The new ‘Champ’ at Woodcreek Golf Club
Teeing off from the back tees on the 12th hole at Woodcreek Golf Club, long-hitting Cameron Champ launched a high-arching drive that landed on the fringe and took a couple bounces toward the hole – then disappeared.
As he excitedly rode in his cart on this mid-July day and approached the 312-yard hole, there was no sign of the ball. So like most golfers, Champ figured it had run past the forward-playing red pin, through the green, and settled somewhere in the rough.
However, that wasn’t the case this time.
“I grabbed my lob wedge and putter, walked to the green and glanced at the hole and there it was. I let out a yell and they (his three playing partners) all went crazy,” recalls Champ, who now has three aces in his career.
Although that was clearly the highlight of the round, there was more excitement to come. When Champ birdied No. 13 and 14, he moved to 8-under par. Recognizing the course record could be in jeopardy, his father – Jeff Champ – got on his phone and found out that Steve Brodie had shot a 64 from the back tees in 1996.
So the quest was on to establish a new record. Unfazed by the pressure, the younger Champ birdied the par-5 16th to go 9-under and produced pars on the final two holes to card his record-setting 63. Former Woodcreek pro Jimmy Stewart shot a 63 from the middle tees in 2001, but officially the course record now belongs to the 21-year-old Champ.
Champ’s round included six birdies, no bogeys, the hole-in-one, and a sensational back-9 score of 30. His double-eagle albatross is quite the rarity. In fact, the odds of an ace are 13,000 to 1, while an albatross is estimated at 1 million to 1.
Among his playing partners at Woodcreek was former Sacramento Kings guard and Granite Bay resident Bobby Jackson, a family friend of the Champs. He rode in the cart with Cameron and realized after the hole-in-one that he would be digging in his wallet after the round because the 10 strokes he was getting in a friendly bet would not be enough.
“That hole-in-one was truly amazing,” acknowledged Jackson, who says he’s a single-digit golfer. “We thought his drive flew the hole. When Cameron found his ball in the hole, I thought, ‘holy cow!’ I had never seen a shot like that before. And he did it with a 3-wood. That’s incredible!”
That’s right, the Foothill Farms (North Highlands) resident didn’t even use his driver, a club he regularly hits 300-plus yards.
“I’ve watched Cameron play before, and without a doubt, he hits it as long as any (PGA) tour player,” Woodcreek head pro Rob Frederick pointed out.
Although he rarely plays Woodcreek and currently calls Whitney Oaks Golf Club in Rocklin his home course, Champ retains some wonderful memories of the Roseville municipal course. He played one of his first big tournaments there at age 10 and three years ago at the Roseville City Amateur Golf Championship, he shot a 5-under par 139 at Woodcreek to win by four strokes.
Champ’s achievements have criss-crossed the country for years. As a teen he was ranked as high as sixth among national junior boys by GolfWeek. That potential caught the attention of Sean Foley, Champ’s swing coach the past four years. Foley is one of the world’s most recognized PGA golf instructors and several years ago was coaching a golfer by the name of Tiger Woods.
Back problems have slowed Champ’s career at Texas A&M. He suffered a back injury early in his freshmen year that limited his play throughout the season. The back issue returned again last fall, but he recovered well enough to play in 11 tournaments, registering five top-10 finishes and had the Aggies’ top scoring average (72.82). The stellar play earned Champ a berth in the NCAA championships.
Champ wants to continue playing well at Texas A&M and like many successful collegiate players, he possesses PGA aspirations. Jackson says he keeps in touch with Champ regularly through text messages and sees a different player emerging.
“He was hitting the ball a country mile when he was in high school, so he’s always had the talent,” Jackson explained. “But watching him now, I’m amazed at how much he’s grown and matured as a golfer. His game is evolving and he’s really putting in the practice time and doing the little things that could help get him to the pro level. He’s focused and dedicated to golf.”
Jeffrey Weidel is a freelance writer who lives in Rocklin. Visit his website at www.tahoeskiworld.com.