It’s the one phone call that Aaron Beverly wishes he could have made.
It’s the one conversation that he wishes he could have had with the one person who was beside him every step of the way – through junior golf, high school and college golf, and now as a professional.
Beverly wanted to express and convey all of the excitement, joy, and jubilation that he experienced with his win at the APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Fall Series Finale at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles on Tuesday, November 9.
He wanted to share all of those feelings and emotions with the person who introduced him to golf and was his coach – his dad, Ron Beverly, who passed away on Sept. 21, 2019, at Kaiser Medical Center in Vacaville due to an illness. He was 72.
“It was just a great sense of relief, more than anything, because you’re always practicing and working toward trying to compete to win,” Aaron Beverly said. “Sometimes it just feels like you get so close and yet you’re still so far away. I think, for me, the bigger kind of emotional response was not being able to call my dad and just tell him that, ‘Hey I won a tournament.’ ”
Ron Beverly was a longtime football coach in Solano County, leading the program at Vanden High School in Fairfield as head coach and then later the program at Solano Community College in Fairfield as head coach.
Beverly’s 1984 Vanden team went 12-0 and won Superior California Athletic League and CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Class A championships.
He was inducted into the Solano Community College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 after winning five Bay Valley Conference titles and directing the Falcons to six postseason bowl games. He has the most wins of any coach in Solano’s history in football. He was selected as the State Coach of the Year in 1999 and was a five-time Bay Valley Conference Coach of the Year.
“He always had really great pre-game speeches,” Aaron Beverly said in a story in the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County, on October 9, 2019, at napavalleyregister.com. “He always did his homework. He studied the other team. He knew the best game plan to win.
“He instilled confidence in his players. He loved winning. And he really hated losing.
“One thing that I was always amazed by him was he was able to just bring out the best in everybody. Whether it was a little kid that he was giving lessons to or when he was teaching body conditioning classes at Solano, people that maybe never worked out before or that were trying to lose weight or gain muscle or anything, he always got the best out of everybody. It was the same way with his football teams.”
Ron Beverly was also a pretty good golf coach who knew the game and the swing. He also knew how to work with Aaron, the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year for Sacramento State his junior and senior seasons.
“He’s the one that was always there at practice and was always supportive,” said Aaron, 27.
“You can see how not being able to make that phone call. And it will be that way for the rest of my life, no matter what it is – whether I get married or have a kid or any type of celebration.”
Winning by a three-stroke margin
Aaron Beverly, an assistant coach for the Sacramento State men’s golf team and an assistant golf professional at Valley Hi Country Club in Elk Grove, won the two-day, 36-hole Advocates Professional Golf Association event by a three-stroke margin over Ryan Alford and Landon Lyons.
Beverly fired rounds of 68 and 70 for a 4-under-par 138 total and earned $10,000. It was his first win on the APGA Tour, which was founded in 2010 “with the mission to bring greater diversity to the game of golf by hosting and operating professional golf tournaments, player development programs, mentoring programs, and introducing the game to inner-city young people,” according to the PGA Tour’s website, www.pgatour.com.
“The tour has grown from seven events with $200,000 in prize money in 2020 to 14 events with over $400,000 in prize money this year,” according to www.pgatour.com.
Beverly, a 2017 Sacramento State graduate who had an outstanding collegiate career for the Hornets, was the opening-round leader after making four birdies and only one bogey.
He had three birdies on the front nine of the final round.
“Winning has put me in a good mindset, with a lot of confidence,” he said. “I’m hoping that it leads to bigger and better things and more opportunities, to play against good players. The dream is playing on (PGA) Tour. The dream is alive and well – still chasing it.”
Beverly has placed in three other APGA Tour events:
- Tied for fifth, TPC Scottsdale-Champions, Scottsdale, Arizona, April 19-20: 71-68 – 139. Earned $1,050.
- Tied for 20th, TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Illinois, July 19-20: 78-70 – 148.
- Tied for third, TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Georgia, August 9-10: 66-71 – 137.
It was his first win since capturing a Golden State Tour event in 2020 in La Quinta, Calif.
“I had an overwhelming calmness out here this week,” Beverly said in a report at www.pgatour.com. “I really don’t know why. It was great playing back in California. I was comfortable.”
He added: “This tour has a different feel to it. It’s great to be out here with everyone talking to one another. Also, a great opportunity to test myself against quality players.” According to its website, www.apgatour.org, “the APGA Tour is a nonprofit organization with the mission to prepare African Americans and other minority golfers to compete and win at the highest level of professional golf, both on tour and in the golf industry. This will be accomplished through professional tournaments, career development, and mentoring sessions.”
The APGA’s mission is “to bring greater diversity to the game of golf. The APGA Tour Board of Directors works to accomplish this by hosting and operating professional golf tournaments, player development programs, mentoring programs, and by introducing the game to inner-city young people,” the Tour’s website points out.
In an effort to grow the game, the APGA Tour “has partnered with inner-city youth organizations to introduce both boys and girls to the game. APGA also sponsors Diversity Symposiums where leaders of the minority golf community gather to discuss ways to best diversify the sport,” according to www.apgatour.org.
The APGA Tour offers the Charlie Sifford Player Development Program.
“To develop the next generation of minority college and professional golfers, the APGA Tour Sifford Development Program provides free clinics, mentors, equipment, and complimentary entries fees to young golfers,” the tour’s website points out.
Beverly was on-point with his short game at Wilshire.
He saved par with a 12-foot putt after hitting his tee shot in the bunker on his first hole of the tournament.
He made an eight-footer for birdie on the next hole.
He made a par-saving putt from 15 feet on his third hole.
“At that point, I’m like: OK, if my putting’s good, I’m going to be tough to beat,” said Beverly. “I was just trying to give myself as many pitching wedges and 9-irons into holes because I knew if I could keep the ball in play, then I was going to be fine. I’ll make birdie putts here and there and just eliminate big scores.”
He recounted the speech that he gave following his win.
“It’s just nice, for myself, to be playing in tournaments, where there are numerous people that look like me and understand just how different it is always being kind of the one African American person in golf tournaments. So it’s really great to just be comfortable being yourself at tournaments, where there are other people that look just like you and appreciate the same things that you appreciate.”
Golf, golf, golf
Aaron Beverly is all about golf – competing as a mini-tour player, working as an assistant coach at Sacramento State, and as an assistant professional at Valley Hi Country Club, where he gives lessons and practices and plays.
“I have a chance to teach, give back, and build relationships with people,” he said.
He started out in golf at the age of 6 when his dad took him to the Joe Mortara Golf Course, a former nine-hole layout at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo.
“We’d go every Saturday morning and we’d play nine holes,” Aaron Beverly, a 2012 graduate of Armijo High School in Fairfield, said in a story in the Napa Valley Register. “He always wanted to make sure that I worked hard. If things didn’t go well, he always told me that the sun still shines tomorrow. It was the same way with his students.”
Beverly tied for 25th at the Napa Open, a Golden State Tour event, Nov. 15-17 at Silverado Resort and Spa. He shot 77-67-78 – 222. He used to work in the golf department at Silverado.
This fall, Sacramento State has placed:
- Fifth at the Ram Masters Invitational at Fort Collins Country Club in September in Colorado.
- Second at the Nick Watney Invitational in September at San Joaquin Country Club in Fresno.
- Tenth at the Oregon State Invitational in October at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, Oregon.
- Tied for sixth at the Visit Stockton Invitational in October at Stockton Country Club.
- Eighth at the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate in October at Ka’anapali in Lahaina, Maui Hawaii.
Beverly’s college accolades include:
- Selected to the PING Division I All-West Region Team by the Golf Coaches Association of America.
- Winning three titles.
- Two-time All-Big Sky first-team selection.
- Four-time Big Sky All-Academic selection.
- Chosen to Sacramento State’s All-Decade Team (2010-2020).
- Compiled 10 top-three finishes during his collegiate career, according to www.hornetsports.com.
He graduated from Sacramento State, receiving a degree in psychology.
He has played on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada.
Battling COVID-19 pandemic
Aaron Beverly said he lost 17 pounds in six days due to having the COVID-19 pandemic late last spring.
He said his symptoms started with a headache and also feeling a little light-headed.
“Pretty much every symptom you’ve heard about I had,” said Beverly. “I just started to feel kind of sick. My health just got progressively worse and worse. I couldn’t breathe hardly and couldn’t eat anything.”
He was in contact with his mom, LaVerne Beverly.
Fortunately, he was able to recover and get better through rest.
“All I could pretty much do is rest. And I’ll be honest, it took probably 8 to 10 weeks afterward for me to feel back to 100 percent again. I would work out in the morning. Workouts are normally an hour and a half long. I could only do about 30 to 40 minutes, just because of shortness of breath and just felt really weak the whole time,” Beverly said.
He missed two weeks of work and also was not able to play in two APGA Tour events due to being sick.
It was a very slow process of recovering and getting back to playing again.
“That was the longest break I’ve taken from golf and swinging a club in a long, long time. A one- to two-day break is normally what I allow myself, not two to three weeks. But I will say it gave me a greater appreciation of just being able to play and the things you take for granted until you can’t do them anymore.”
* 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