Jim Estes is famous for founding the Salute Military Golf Association. Less well known is how special of a player he is, too.
By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer
SEASIDE, Calif. -- Almost everyone in golf knows Jim Estes as the PGA Professional who founded the Salute Military Golf Association, the club professional who has done a yeoman's job of supporting the armed forces via golf. His efforts have been nationally recognized and lauded by countless organizations. But what people sometimes forget, amid all the altruistic endeavors he is involved in, is that the guy can flat-out golf, too.
No one was forgetting that on Monday as Estes fired an even-par 72 on the difficult Bayonet Course and is tied for fourth place heading into the final two rounds.
"I played great on front nine, and on the back, I got away with some shots," Estes said after his round. "I didn't finish great (a bogey on his final hole), but then again, I feel like I stole one on 17. From 60 feet, I hit a putt that just hangs on the lip. I walk, I look, I walk, I then turn away -- and it drops. The bogeys, I had four of them today, those are going to happen. You're going to make bogeys on this course."
But Estes also stated that he felt like the difficulty of the layout played into his favor.
"I really like hard golf courses," the director of instruction at Olney Golf Park in Olney, Md, stated. "I think this Bayonet Course suits my game. But that said, it wasn’t all that bad out there. Sure the wind was blowing a little in the afternoon, but it wasn’t anything too difficult."
The record shows that many courses seem to suit Estes. He is playing in his seventh PGA Professional National Championship, making the cut in five of his previous six attempts.
"I've played on PGA Tour. I've won a Nationwide event. But I've never really contended in this," he stated. "I've been in enough of these, I have no excuses. I want to win this championship. Of course, you want to make the cut, get into the PGA Championship – those are important. But I want to be in position to win this."
Estes’ fate will play out over the next two days, but regardless of how he finishes, his place in golf is secure and lofty. His playing record is impressive, but his contribution to the game and to the nation's military is unparalleled.