Scott Adams used to live and die with every golf shot, unable to relax and enjoy the game. As a result, golf was more of a grinding job than a fun sport to play. All that has changed recently, and it’s no coincidence the 39-year-old Adams is playing the best golf of his life.
Adams, who is the PGA Head Golf Pro at San Juan Oaks, is currently No. 2 in the Northern California PGA Player of the Year standings after shooting an even-par 72 at Richmond Country Club on Feb. 6. The series championship is based off of eight events, and if Adams can finish in the top 10, he will have earned the prestigious honor of making the NorCal traveling team.
The NorCal traveling team plays against the Southern California squad in a Ryder Cup format later this year.
“My ultimate goal has always been to make the top 10 to get on the travel team,” he said. “It would be a nice accolade to have.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Adams finished in a tie for fourth at Richmond Country Club, the second of eight events of the NCPGA Pro Series. Adams’ single-best performance came when he shot a 68 in Livermore a couple of years ago. Two years ago, Adams finished 11th in the series standings, an excruciating end to an otherwise solid season.
“I missed it (the 10th position) by five to 10 points,” he said. “I had one more event to play and didn’t play real well. After the second round, I did the math and knew I wouldn’t be getting that 10th spot. I was definitely not a happy camper when I realized I didn’t produce the scores to bump me up, but it was also motivation to get me a little more focused and plan my schedule a little better.”
Adams’ result in Richmond highlighted his improved mental approach. Years ago, Adams grinded to the point he actually tried too hard. So when it came to his pre-match preparation, Adams simply looked at the layout of the course online and didn’t worry about anything else.
“Sometimes it’s better to take the ignorance is bliss approach,” he said. “Sometimes if you know the course well and where the trouble spots are, you might stress out and overthink the shot and not execute it properly. Because I had never golfed the course before, I just committed to my shots and executed.”
Adams got married last year, and his wife, Carly, is pregnant and expecting in July. Once Adams saw a future where it involved raising children, he knew it was time to make one last push to achieve his golf potential.
“I’ve always had the ability to play pretty well, but never put the time into it for an extensive period for a variety of reasons,” he said. “I got married last year, and so this was kind of my last hurrah. Once I have a kid, I’m out (of the game from a competitive standpoint). I’ll have different responsibilities, so I figured I would tap into this talent and see what happens.”
Adams has rich athletic bloodlines. His dad, Steve, was the vice president of the PGA of America and played on scholarship at Oregon State University. Adams’ mom was a ranked amateur and his aunt has been a nationally ranked player in her age group.
In other words, the Adams’ family love affair with golf runs deep. Even though Adams grew up around the game, he preferred playing baseball instead.
“Growing up I thought I’d be a pro baseball player,” he said.
Adams’ late grandfather, Steve Barath, actually was a roommate of Joe DiMaggio when they played for the San Francisco Seals. Barath enjoyed a 13-year pro career, the majority of it at the Double-A level. Barath also built the Valley Garden Golf Course in Scotts Valley.
Adams didn’t start loving golf until he was 19 or 20. Perhaps it was growing up around the game and being around it everyday. Or perhaps it was the expectations some might have put on him to follow in his family’s footsteps. Whatever it was, Adams never truly developed a love for the game until later in life.
A Monterey resident, Adams grew up in Redding. Upon graduating from high school, Adams spent the next six years in the Air Force, finishing his service at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. Wanting to finish his Associate of Arts degree, Adams attended Cabrillo College, where he played two years of golf after having played sparingly for the previous two years.
“Playing at Cabrillo kind of cranked up my focus level to see if I could make one last run at it,” he said.
Adams’ time at Cabrillo ignited a chain of events that has him to his current point in life. While attending Cabrillo, Adams worked at a golf shop in Aptos. One of his co-workers got a job at Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz. Upon her advice, Adams applied for a job there and got it, eventually working his way up to an assistant pro position.
“I was so very thankful for that,” he said.
From that point on, Adams got connected with influential people in the industry. After working at Pasatiempo, Adams earned jobs at San Jose Country Club and Corde Valle in San Martin before hooking up with San Juan Oaks six years ago. Ascending to a head pro at a golf club takes years of hard work along with a break or two.
“From Pasatiempo I got connected to good people who helped me with my career,” he said. “The trend kept going upward in terms of multiple job opportunities, and I received guidance along the way.”
As a head pro, part of Adams’ job is working in the shop and assisting customers with everything from their swing to equipment. His personality goes right in line with the job.
“For the most part, I’m a pretty happy go-lucky guy,” he said. “I enjoy doing it, and very rarely would you ever see me not smile or not be bubbly.”
Months shy of his 40th birthday, Adams has never been in a better place in terms of who he is and what he finds important in life. In the last three years, he’s made a commitment to practice and play tournaments, and the results speak for themselves.
Now in the twilight of his career, Adams is playing better than ever.
“I want to make one last run at this before I become a senior,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in the game from such a young age. It’s been quite a journey.”