Wednesday , July 30, 2014 - 9:45 PM
LAYTON — If there is anyone more excited than Layton’s own Dustin Volk to qualify to play in the PGA Championship — Aug. 4-10 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. — it’s his dad Wayne.
The now retired, longtime head professional at Hubbard Golf Course on Hill Air Force Base, Wayne Volk is downright giddy at the opportunity to be inside the ropes as Dustin’s caddie for the week.
“(Golf) is a great game and it’s just an honor for us to go and play against the greatest players in the world,” Wayne said shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head as if it’s all just a dream. “I am going to be carrying the bag and working on yardages, and if he wants me too maybe help read a few putts.”
It’s easy to understand why Wayne fights to control his emotions while talking about golf and his family and how the two have a special bond.
“I have fond memories about my dad (Lawrence) and how he brought me to the course and taught me about golf,” Wayne said.
Lawrence James Volk was a POW during World War II and served out his career in the Air Force. In 1964, Lawrence would be stationed to Hill Air Force Base, where he settled his family, including his son Wayne, who would quickly land a spot on the golf course maintenance crew at the base.
“I remember when we were (stationed) in Ankara, Turkey, and my dad would take me out on the golf course. I remember how he showed me specifically how to rake the oil-sand bunkers to perfection. He would say, ‘You must rake the bunkers in such a way that they are better for the people playing behind us.’ “ Wayne would say with a tear in his eye. “That was one of the things my dad left with me about the game of golf, and how we honor it. I’ve been in love with this game ever since.”
Not long after Wayne began working at the course at Hill, he would be appointed to the position of Golf Course Manager, a position he held for 12 years until he became a PGA Professional. Wayne would spend 40 years at Hill, helping turn what was a nine-hole course when he first stepped foot on the grass, into one of the most well-respected military courses in the U.S.
It was also at Hubbard Golf Course, that Dustin would learn to love the game. According to his family, when Dustin was a kid he would beg his father to allow him spend every spare moment at the course.
And now, after more than 40 years together on golf courses — or out together hunting in the winter — the father and son will get a week together inside the ropes on the biggest stage of golf.
Dustin punched his ticket to the PGA Championship, the Tour’s fourth major, following a fifth-place finish at the PGA Professionals National Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. at the end of June. Wayne was on Dustin’s bag for all four rounds that week.
“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t say I was nervous. He’s 68 years old,” Dustin said, wondering out loud about the potential heat and humidity in Louisville. “first and foremost I want him to be healthy.
“He did really well in Myrtle Beach,” Dustin said, “so I think he will do fine. If it’s too hot or the pressure is too much for him, we will see.
“Dad has been good to me. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t even be here,” Dustin said. “He and I are really close. We are always talking about fishing and hunting. Dad is really special to me.
“I have special memories about him always being there for me,” he said. “This is a perfect highlight, with him in his 60s and me in my 40s, this is just really special.”
“Our main goal, or at least my main goal, is that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity … let’s try to make it fun,” Wayne said as he spent a day last week with Dustin, the head professional at Valley View golf course in Layton, playing golf and preparing mentally for the tournament.
“The biggest advantage I can be is to help him feel comfortable,” Wayne said. “We are so close and we both love the game. If can help him stay within himself and not let him forget that golf is a game of misses; the best players in the world just miss it a little closer than the others. We are going to have our misses and we just need to play through that.”
As host for the 96th PGA Championship, Valhalla Golf Club is not without a history of hosting major events — including the 2008 Ryder Cup, the PGA Championship in 1996 and 2000 and the Senior PGA Championship in 204 and 2011.
But changes to the course await the players for this year’s tournament, including new greens on all 18 holes.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Wayne said about Valhalla and preparing for Dustin for a major championship. “This is a new deal for both of us. We’ve been online and looked at the course. It looks like it will be a real challenge.”
NOTE: This is the one in a series of articles to feature Valley View head golf professional Dustin Volk, who earned a spot in this year’s PGA Championship, one of the four ‘majors’ on the PGA Tour. The Standard-Examiner will follow Volk for the next week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., site of the tournament. Keep track of the coverage at www.standard.net and updates on Twitter at @BradyBingham, @standardex or @standardexsport, as well as on Facebook.
Sign up for e-mail news updates.