Valley Hi head golf pro Mike Northern stepped off of one of the greens at his course, with a smile on his face.
“Not a bad day at the office,” Northern said.
With a perfect view of Pikes Peak and the sun shining, few could disagree.
Northern was taking a break from his duties at the course to play a round with some friends, something he hasn’t had much time to do recently.
Northern shot a 69 on June 29, the final day of PGA National Professional Championship at the Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pa., to finish tied for 12th and qualify for the 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga., this weekend.
“This is my third PGA Championship,” Northern said. “The first one was actually 10 years ago, at Atlanta Athletic club, so I’m kind of looking at it like it’s a 10 year reunion for me.”
The other time Northern qualified for the PGA Championship was in 2004 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.
Northern hopes to take his experience in past tournaments and use it to make his weekend successful.
“(In 2004) I actually played real well, I just had a couple of holes that cost me playing the weekend,” he said. “Obviously that’s my goal right now, to play all four days.”
He missed the cut in 2001 shooting a +13 and again in 2004, finishing at +11.
With Tiger Woods coming back, and the other big names that will be participating in the PGA, Northern thinks that playing with some of the bigger names will help his game.
“I’m hoping I get to play with a touring professional because I can learn from them, just to see their game, and what they do,” Northern said.
Northern has been the PGA Pro at Valley Hi for 21 years. He was born in Kansas, but considers himself a local, because he moved the Springs when he was 2 years old. He graduated from Palmer High School, and played golf at Western State in Gunnison.
His son Austin recently traded his hockey gear for a golf bag, which made Northern happy.
“It’s given him and I a lot of quality time together,” Northern said. “Him and I will be able to play golf together, compete together. I think it would be real fun to play in some father-son tournaments.”
Despite the fact that Valley Hi is city owned, Northern said he enjoys it much more than being at a private course.
“We’re real busy, we stay busy year round,” he said. “I can’t imagine being at a slower club. I guess I’m just used to it, because that’s the way it’s been.”
With so much time invested in Colorado’s golfing culture, Northern has seen ups and downs. Even in the slumping economy, he sees hope for the future.
“Hopefully we’re kind of staying level,” Northern said. “Hopefully we’re going to start climbing out of the recession we’ve been in, and hopefully people have more money to spend toward (golf), so hopefully we’re going in the right direction.”
Northern also thinks, as far as local golf is concerned, events like the U.S. Women’s Open help bring recognition to the area, and help bring people to Colorado to play golf, which can only help.
Northern, 48, would like to continue as Valley Hi’s pro as long as he can.
“I’d like to do this the rest of my life,” he said. “To retire, I don’t know what I would do. I’m kind of used to having some to do, and running my own business has been a pleasure. Obviously I have to thank the city of Colorado Springs for letting me run one of their public golf courses. It’s something I love to do, and I don’t see my self doing any thing different.”