Jason Gore looks back 25 years on his victory in Hawaii
by William Godfrey
In a June 2022 telephone interview, Jason Gore, the 1997 Pacific Coast Amateur champion, recounted the memories from his victory at the Makena Golf Resort in Maui, Hawaii. Gore, a member of the 1997 Walker Cup team and winner of the 84 Lumber Classic on the PGA TOUR, is Managing Director, Player Relations for the USGA.
William Godfrey: What was the state of your game leading up to the 1997 Pacific Coast Amateur?
Jason Gore: Earlier that summer I won the California Amateur and California Open, so I was playing great. I had already received my invitation to play on the Walker Cup team. That event was scheduled a few days after the Pacific Coast Am. Looking back, I played that week in Hawaii almost prepping for the Walker Cup.
Godfrey: What was it about the Makena Golf Course in Maui that fit your game?
Gore: To be honest, every course fit my game back then. They all looked great to me. I had so much confidence back then it really didn’t make a difference where I played.
Godfrey: You represented the Southern California Golf Association in the Morse Cup Competition that included a half dozen three-man teams in the PCGA. Who were your teammates and what were the results?
Gore: My teammates were Mark Johnson and Craig Steinberg. We played a lot of golf together growing up in southern California. We knew each other well. Mark finished 5th and Craig finished in 13th place. I think we won the Morse Cup by 21 shots.
Godfrey: I understand you and your teammates donned special local print shirts for the awards ceremony. Please share that story.
Gore: We all went out to dinner one night at a local restaurant. I convinced my teammates we needed to have some team shirts. Just outside the restaurant was this rack of clothes. The red Hawaiian shirts were the ugliest shirts we could find on the rack and I think they were $3.99 each. At 23 years old, those were the kind of things you just did, the uglier…the better.
Godfrey: What do you remember about the tournament and your individual play?
Gore: It was windy and hot, but it didn’t bother me. I played great all four days. Going into the final round, I think I had a six-or-seven shot lead. At one point, in the last round, I had it up to 11 shots. I believe I bogeyed the last four holes and left the course really pissed, even though I won by seven shots. Fortunately, my teammates calmed me down before the awards ceremony.
Godfrey: You didn’t have much time to celebrate with the Walker Cup scheduled just a few days later. How did the travel work out?
Gore: We took the red-eye flight from Maui back to Los Angeles. My mom had been out there all week with me in Hawaii and we traveled there and back. I unpacked at home and she did the laundry. That same day I re-packed and headed to LAX for the trip to New York, Quaker Ridge Golf Club and the Walker Cup.
Godfrey: Looking back now 25 years later, any lasting memories?
Gore: The win at the Pacific Coast Amateur gave me additional confidence going into the Walker Cup. It was great to be with my teammates and a wonderful setting in Maui.
William Godfrey is an author, golf historian and biographer in Phoenix. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone, 602-750-1468.