Former CSU golfer’s game holds advantage over pros
By Eric Bonzar
According to the Public Broadcasting Service, at the age of three, children develop logical reasoning skills as they play. While playing, they are able to ignore distractions and focus on the tasks they are faced with.
They also put together simple puzzles and understand that a whole object can be separated into parts. They will even persevere in carrying out something that is a bit difficult and can think more creatively and methodically when solving problems.
It’s these cognitive skills, learned at such an early age that has propelled Jake Scott from avid golfer to Professional Golfers’ Association of America member hopeful.
As impressive a fact that Scott first gripped a club at three, at five, he surpassed many his age by competing in junior tournaments across the country.
“My dad was really good about trying to find things to get me involved in,” said Scott.
“He would take me down to Mississippi, Alabama and a couple smaller junior tournaments down there and got me really involved with that at that point. So I’ve been playing tournament golf my entire life.”
It was Scott’s curiosity for the sport–along with his father’s own avidness–that would bring out Scott’s competitive nature, creating a genuine love for the game.
“He took me to the driving range a couple of times when I was real young and I took an interest in it at that point. Luckily he was good enough to get me going at an early age and noticed I really liked doing it.”
At six, Scott continued to learn the game under the tutelage of Dave Moskal—a PGA professional who currently heads the Southwest Junior Golf Tour, which provides junior golfers an opportunity to compete in weekly tournaments against the very best junior golfers in northern Ohio.
“I owe a lot to a lot of the PGA guys who run the junior tours around this area, because a lot of them got stuff started that I was able to play in at that early of an age,” said Scott. “I don’t think I would be anywhere near where I am today if I hadn’t had the chance to play those kinds of events around Cleveland.”
Moskal said Scott’s raw talent at an early age was obvious the day the two met.
“I was teaching at the Strongsville driving range at the time. Jake shows up with his father and he starts hitting balls and I said, ‘holy cow,’” Moskal said.
“So I approached Mr. Scott and introduced myself and he goes, ‘would you like to give him a couple lessons?’ and I said I’m not sure what he’d be able to absorb, but I’d love to look at him.”
“Over the next couple of years we laid some foundation down with his grip and stance, but he was pretty much a natural from the get go, so there was really not much content as far as instruction to teach a six-year-old.”
“It’s truly an amazing story where he’s at right now.”
A year later, Scott would find a new mentor in Frank DiSanto.
Today, DiSanto serves as instructor at The Oaks Golf Facility in Columbia Station.
According to The Oaks, DiSanto has been teaching golf in the area for over 30 years. In 2000, Golf Digest selected him as a top instructor in the nation, and one of the top teaching professionals in Ohio.
In 2001, DiSanto was selected as one of the top 400 teachers in the United States.
As a young golfer, these were important people in Scott’s life. As a student majoring in business economics at Cleveland State University, Scott said learning the business side of the sport while in college was beneficial to him as well.
“Other than the playing golf side of it, I’ve also learned a lot about the business from guys like Nick Fox who’s the head PGA professional at Elyria Country Club and especially Rob Moss who’s the head PGA professional at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, he’s a guy who I’ve learned a lot from,” said Scott. “He took me under his wing while I was in college and showed me the business side of the sport.”
It would be approximately twenty years later–along with a host of collegiate accolades like being part of three Horizon League Championship teams, claiming medalist honors as a junior and senior and averaging a school-record low of 73.2 as a senior–when Scott’s hard work would come to fruition.
Former teammate and coach, Scott Weir said Scott’s grittiness is what makes him competitive.
“Jake is able to play well even when he doesn’t have his best stuff,” said Weir. “He walks the fine line of being confident without being cocky.”
Scott now competes in qualifiers for PGA major tournaments and is currently apprenticing to become a member of the PGA—etching his name in the history books alongside names like Jack William Nicklaus and Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.
Scott also works as an assistant golf professional at the Elyria Country Club, where he teaches others the game of golf.
Recently on May 9, Scott competed in–and won–a U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Beechmont Country Club by shooting a six-under-par 65 for the course.
The win moved Scott one step closer to playing in the U.S. Open, but Scott failed to make the cut at the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier in Columbus June 4.
Scott competed against 131 golfers vying for 16 spots into the U.S. Open.
He completed the grueling, 36-hole match play at the Scioto Country Club and The Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlet Course in Columbus, shooting a 9-over-par 150 tying for seventy-fifth place.
Scott said he will continue to compete in mini-qualifiers like the ones held for the U.S. Open, and will continue to focus his play on his short game–something Scott feels gives him a competitive edge over most pros when playing long courses like OSU Scarlet.
“It (long courses) makes it a whole lot tougher for a lot of tour guys because they’re used to hitting driver wedges into these par fours,” said Scott.
“On a long course like Scarlet, they have to hit shots they don’t normally hit, and that just takes them out of their comfort zone.” “I think the tougher the courses are the better chance I have.”
Scott said since he doesn’t drive the ball as far as most pros, he tries to outplay them through his short game.
“I know I’m not one of the longer hitters out there by any means, you just have to know your golf swing and where to hit it,” said Scott. “Let me put it this way, the best part of my game is my putting and my chipping, so I never try to overpower a golf course.” “I rely on my short game to get the ball around.”
Moskal said Scott’s long ball is just as good as his short game, and that’s why he’s tailor made to compete with the biggest names in the sport.
“He’s long enough, don’t let him tell you otherwise,” said Moskal.
“(But) he certainly does possess a short game, and everyone knows that’s where the scores go down. “ “That’s what’s made him truly a competitor over the past decade or so.”