal taste. you become very good, even proffessional, and your success or failure lies in the hands of others, circumstance, timing, even fashion. the truth is no matter how good you are there is always somebody better. opportunities granted and missed along the way, all the while your options narrow while your life slips buy. your friends are buying houses and having kids, getting promotions and building pensions, until you realize that its make or break time. passionate passtimes vs probabilities. its a dangerous equation that can leave you stranded.
Reply Ferociousjane
10:27 AM on January 19, 2012 
I allowed myself to come out of my self -imposed time out to smile at your article about "galf", Mac...and of course, Scurds's comment.

( Jane sulks back to the corner...)
Reply Galfur
11:45 AM on January 19, 2012 
Yes sir scurds.....and then there is the corporate world, where people go to try to make up for time wasted pursuing some other dream. It is ripe with politicians, assassins, nincompoops and arrogant asses. In other words, it is a true joy. I've been documenting the stories of very prominent people, extremely successful people whom my career has intersected with. I am convinced that they have given me a unique opportunity in life to retell their story in an appropriate forum. You've probably heard of the Blue Collar Tour (Jeff Foxworthy and company)? Forget "The Office". The zaniness by which corporations operate is deserving of a White Collar Tour stand-up act, based on real life stories. Might be the funniest material ever covered, easy to identify with and an endless supply to boot.
Reply Mac D
1:34 PM on January 19, 2012 
Galf - it's being honest with yourself and realistic. Jonnie used golf for his education which will help him in the next chapter and got to do something he loves along the way. Same with baseball for me. Justin Morneau used to hit 200 balls off a tee every night after already doing 3-4 hours of practice. What separates the greats.
Reply Galfur
1:52 PM on January 19, 2012 
Yeah, I'm pretty honest with myself most days, Doc says that's why I am depressed and deserve to be that way :) :) :)
Reply Mac D
1:57 PM on January 19, 2012 
Thanks Ark, Scurds and Jane
Reply the immortal scurds
5:08 PM on January 19, 2012 
I've seen some of that side of it too galf and it is a gong show. i would really enjoy reading your memoirs.
to me the point is a sports career is an all or nothing gamble. risky business
Reply Ark_Razor
5:08 PM on January 19, 2012 
Yea, scurds, I was at the point where I could've dabbled with the idea of doing music gigs (guitar); but I was 13. That didn't sit well with my parents. I would've like to at least pursue the dream; but even then I was aware of the "subjective" nature of the craft versus golf (EXTREMELY objective). Plus, there was a significant unsavory element involved with neither my parents or myself wanted to be a part of.

Galf, I'll tell you my galf history hopefully on 3/13.
Reply the immortal scurds
5:21 PM on January 19, 2012 
jane: no sulking. it makes a brady out of ya.
Reply Ark_Razor
8:43 PM on January 19, 2012 
Galf: Also, Jason Alexander (George Constanza) has a corporate gig where he plays a "corporate help" guru. I haven't seen it; but he's done it at conventions and my understanding is that it is hilarious. He understands the nuances and zaniness of the corporate world- which I also have seen up close.
Reply Galfur
9:00 PM on January 19, 2012 
Saw Jason Alexander at the Magic Castle in Hollywood in his first magic performance, back around 05-06 maybe. Very funny man, very talented, great material.


Look forward to March.
Reply the immortal scurds
10:50 AM on January 20, 2012 
pics galf.
Reply Galfur
6:24 PM on January 20, 2012 
No pics. I did speak to him, shake his hand, etc on the way out. The theaters in that place are very intimate. He stayed on stage as we all exited and to exit you had to walk right past the stage area. He was very down to earth.
Reply the immortal scurds
10:07 PM on January 20, 2012 
well then, the march event will do. dont have too much fun without us.