Success follows new Ritz-Carlton golf pro - The Explorer: Sports

Success follows new Ritz-Carlton golf pro

Jeff McCormick charms local courses and sports franchises

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Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:03 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Arizona’s sporting universe hooked a rabbit’s foot during May, when the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain named Jeff McCormick head golf professional.

Each time the rising 32-year-old Oklahoma native heads up a new course, it seems a local team wins their respective championship.  

The trend started in 2000 during McCormick’s first gig as assistant pro at the Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Mo., when the St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida Marlins and Miami Heat since benefited from their proximity to McCormick’s work.

Then, ten months after McCormick opened the Cottonwood Hills Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kansas in 2007, the Jayhawks’ hoops team rode March Madness to victory.

“This might be the year to lay down cash on some Arizona teams,” McCormick smiled. “I just can’t tell you which one it will be.”

Clairvoyance aside, McCormick’s return to desert golf is a happy one, after his first taste, as Scottsdale’s Camelback Golf Club tournament coordinator from 2001 to 2003.  

The experience will come in handy while hiring golf staffers and prepping Marana’s new Jack Nicklaus Signature course for the 2009 World Golf Championships — Accenture Match Play Tournament in February.

Though it’s rare anyone calls pre-tournament 55-hour workweeks a “lull,” McCormick’s used to long hours on the links, raised on a course in Duncan, Okla., where his high school golf team won their state title.

“We would go out there and play sun up to sun down, and come back with blisters on our ears and noses,” McCormick said.

These days, he’s likely to break out the sunscreen while training his crew for the January opening of the 850-acre resort — Ritz-Carlton’s largest development in the continental United States.

McCormick says perks like the resort’s “caddy concierge service,” which assigns a personal golf assistant to each playing guest, will set a new standard for Southern Arizona’s golf scene.

Already, the nine non-tournament “Wild Burro” holes are open, and much of the course’s remainder is seeded and enjoying the sun. The 250-room hotel won’t open until October 2009, however, eight months after the fan-friendly course hosts its marquee tournament.

“We all have our fingers crossed, hoping Tiger will get healthy in time to make it back for the event,” McCormick said.

One thing McCormick, or anyone else at the moment, can’t predict is whether the course’s namesake, Nicklaus, will surface for the golf showcase’s inaugural rounds.

“We’d certainly like to have him show for the ribbon cutting,” McCormick said.

Until then, local Golden Bear sightings remain the stuff of legend, along with a Phoenix Coyotes Stanley Cup victory — unless McCormick’s mojo can help pull it off.

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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HS Schedule

Thursday, September 11

Girls Golf

Marana,  Ironwood Ridge at Nighthawk Invitational

Swimming (4:00)

Marana at Cienega (Clements Center)

Buena at Mountain View (Marana Pool)

Pusch Ridge/Sahuaro at Ironwood Ridge (Oro Valley Aquatic Center)

Salpointe/St. Augustine at Catalina Footholls (@5 p.m. Hillenbrand Aquatic Center)

Girls Volleyball (Freshman @4, JV @5 and Varsity @6 unless otherwise noted)

Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

Scottsdale Christian at Pusch Ridge (JV and Varsity only)

Freshman Football (6 p.m.)

Cienega at Catalina Foothills

CDO at Ironwood Ridge

Poston Butte at Marana

JV Football (6 p.m.)

Catalina Foothills at Cienega

Mountain View at Poston Butte

Ironwood Ridge at CDO

Friday, September 12

Girls Volleyball (All Day)

Marana, Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells Invitational

Girls Golf

Marana,  Ironwood Ridge at Nighthawk Invitational

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO at Cactus Cup Invitational at Arizona National

Cross Country 5 p.m.

CDO, Ironwood Ridge, Marana and Mountain View at Desert Solstice XC Invite

Football (7 p.m.)

Cienega at Catalina Foothills

Canyon Del Oro at Ironwood Ridge

Poston Butte at Marana (Military Night)

Mountain View at Mesquite

Scottsdale Christian at Pusch Ridge

Saturday, September 13

Girls Volleyball (All Day)

Marana, Catalina Foothills at Flowing Wells Invitational

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO at Cactus Cup Invitational at Arizona National

Cross Country

Pusch Ridge hosts Twin Trees Invitationa

Catalina Foothills at Ray Wherley Invitational in Prescott, AZ

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