Catching up with Robert Meyer, Sacramento junior golf phenom

Published: Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2X
Last Modified: Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 - 6:43 am

Eight-year-old Robert Meyer didn't like getting up early for swim practice at Arden Hills, so when his older brother suggested golf at Haggin Oaks, he jumped at the chance.

He shot a 108 for 18 holes at Haggin's Arcade Creek his first time out. Clearly a natural, it's little wonder he went on to become arguably the best player to ever come through the area's junior golf ranks.

His amateur accomplishments were impressive:

• Won the 12-year-old division at the World Juniors

• Was a three-time Sacramento high school Player of the Year at Jesuit

• Was a two-time Northern California Golf Association Player of the Year

• Won the California State Fair Championship

• Won the 1980 NCAA team title with BYU, where he was a two-time All-American and earned a degree in finance.

Mostly self-taught, he got up and down from everywhere, his blond hair dancing in the wind. He was a phenom.

Meyer turned pro in 1985. That year, he failed to qualify for the PGA Tour in the first of eight unsuccessful trips to the qualifying tournament. By then, he hit the ball a figurative mile – think Dustin Johnson before Dustin Johnson – before equipment allowed everyone to do so, but his putter didn't keep pace.

In 1990, Meyer won seven multiple-day events on the Golden State minitour.

He played on pro tours in Australia, Asia and Canada, where he won twice.

He qualified for a handful of PGA Tour events and played his way into the 1991 U.S. Open, where he missed the cut.

He quit competing professionally in 1998.

A year later, he started selling golf shafts and has been at it since. For the past three years, he has been vice president, marketing and tour relations, for Loomis Golf shafts, which among other things, produces shafts emblazoned with college logos. His brother, Jeffrey, is company president and design engineer.

Meyer hasn't lived in Sacramento since 1993 and only occasionally gets back to his hometown, but he still has family and friends here and caught up by phone:

How's your game?

It's not a competitive golf game anymore. I play maybe eight rounds a year.

What were your expectations when you turned pro?

I just wanted an opportunity to see how far my game would go on the PGA Tour, but I always struggled getting through second stage (of the qualifying tournament), so I never really had that opportunity.

Knowing what you know now, was that your ceiling or could you have accomplished more?

If I had it to do all over again, I think I would have been working with somebody harder on my short game from 100 yards in and my putting. I was inconsistent with my putter and I kind of lost confidence. I think if I had been working with somebody and had a different method or technique, and kind of honed that, I think my career would have gone a lot further. My ball-striking was definitely at tour level.

Any regrets as a player?

I got married when I was 30, right in the prime of my golf career. Unfortunately, the person that I chose wasn't really a golfer and didn't have an idea what it took to be a professional golfer. I didn't find that she was as supportive as I would have liked.

What was your high as a player?

Probably playing in the U.S. Open. Winning golf tournaments. When you're competitive, and you have a chance to win a golf tournament, any tournament that I won was a high, especially as a professional.

Your low?

Making the decision to go another direction was very hard for me. It felt like I was starting my whole life over again. I really didn't have a good idea what I wanted to do, because I had put all my energy into playing professional golf.

How often do you get back to Sacramento?

Not much. I miss it. I miss the people.

Meyer file

Born: Sacramento

Age: 50

Family: Divorced; engaged; no children

Lives: Hillsboro Beach, Fla.

Job: Vice president, marketing and tour relations, Loomis Golf

Call The Bee's Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.

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