Wyman an ace in New England
Even though a quarter-century has passed, Zack Wyman vividly remembers how one conversation from his senior year at Douglas High School put him on a road that led to his current role as general manager and director of golf at the Vermont National Country Club in South Burlington, Vt.
Wyman had experienced success in golf at Douglas, including two trips to the state tournament, yet he only began to give serious thought about his future one day during a classroom conversation with the school’s head custodian, Bob Pepperdene.
“We were talking, this was probably February, and he said, ‘You graduate in four months, what are you going to do?’” Wyman recalled. “He told me he had a friend who was going to a golf management school in Palm Springs and I said, ‘You mean there’s such a thing?’ I looked it up, I had an aunt living in Palm Springs at the time, so I knew I would have a place to stay for a while … and the rest is history.”
Wyman would return home to Carson Valley in 1993 and serve as assistant pro at what was then the new Genoa Lakes Golf Course, then move on to Southern California before golf took him cross-country to Vermont and to what is now an 18-year stay at the Vermont National Country Club.
And in March, Wyman was honored as New England PGA Golf Professional of the Year Award, the highest honor paid by the PGA’s New England Section to one of its professionals. The award is based on “overall performance as a golf professional at their facility, level of service at their facility, level of service to their section and to the association, leadership ability, as well as image and ability to inspire fellow professionals and promotion of golf,” according to the New England PGA website.
“That was pretty cool,” Wyman said. “The PGA has 41 sections and 28,000 PGA professionals, and only one official is elected every year.”
Wyman is also listed among the notable alumni on Douglas High’s Wikipedia page. Among the listed achievements are his 2009 Vermont PGA Stroke Play championship, 2010 PGA Profession National Championship qualifier and 2010 Vermont PGA Professional of the year.
Oh, and since this is homecoming week coming up at Douglas, he shares the distinction of being part of the Class of 1991 with Major League Baseball draftee and future San Francisco Giants star pitcher Shawn Estes. Wyman even remembers when the two played in Little League all-stars together in Battle Mountain — he played second base and Estes was a pitcher.
“We used to get in trouble together … when we were in school and after,” Wyman said, laughing. “I was best man at his first wedding and he was best man for mine.”
At that point, Wyman paused before he added: “You know, I haven’t been home since our 10-year reunion. That was 2001. I want to go back and take my girls and wife skiing. The highest peak here is 4,300 feet. I tell them, ‘I grew up at 4,600 feet, and the mountains go up from there.”
Wyman views life in New England as not all together different than what he grew up with in Carson Valley.
“It’s 3,500 miles away, but the people here are similar,” he said. “The mountains and Lake Champlain are right here — it’s absolutely gorgeous, especially this time of year — and you have outdoorsy people who enjoy all the same recreation activities.”
It doesn’t seem all that long ago when the 6-foot-2 Wyman closed out his senior year at Douglas by shooting an 84 at what was then the new Dayton Valley Golf Course. In the process, he helped the Tigers finish fifth as a team in their first-ever state 3A tournament appearance.
And, just one summer before in July 1990, Wyman had an opportunity to work an inaugural event now known as the American Celebrity Championship at Edgewood Tahoe — as a caddy for his childhood sports idol, Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.
Wyman remembers a phone call in Las Vegas from a friend who urged him to move to Vermont. “It was a whim,” he said.
Did he envision how the future would play out?
“You never know who influences you or how you get to certain places in life,” Wyman said. “I was an OK student, but I pretty much went to high school to play sports. Now here I am married and with twin 9-year-old daughters and working at a job I absolutely love. There’s no way can I imagine it turning out any better than that.”