Johnny Miller, Billy Casper reflected in the new generation of junior golf

It was a special moment at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway when the great-grandson and great-grandson of two Hall of Fame players, Johnny Miller and Billy Casper, posed for a photo after a 10-year-old’s golf tournament.

There were Nicholas Miller, son of BYU golf manager Todd Miller and grandson of the legendary Johnny Miller, Lincoln Casper, son of Dixie Stitt and UV golfer Ashton Casper, who is the son of Bobby Casper, who is the son of the late Billy Casper.

You may remember Lincoln’s famous grandfather, Billy Casper and Niklaus’ famous grandfather, Johnny Miller.

Still one of America’s most successful Ryder Cup players, Billy Casper is a man credited with ending Arnold Palmer’s competitive career when he beat Palmer in extra holes at the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in 1966.

Johnny Miller, recently retired as one of golf’s most entertaining, albeit rude commentators, set the course record of 63 in the final round of the 1973 US Open in Oakmont, considered one of the toughest golf courses in the world. the world.

Miller was one of the best ironclad players in the world in the early 1970s when he dominated the desert courses in Arizona and California following the All-America career at BYU of the late Karl Tucker. He won 25 times on the PGA Tour.

Casper was a deadly bat who took up the match while in the Navy in San Diego. He’s won 51 times on the PGA Tour and has additional European Cups.

Both Johnny and Bailey are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame located in St. Augustine, Florida. Both are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Casper passed away in 2015.

Every day after school, Shannon Miller drops her son Niklaus on a golf course in Provo, where he hits balls to pick them up to go home to dinner and homework.

Nicklaus has won six consecutive Utah state golf championships for 10-year-olds on a local tour in Salt Lake City, and along with Holladay’s Jake Neff, the two are Utah Junior Golf’s top rookies heading into their first UJGA event this weekend, Jay Don Blake Jr. at Bloomington Country Club in St. George.

With courses set at 80- to 150-yard 3-second, 200- to 350-yard, 4-cutter, and 5-hole grades from 350 to 450 yards, Miller’s nine-hole grades include Glenmore’s 33; 37 at The Barn Golf Club; 35 in Oquirrh Hills; 36 in the River Oaks; 35 in Soldier Hollow; And 35 in the Thanksgiving Tour Championship point.

“Niklaus has a lot of brilliance from his dad Johnny,” said Todd Miller. “He really enjoys the pressures of competition. I like that he is not fond of winning trophies but of playing his best golf.

“He’s very straight and long off the tee and he can take all his shots around the greens.”

Ashton the father of Lincoln is a player with a disability, and his grandfather Bobby (son of Billy Casper) is ground zero.

Linkon Casper gets a laying lesson from PGA Tour legend Johnny Miller.

“Lincoln loves to play baseball and play on a mobile team,” said Bobby Casper. “He just played his first competitive golf tournament at Soldier Hollow. The day before, I played with him at Hobble Creek and he was annoyed with his shots. I said, ‘Boy, today doesn’t matter.’” You just want to start to sort of feel like hitting the ball. He went up to the soldier and was a par 6 after three holes. He finished off a flying bird and fired an 8 on par, the first birdie he ever made. He was great and he’s only 10 years old. “

Ashton, Lincoln’s father, said Lincoln has played in the Junior Thanksgiving Point League for the past three years, but the American kids’ golf event at Soldier Hollow was his first singles championship.

“He was happy with the way he finished with a little birdie but was disappointed to finish fifth,” Ashton said.

His father said, Lincoln is obsessed with golf. He has a close relationship with his late grandfather Billy and his room is decorated with Billy Casper memorabilia.

“He’s a very talented baseball player and his golf game catches up fast. He hits the ball really hard, but he has great touch and feels when he needs it,” the father said.

“If you ask him, golf is his favorite sport and his goal is to play on the PGA Tour and win a Masters one day like his great-grandfather. I can’t remember a tour in the last few years where we headed to fairway after shooting our tee and he didn’t say , “Golf is just the best!”

In 2019, she took Ashton Linkton to San Diego for the Billy Casper Charity Tournament. Linkton was three years old when his grandfather died.

Getting to know these little kids in Utah reminds me of the days Tony Finau and his brother Gibber used to be at tournaments when they were about the same age. In scramble tournaments, they would show blows to the combos that came. Later, we saw them start playing and dominating.

It also reminds me of the time Johnny Miller spoke to the media at Thanksgiving Point before an event, and told me how his father took him under his wing and started playing the game. He said that as a father, he would take his kids in a cart on the playground and let them hit the balls in the lake – just to promote the fun of hitting the ball.

Miller also stated how important it is for parents to give their children affirmation, positive feedback, and encouragement. He referred to the late Earl Woods and how he gave Tiger Woods a plan and kept assuring him that one day he would be the best player in the world.

“We can make a difference in how we encourage our children in everything they do,” Miller said that day.

It will be interesting to see how young golfers, with the wonderful DNA of legendary PGA Tour veterans, progress through time.

That’s what it’s all about: seeing stories flourish and careers taking off, connecting them to fun times that may seem insignificant but are really moments we shouldn’t take for granted.