John Schumacher’s career in newspapers began at a very early age in life – years before he went away to college, to San Diego State to study journalism.
It began right at home, when he and his sister, Denise Johnston, put out The Neighborhood Gazette, a newspaper that was distributed to those residents on Sterling Drive in East Oakland. Schumacher, who was just 9 years old and attending St. Paschal Baylon at the time, already showed an interest in becoming a sports writer, as he wrote about pickup football games in the area.
“That was way back in the day,” Schumacher recalled.
Schumacher stayed in the field, writing for his high school newspaper at Del Campo-Fair Oaks, the Roar, as sports editor and editor; as well as his community college newspaper at American River College-Sacramento, the Beaver, as sports editor and editor; and as sports editor for The Daily Aztec at San Diego State, where he was selected by the Society of Professional Journalists as the outstanding journalism graduate.
Schumacher also got experience at a big daily newspaper, working part-time at the Sacramento Union, for a year when he was attending American River, and also when he was home from San Diego State one summer.
He has worked as a sports writer for the Las Vegas Sun, from 1981-84; Reno Gazette-Journal, from 1984-88; Milwaukee Journal, from 1988-1992; and The Sacramento Bee, from 1992-2011.
A common thread to each of those stops was his coverage of golf – a game that he took up at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex when his family moved to Sacramento when he was a freshman in high school. Over the years, he has covered the Masters and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, as well as the Longs Drugs Challenge, an LPGA Tour event, at Twelve Bridges Club in Lincoln, and the Gold Rush Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event, at Rancho Murieta Country Club in Sacramento County and Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills.
He has also covered college and high school golf. Some of the top area prep players that Schumacher covered include Nick Watney and Spencer Levin.
“I always really enjoyed telling people’s stories,” Schumacher said in a telephone interview in mid-March. “I always really enjoyed trying to get inside people’s heads and what made them tick.
“I’m a firm believer in golf really is a microcosm for life – you can tell a lot about a person by playing 18 holes of golf with them. And golf tests you. Anybody who has ever played knows, some days everything is going right, some days everything is going wrong, some days everything is going wrong for a couple of holes. And if you hang in there, things will get better.
“It’s just a great character test, just the game itself, because you have to be patient, you have to stay in the moment, you have to have a positive attitude. A lot of things that would serve you well in life are what you need to do during 18 holes of golf.”
Schumacher will be honored for his outstanding work as a golf writer, when he is inducted into The First Tee of Greater Sacramento Golf Hall of Fame this year. The Hall of Fame, which was founded in 2000, “recognizes those individuals that had an everlasting impact on the landscape of golf in and around Sacramento. Tour players, club professionals, great amateur players and volunteers make up this unique list,” according to The First Tee of Greater Sacramento Golf Hall of Fame website, sacramentogolfhalloffame.com.
The newest Hall of Fame class also includes Tom Morton, the Loustalot family (Ed, Gary, Vic and Tim Loustalot), Janie Bucher and Lynne Cowan.
Schumacher was notified of his selection to the Hall of Fame – which recognizes those individuals who shaped the game of golf in Sacramento, according to sacramentogolfhalloffame.com/- – by Frank LaRosa, a Northern California TV and radio host and member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association who has been honored by the Northern California Section of the PGA over the years.
“When I found out, I was really surprised and really honored and humbled. It was like, ‘Wow’ – it just took a while to sink in for me,” said Schumacher, who makes his home in Folsom, with his wife, Lisa, and their son, Noah, 14.
“Needless to say, it was great news – something that I never expected. Again, I’m just very honored that people remember me and thought highly enough of me to even consider me. It means a great deal to me. I loved covering golf. I love being part of the golf community.
“I’ve always felt like it’s just a great golf community. They say the weather lends itself to golf. There’s some great courses here and some really good public courses that are affordable. Just happy to be a part of it and thrilled that people thought I contributed enough to be considered for something like this.”
Schumacher will join a Hall of Fame that is loaded with superstars and legends, including Ken Morton, Sr., Al Geiberger, Tom LoPresti, Kevin Sutherland, David Sutherland, Bob Eastwood, Scott McCarron, Natalie Gulbis, Bob Lunn, Bob E. Smith, Dick Lotz, Alice Miller and Pat McGowan, just to name a few.
“It was just a joy to be a part of the Sacramento golf community,” said Schumacher. “I was covering golf at the time when so many of those sort of high-end public courses were coming onto the market (in the Sacramento area), just a lot of new product coming onto the market. Having the opportunity to just get to know the Sutherland brothers (Kevin and David), Scott McCarron – that was enjoyable.
“It was great to get to know, not only all the people who worked in the golf community … but to get to know the people who played, to talk to the consumer, to try and have that perspective in there as well. Just meeting people I played with was a joy. I loved to meet people and hear them talk about their experiences.”
One of the greatest experiences of all for Schumacher was getting to cover the Masters. On top of that, his name was once picked in a media lottery, allowing him to play Augusta National Golf Club, the day after the tournament.
“It was obviously a great thrill,” said Schumacher, who used rental clubs. “I had to pay $50 for the caddie and that was it. I won’t tell you what I shot, because I hadn’t played in seven months.
“When you’re playing the golf course, you can walk across the bridges – that was probably the coolest thing for me. That was just a very memorable day for me.
“It was a great experience. It’s really unique, because you’re stepping back in time in a lot of ways. I remember walking around the grounds and the pimento cheese sandwiches are like $1.50. It was just like walking back into the 1950s.”
Schumacher covered high school sports, UNLV basketball and helped out with golf coverage at the Las Vegas Sun.
He covered University of Nevada basketball and golf during his years at the Reno Gazette-Journal. He handled coverage of Marquette University basketball and golf for the Milwaukee Journal.
Schumacher had a number of different assignments during his years with The Sacramento Bee, as he covered not only golf, but also the San Francisco 49ers, Sacramento Kings, the NBA, track and field, college basketball, California International Marathon, Amgen Tour of California, and Western States Endurance Run.
“You name it, I think I’ve probably pretty much covered it with The Bee,” he said. “We had a real great lineup of different writers who were very skilled.”
He also covered the NCAA Final Four during his career.
Schumacher graduated from Del Campo in 1975 and earned his AA degree from American River in 1978. He graduated from San Diego State with a degree in journalism in 1980.
He spent a lot of time at Haggin Oaks, playing its two courses, during his high school years. Schumacher said his dad, Charles Schumacher, would drop him off at Haggin Oaks on the way to work, and he would spend part of the day there, playing 27 holes of golf, over one summer.
“By the time I got my 27 holes in, my dad was heading home from work and he’d pick me up. That was fun,” said Schumacher. “I remember those days. I’d go out by myself and as a single got to meet some great people. I always enjoyed meeting different people and sharing stories, just listening to people tell stories. It was a great way to learn about different things.”
Schumacher also played at Ancil Hoffman Golf Course in Carmichael.
Schumacher helped introduce his nephew, Dylan Rumbaugh, to golf by getting him into a junior program put on by The First Tee of Greater Sacramento. Rumbaugh went on to play for the team at Casa Roble High School-Orangevale.
“I was just happy to be able to help him learn how to play,” said Schumacher, who has also played golf with his son at Foothill Golf Center, a par-27, 1,203-yard course, in Sacramento. The course is managed by the Champ family, including Cameron Champ, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour. Foothill Golf Center is also the home of the Cameron Champ Foundation.
“I don’t play very often any more, but I’m trying to accelerate that, and pick that back up,” said Schumacher.
Schumacher left The Bee in 2011. He got his master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of San Francisco and works as a behavioral health program coordinator for El Dorado County.
Schumacher is also a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. For more information, go to sacramentogolfhalloffame.com.
Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019 after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame in September of 2019.