Justin Shluker commits to Sonoma State
It would be difficult to find a golfer with a better high school résumé than Justin Shluker.
The Park City senior was a part of four 3A state championship teams and won state medalist honors his junior and senior seasons.
Now he’ll see if he can keep his winning streak going at Sonoma State, where he’ll play for the Division II powerhouse Seawolves.
He said he chose to sign with Sonoma State, which has won the Division II golf championship as recently as 2009 and wins the California Collegiate Athletic Association title more often than not, because he liked the way the program was organized under head coach Val Verhunce.
"The coach did a lot for me," he said. "He seems to have a really structured program and that’s what I was looking for."
He added that the city of Rohnert Park, Calif., helped make his decision easier.
"I’d like to be away from home," he said. "The (Rohnert Park) area is in wine country, so it’s beautiful. It’s like Park City, just a lot warmer."
He’ll look to contribute right away for his new team, citing big aspirations for his first year on campus.
"I hope to be a part of the travel team as well as hopefully making a run at our conference championship and a national championship," he said.
Jake Hanley, the head PGA golf professional at the Jeremy Golf and Country Club, said he expects Shluker to achieve great success at the college level.
"More than anything, his work ethic is his number one attribute," he said. "The time that he puts in is definitely his strong suit."
Hanley, who has worked with Shluker on his swing and has known him since he was 10 years old, added that Shluker has never been fazed by tough competition, even at a young age.
"Justin was playing golf at age 11 with grown men," he said. "He grew up on the golf course. We’d go play in pro-junior tournaments at Wasatch State Park when he was 12 or 13 and you could tell this kid had it."
Shluker will need that work ethic and calmness under pressure to continue through college if he wants to achieve his academic and athletic goals. He’s going to study business at Sonoma State and will minor in either marketing or accounting as well. In addition to his studies, he’ll try to work his way onto the PGA tour. He’d like to qualify for the U.S. Open as an amateur this April.
"Hopefully the hard work will get me there," he said of his PGA aspirations. "But I’ll have the business degree to fall back on."
Though he’s excited to start the next phase of his golf career, Shluker said he’ll never forget the memories he made on his high school golf team.
"It was a ride," he said. "It’s kind of surreal, but at the same time, we’ve worked really hard to do this. Being with the team and everything, we’ve really bonded. That’s what counts in the end."
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