Bill Loeffler earned one of 35 berths for PGA club professionals after finishing tied for 20th in the 2009 Senior PGA Professional National Championship. (The PGA of America)
Colorado PGA Professional Loeffler gets major wish granted
Colorado native Bill Loeffler had reached many of his professional goals -- PGA Professional, co-owner of a golf club in his home state and accomplished player. The 53-year-old's next goal will be realized when he tees it up in a major championship in his home state.
By Bob Denney, The PGA of America
PGA Professional Bill Loeffler grew up in Castle Rock, Colo., went to high school with Mike Reid and since 1998 has co-owned Highlands Ranch Golf Club, a course whose architect was Hale Irwin.
Rubbing shoulders with those Senior PGA Champions and spending one's career in Colorado golf left one missing link to Loeffler's résumé: playing in a major championship in his home state.
Next week, Loeffler's major dream will be fulfilled, as he joins a 156-player world-class field in the 71st Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club.
"I'm very excited that I'm finally getting to play in a major championship in Colorado," said Loeffler, 53, who is making his third overall appearance in the Senior PGA Championship. "I'm getting to play a great golf course and be part of a great field."
The 71st Senior PGA Championship also features defending Senior PGA Champion Michael Allen and 10 past Champions, including Reid and Irwin. Loeffler earned one of 35 berths for PGA club professionals after finishing tied for 20th in the 2009 Senior PGA Professional National Championship, which he also won in 2007.
The Senior PGA Championship, the most historic and prestigious event in senior golf, will bring together 24 major champions who have won 48 overall major titles and players from 14 countries. There are seven players who are Colorado residents: Tour professionals Craig Stadler, Evergreen; Dale Douglass and Gary Hallberg, Castle Rock and Mark Wiebe, Denver; and PGA club professionals -- Loeffler; Ron Vlosich, Lakewood; and Mike Zaremba, Pueblo West.
The former Champions include Reid, who won the 2005 Championship, and who spent one year (1970) at Cherry Creek High School in Englewood, during which time Loeffler was a freshman and aspiring varsity team member. Reid helped the Bruins to a state golf team championship. Cherry Creek's golf success didn't end there.
"I played on two state title teams the next three years," said Loeffler, who won the 1973 state individual title his senior year. "We had a pretty good run. Mike and I didn't play together, as he moved with his family to Utah after his one year."
Loeffler went on to attend Arizona State University, won the 1986 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, was a member of the 1987 U.S. Walker Cup Team, and turned professional in 1989. He won the 1992 PGA Assistant Professional Championship, and was elected to PGA of America membership in 1994.
In 1992, Loeffler purchased The Links at Highlands Ranch, and in 1998, a second course on the property, Highlands Ranch Golf Club, was built by Irwin.
Loeffler and his wife, Sandy, became majority owners and today are joined on the ownership team by veteran Champions Tour member Dale Douglass.
As PGA general manager of Highlands Ranch Golf Club, Loeffler has managed to find time to work on his game.
"I've played well in spurts," said Loeffler, who is a three-time Colorado Open champion. "I'm a little stale now, but hope to be ready for next week. We are going to be playing the course in what I feel is going to be good May weather and I believe the professionals who have not been here before will love it.
"As far as altitude adjustment for the game, I've lived here my whole life. I think that they are such good professionals that they can adjust to it easily. The challenge may be just walking in the thin air."
The 71st Senior PGA Championship also is the third major championship in senior golf to be conducted in Colorado, following the 1993 U.S. Senior Open at Cherry Hills and the 2008 U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor.
Begun in 1937, the Senior PGA Championship is the oldest major championship in senior golf. It was born on the grounds of another of golf's majors at the invitation of one of the game's greatest players. At the suggestion of renowned amateur Bobby Jones, the inaugural Senior PGA Championship was conducted at Augusta National Golf Club three years after the first Masters Tournament.
Today, the Senior PGA Championship brings together both the legends of the game and the newest members of senior professional golf to new audiences throughout the United States.
Many of the game's greatest players have won the Championship's Alfred S. Bourne Trophy -- a roster that features Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Tom Watson and Jay Haas.
To purchase tickets to the Senior PGA Championship, click here or call the Championship Office at (720) 259-8500.
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