Short shorts died out, not their love for golf

March 1, 2011 

In this online, linked-up, social networked world, it's easier to look back at a moment in time when life was simpler and golf shorts were short shorts.

The photo that launched the search was sent by Tom Cade of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association, who read the story in this space last week about Scott Geroux.

The shot captures four teenagers – Mark Wurtz, Radd Lukas, Rick Fehr and Geroux – with gold medals around their necks, fresh from winning the Junior America’s Cup golf championship at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

The year was 1980, and the uniform sweaters and white shorts of the Washington team are very much of the period.

Since then, their costumes and home bases have changed, but none of the four champions of that day, including two from Olympia, has strayed far from golf.

 • Radd Lukas was the reigning state Class AAA (now 4A) high school champion from Capital High when he played on the state of Washington team in Hawaii.

According to an online history of the Washington Junior Golf Association, Lukas had to withdraw from the second round of the three-round Junior America’s Cup with a broken carpal bone in his wrist. But because only the best three scores are used in each round, the Washington team was able to play on.

On the third day, Lukas played, he said, with the help of cups full of ice applied to his wrist. When he got to the 18th green, alongside a player from the Arizona team, Washington’s closest rival for the team championship, he was informed by his teammates he needed a birdie for the team to win.

“He missed about a 30-footer,” Lukas said this week, “and I made about a 15-footer.”

Lukas went on to play golf at USC and later at Washington, where he earned his dentistry degree in 1990. He was a national long-drive finalist in 1989 and 1990.

After dental school, Lukas moved to Florida and played professional mini-tours before moving to Seattle in 1991 to practice dentistry. He later started his own dental practice in Tucson, Ariz., and sold it in 2009. He’s now a professor in the College of Dental Medicine at Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., where he recently moved after 12 years in Tucson.

Since he started teaching, Lukas has played tournament golf only sparingly. His golf résumé in Arizona, however, is solid. He won the club championship at Tucson National four times, and he was on the winning Arizona Golf Association team in the Southwest Team Challenge in 2009.

 • Rick Fehr and Lukas were teammates that week in Hawaii, but they were also rivals in big tournaments around the region. When Lukas won the state high school championship in 1980 (at Olympia Golf and Country Club, after a move from Longview Country Club, unplayable after the eruption of Mount St. Helens), the runner-up was Fehr, of Nathan Hale High.

Fehr shot a 69 on that final day at the Junior America’s Cup, and went on to be one of the most successful playing professionals to emerge from Washington.

Fehr won the Washington State Junior championship in 1979, one year before Geroux claimed the same crown. Also in 1979, Fehr won the PGA National Junior Championship in Pine Mountain, Ga., after edging Lukas in a local qualifier.

Fehr was a two-time All-American at Brigham Young University. He was the low amateur at both the Masters and U.S. Open in 1984, and turned pro later that year.

Fehr won two PGA Tour events: the 1986 B.C. Open and the 1994 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic. He finished runner-up in a PGA Tour event (second or tied for second) nine times, and had 41 top-10 finishes.

Fehr now works as a sports agent for professional golfers with Fehr Sports Management in Phoenix. His clients include Loren Roberts, who won the Champions Tour Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge in 2009.

 • Mark Wurtz was announced last week as the new head PGA professional at Discovery Bay Golf Club in Port Townsend, which represents a return to his golf roots on the Olympic Peninsula

Wurtz was just 14 when he played on the Junior America’s Cup team, according to the WJGA history. He built his game at the Port Ludlow Golf Club under the tutelage of his father, Ted.

Wurtz, who played golf at New Mexico State, joined the Canadian Tour in 1990, and won the Canadian Tour Championship in 1992. He then played continuously for the next 14 years on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour.

In recent years, Wurtz has devoted his golf life to teaching. He’s become a proponent of E.A. Tischler’s New Horizons Golf approach (www.newhorizonsgolf.com) and is featured in several swing videos illustrating its concepts. He’s lately been teaching in the Palm Springs area at Bighorn Country Club and Plantation Golf Club.

 • Geroux’s 1980 performance on the Washington foursome was his second consecutive year to play in the Junior America’s Cup. In 1979, he teamed with Mark Visintainer of Spokane, Todd Erwin of Tacoma, and Kirk Triplett of Pullman for a third-place finish at Capilano Golf Club in Vancouver, B.C.

Geroux, as written last week, is a golf instructor these days in Las Vegas. The facts and figures for this follow-up story come courtesy, mainly, of Google, Facebook, Wikipedia and www.wjga.net.

Life might have been simpler in 1980 … but research is way simpler in 2011.

Olympia freelance writer Bart Potter can be reached at greygoatee06@comcast.net

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