Mike Schultz has been the PGA head professional at Hazeltine National since 1976. He was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame in June.
Section’s executive director before retiring from that post in 1990. Today, his nephew and Bill’s son, Craig, is one of the elite PGA teaching professionals in the state.
In 1976, Waryan decided he wanted to split time between Minnesota and a course he owned in Arizona. He left Hazeltine National, became the PGA head professional at Oak Ridge Country Club in nearby Hopkins and was able to spend his winters in Arizona.
Hazeltine National offered Waryan’s job to Bob Olds, the PGA head professional at nearby Minnetonka Country Club. Olds turned it down, paving the way for Schultz, Olds’ 27-year-old assistant at the time.
“It was time for me to do something else,” Waryan recalls. “They needed a new (PGA) head professional and they got it right with Mike.”
Schultz was born in Pittsburgh and lived there for about a year. His father, a geologist, moved to Houston, where Mike’s love of golf took off.
When Schultz was in eighth grade, his father was transferred to Columbine, Colo. The family joined Columbine Country Club, where Olds worked as a PGA Professional. Olds got to know young Mike as the eager kid who never left the golf course.
The Schultzes moved back to Houston when Mike was a sophomore in high school. Mike went on to play golf at South Texas Junior College, then attended and graduated from the University of Texas. During summer breaks, he would travel back to Columbine and work odd jobs for Olds.
“When I got out of college, I tried to play tournament golf, but realized I wouldn’t be a championship-caliber player,” Schultz recalls. “I was recently married and we wanted to get out on our own. I figured I’d
try being a club professional for a couple of years. When the chance came to go to Minnesota, I thought maybe I’d try it for a few years and see what happens.”
By then, Olds was back in his home state of Minnesota, running Minnetonka Country Club. He hired Schultz as an assistant. After two years there, Schultz left and became an assistant at Minneapolis Golf Club. He had never been a PGA head professional when the Hazeltine job was offered.
“I was fortunate that I got the opportunity at the right time,” says Schultz, who was inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame earlier this year. “It was the mid-1970s. I don’t want to say Hazeltine was struggling, but it was a club that looked like it would take a few years to really get rolling. At the time, we had a small membership and we were quite a ways out of town.”
The club also was still feeling the sting of being heavily criticized for its course design during the 1970 U.S. Open. Jack Nicklaus was one of several players who complained about numerous blind shots. But it was Dave Hill, who finished second to Tony Jacklin, who delivered the biggest blow. When asked what the course lacked, Hill said, “ 80 acres of corn and a few cows. They ruined a good farm when they built this course.”
Hazeltine National Golf Club became motivated by the backlash. Course designer Robert Trent Jones and his son, Rees, overhauled the course, particularly the 16th and 17th holes. It wouldn’t be long before the club would get a second chance.
“We went through some renovations and got the 1983 U.S. Senior Open,” Schultz explains. “That was a success and not long after that we got the 1991 U.S. Open, and that was a big success. The membership grew, the city grew out this way and things have been very good since then.”
Of course, Hazeltine National isn’t a club that accepts the status quo. After this year’s PGA Championship, the club will build a new clubhouse and redo its greens and fairways over the next two years. Five years after that, it will play host to the 2016 Ryder Cup.
“Our mission statement will remain the same long after I’m gone,” says Schultz, 61. “I would imagine after the Ryder Cup, we’ll be looking at a PGA Championship or a U.S. Open in the 2020, 21, 22 range.” ●
Mark Craig is the golf writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.