U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Summerhays' Summer Continues at Inverness, SentryWorld July 17, 2019 | Toledo, Ohio By Michael Trostel, USGA

Preston Summerhays is carrying on the family's golf legacy at this week's U.S. Junior Amateur. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

U.S. Junior Amateur Home

Several households can lay claim to the title of “First Family of Golf,” including the Nicklauses, Haases, Turnesas and Morrises (of Old and Young Tom fame). But you’d be hard-pressed to find a unit that has had more success in the past few years than the Summerhays family of Utah.

Golf is in their blood. It started in the 1930s and ‘40s, when Pres Summerhays was the head golf coach at the University of Utah. One of his sons, Bruce, won three events on the PGA Tour Champions and earned more than $9 million in prize money.

Another one of Pres’ sons, Lynn, was captain of the golf team at Utah and had two sons of his own: Daniel, who has played eight years on the PGA Tour, earning top-10 finishes in both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 2017; and Boyd, who won 20 professional tournaments and is now a swing coach for several Tour players, including Tony Finau.

If that golf lineage isn’t impressive enough, the best may be yet to come.

Boyd’s son, Preston, 16, and daughter, Grace, 15, qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior, respectively, in 2019. That is the first time a brother and sister have played in those championships in the same year since Scottie and Callie Scheffler in 2012.

Preston had a golf club in his hand when he was barely old enough to walk. Learning the game became a way for him to spend more time with his father, as Boyd pursued a career in professional golf in the mid-to-late 2000s.

“I remember when I was just 3 or 4 years old, I’d go to the course with my dad and feed breadcrumbs to the ducks,” said Preston. “It was cool to always have golf around, but I fell in love with it on my own. It was never forced on me.”

Grace played seemingly every sport except golf when she was younger, including softball, tennis, basketball and swimming. After playing golf occasionally starting at age 10, she became more serious about the game two years later.

“The main reason I started playing was that Preston and my dad were always at the course,” said Grace. “I wanted to hang with them.”

The Summerhays family now resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., for most of the year, but spends summers in Utah, where many relatives still reside.

Last week, Preston won the Utah State Amateur at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway, Utah, the site of the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links. He made 14 birdies in the 36-hole championship match, including nine in a 13-hole stretch spanning the 10th to the 22nd to seize control and win his second consecutive title. Preston is the youngest player to successfully defend at the Utah State Amateur, and first to repeat since his uncle, Daniel, did so in 2001 and 2002.

Not to be outdone, Grace also played in the championship. She was the fourth woman to qualify for the Utah State Amateur and, playing from the same tees as the men, shot 74-72–146 to become just the second woman to advance to match play in the 121-year history of the event.

“It was pretty cool getting the chance to play against the guys,” said Grace, who lost in the first round of match play. “Then I was able to go from playing against Preston to supporting him. I walked every match with him and was so happy to see him win.”

After the trophy presentation, the entire family drove to the airport. Grace and their mother, Barbara, were off to Hawaii for a family reunion, while Preston and Boyd flew to Toledo, Ohio for the U.S. Junior Amateur. Despite some travel fatigue and just one practice round at Inverness, Preston shot 72-70–142 to earn the No. 11 seed in match play. He squares off against No. 54 seed Takafumi Shimoji of Japan at 1:40 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. Grace will head to Stevens Point, Wis., later this week for the U.S. Girls’ Junior, her first USGA championship appearance.

“These championships are the U.S. Opens for young golfers,” said Boyd, who played in four U.S. Junior Amateurs, from 1992 to 1995, advancing to the Round of 16 each year. “I loved how challenging it was when I played in Junior Am. It was so unique, I never wanted to miss it. Now, I’m excited Preston and Grace have the opportunity to play in them.”

Boyd has served as their swing coach since each started playing seriously, giving them advice on the technical aspects of the game, as well as help with their mental approach. He has drawn on the wealth of experience he gained as an elite amateur and a professional, both good and bad. He won more than 75 junior tournaments in Utah and played collegiate golf at Oklahoma State University, but his professional career was plagued by injuries.

“He’s been through it all,” said Preston. “He passes down what he’s learned and lets us get our own experiences.”

For Preston and Grace, most of those experiences in golf have happened together. The siblings have become virtually inseparable on the course. Grace practices and plays with Preston and his friends almost daily. She calls him her “role model in golf” and credits her recent success to the example he has set for her.

“Playing with him is a big reason why I’ve gotten a lot better,” said Grace. “I learn a lot and it pushes me to another level.”

Preston’s game has also taken a leap in the past 18 months, from a competitive junior player at the local level, to one of the best players in Utah and an elite junior on the national stage. In addition to his back-to-back Utah State Amateur victories, he qualified for the 2018 U.S. Amateur last summer, posting rounds of 65-60–125, the lowest 36-hole sectional score since 2011.

In 2019, he played in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship and posted top-10 finishes in the Ping Heather Farr Classic (T-7) and the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley (T-10).

“Preston plays with a lot of freedom and confidence,” said Boyd. “He has always had a great short game but added some power in the past year. It’s not just distance, but the ability to spin the ball more and have enough clubhead speed to get out of the rough better.”

As both Preston and Grace try to parlay their success in Utah to a breakthrough on the national stage, Boyd continues the balance of playing two roles: coach and father. On one hand, he is trying to create an environment where they can have fun and improve as golfers, while also enjoying the time he gets to spend with his children in their teenage years.

“I’m incredibly proud of them both,” said Boyd. “I get emotional thinking about it. I’ve told them about my experiences and what I’ve learned, but they have earned everything through their incredible work ethic and commitment. As a dad, there’s nothing like watching your kids succeed.”

Mike Trostel is the senior content producer for the USGA. Email him at mtrostel@usga.org.

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