It was two years ago when Mike Woods, the PGA Director of Golf at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, started giving some serious thought to increasing his playing schedule in PGA-Northern California Section events. Over the years, he has always played in one or two events during each season. Now, as he was turning 50 in July of 2020, Woods was looking to spend more time on his game – practicing, playing, competing.
“It was 2020 when I was really thinking about it. And then this COVID thing hit and all the events were canceled,” Woods recalled. “And so, we were kind of all living in that limbo land. It was really the following spring, in February, March of 2021, where I really said, ‘OK, let’s get into this. Let’s do this. I clearly have the time and I enjoy it.”
Woods, a partner with Morton Golf Management who played college golf at Sacramento State from 1987-1991, said he started putting a lot of time and energy into playing again in early 2021.
“I wouldn’t trade for the world, just the fantastic experiences and time that I spent with my kids, coaching different sports. They’re both musicians. So being part of their music career and doing all the family stuff, raising our kids, it’s just one of the real joys in life,” said Woods.
“But you know, all of a sudden, they leave. My son has graduated college and is working full-time and my daughter is a junior in college and living with friends. And so, you know, we need hobbies again. I really enjoyed playing golf and I really enjoy competing. And I just hadn’t done it, other than maybe one or two events a year, for 20 years. And so, I thought to myself, I’m going to see if I enjoy practicing again and really working on my game and playing in these events. And it turned out, I really do enjoy practicing and working on my game, and I really enjoy competing. It’s something that I get excited for. It’s something I really look forward to. I also like to play in all the regular section events.”
Woods, a PGA member and Partner, Morton Golf and PGA Director of Golf of Haggin Oaks and Vice President- Morton Golf Foundation, can definitely play. He will be honored as the PGA Northern California Section Senior Player of the Year at the 2022 NCPGA Presidents Dinner on Sunday, Dec. 4 at Green Valley Country Club in Fairfield. A no-host cocktail reception starts at 5 p.m., and is followed by the President’s Dinner at 6 p.m., and the special awards ceremony at 7 p.m.
Woods played in 11 events and won two titles, compiling 536.25 points, to rank No. 1 in the senior division during the 2022 season. He won by a 22.41-point margin over Dave Carr. Players age 50 are eligible to play in the senior division of NCPGA events.
“It feels good when you put a lot of energy into something and get results,” said Woods. “For me, I do have a busy work schedule. And so, I just have to schedule my time properly, scheduling my calendar, when I’m going to practice and when I’m going to put time into things. And when I do that, it doesn’t have to be long. What have I found is that my body really can’t take any kind of long practice. I’m not a kid. But if I just put it in the neighborhood of an hour a day, and I’m really focused on practicing the right things, then I get results.”
Woods said his coach, Tom Morton, a PGA member, the Vice President of Player Development, PGA Director of Player Performance for Morton Golf, and President- Morton Golf Foundation, has helped him with understanding his golf swing and getting the most that he can out of practice sessions.
“It’s about frequency as opposed to large quantity. And I find with almost every day practicing, in the neighborhood of an hour or so, I’ve really improved a bunch and I feel more and more comfortable in the tournament settings out on the course,” Woods said.
“I still get nervous, like everybody else, but I feel far more equipped to perform in different scenarios. If I’m putting that time in and I’m practicing the right things, it’s nice to get some results. Winning and losing and all that, it is what it is. I just really enjoy improvement and I really enjoy getting better. I really enjoy when I’ve been working hard on my game or parts of my game, and then I see those come to fruition in a tournament setting. That’s the part I really enjoy.”
Woods did very, very well during the 2022 season.
- He won the 2022 NCPGA Senior/Super Senior Pro Pro #4 and tied for first at the 2022 Senior/Super Senior Pro Pro #3.
- He tied for second at the 2022 NCPGA Senior/Super Senior Pro – Pro # 5 and also tied for second at the 2022 NCPGA Senior PGA Professional Championship.
- Woods finished third at the 2022 Senior Nor Cal Open-Senior and Super Senior Points – Senior Division Points, and tied for sixth at the Senior / Super Senior Pro Pro 8.
- He was a semifinalist at the 2022 NCPGA Senior Match Play.
The new season starts with the 2023 Senior / Super Senior PRO PRO 1 on Monday, Dec. 12 at the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course at Haggin Oaks. “The seniors are just fantastic players. Some of these players in Northern California … their resumes are unbelievable. And so, I learn a lot from them and how they do it,” said Woods. I’ve been fortunate to remain fit and still athletic and can compete. I find when I really work on my game, that it’s amazing how good things happen. I was mentioning to somebody the other day, I hit it farther than I did in college right now. The ball and the golf club, the driver in particular, just the technology is unbelievable. I definitely hit it a little bit farther than I hit it in college. I’m just stronger mentally. I’m just much better at following my routine and really playing within myself and having a strategy than I did when I was in my 20s. I think those things have kind of lent themselves to having some success.”
Woods has been successful, playing the game and being a leader in the golf industry.
According to the Morton Golf Management LLC website, www.mortongolfmanagement.com: “Mike has become an expert in golf course operations, including tournament operations, pro shop operations, range operations, retailing, club repair, club fitting, golf instruction.”
Over the years, Woods has been honored with awards, including:
- 2008: PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year.
- 2007: NCPGA Merchandiser of the Year.
- 2004: NCPGA Horton Smith Award.
- He played in the 34th Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by Cadillac, Oct. 11-16, at Twin Warriors Golf Club and Santa Ana Golf Club, in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. It’s a PGA of America event.
About Haggin Oaks
Haggin Oaks has two courses – the Alister MacKenzie Golf Course and Arcade Creek Golf Course.
Haggin Oaks also has a driving range, Haggin Oaks Academy Holes, MacKenzie Putting Course, Super Shop, Player Performance Studio, Haggin Oaks Shoe Store, and Club Performance & Repair Center.
“I feel so fortunate to be here and doing what I love, because it is so dynamic and diverse every day. There never is any downtime. It keeps me going,” said Woods.
A look at the Woods family
Woods and his wife, Leslie, have two children: a son, Sean, and a daughter, Leah.
Sean graduated from New Mexico State. He was in the PGA Golf Management Program.
He now works as an assistant golf professional at Meadow Club, in Fairfax (Marin County).
Leah is a junior and is in the music department at Sac State.
Additional NCPGA awards
The NCPGA will present 18 awards at its Presidents Dinner.
The Northern California Section of the PGA consists of over 400 facilities in Northern California and Northwestern Nevada, according to ncpgalinks.com. It’s one of the 41 Sections of the PGA of America.
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.