In Their Own Words - Winning the Junior Championship
In preparation for the 100th playing of the W.Y. Dear Junior Championship, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to the championship, the NJSGA will celebrate its former champions, Essex County Country Club and preview the August 9-11 event.
Whether it’s a springboard to a collegiate or pro career or a confidence-building experience for a career away from the golf course, winning the NJSGA Junior is a significant moment for a young golfer. To commemorate the 100th Junior, we chatted with a number of champions from across the generations.
This article was featured in the 2021 Summer issue of the New Jersey Golf magazine.
1965, Braidburn C.C.; 1966, Montclair G.C.
"As an aspiring young competitor, I was able to prove something to myself. I validated that success was a direct result of dedication, effort and preparation. Through golf, I developed character which remained a leading influence on my entire life. I am proud of being a two-time Junior Champion. Subsequently, winning the Amateur and Open Championships accredited my election into the NJSGA Hall of Fame."
Ziobro was inducted into the NJSGA Hall of Fame in 2019 and was a longtime PGA professional in New Jersey and New England. He remains the only person to win the NJSGA Amateur and Open Championships in the same year.
1967, Knoll C.C.
"Winning the “State Junior” was a Big Deal for me, and it was my third state championship in five weeks. I had previously won the State Public Links Junior, and the State Caddie Tournament during that span. Those wins helped me obtain a scholarship to North Texas State University where I had hoped it would prepare me
to complete my dream of playing successfully on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, I had to get a new dream and that dream eventually took me on a journey from laying paralyzed in a hospital bed in Morristown Memorial Hospital to my induction into The World Golf Hall of Fame in 2019.
An interesting side note to my three state championships is that I caddied for Johnny Pott in the 1967 US Open at Baltusrol. He gave me three dozen Spalding Dots which I used to win all three championships. Too bad he didn't give me more!"
Walters was inducted into the NJSGA Hall of Fame in 2019. He is best known for his “Dennis Walters Golf Show” (a trick shot exhibition) and has won the prestigious Bob Jones Award. Walters was also inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2019.
1975, Essex Fells C.C.
"In 1975, I was a junior in high school playing out of Bowling Green Golf Club in Oak Ridge. I was an unknown in the golf world, played with a baseball grip, and honestly, the NJ Junior might have been the first tournament I ever entered outside of the high school sports circuit. I qualified for match play not thinking I had a chance, knowing I was playing against a lot of notables on the Junior circuit. I won my first match on the 21st hole and played fearless golf the rest of the way, and eventually defeated the current MGA Junior Champion in the finals. I had a great caddie, Thom Bishop, who currently is the Director of Golf at Bowling Green, and both of us had an amazing week together! That night I “celebrated” by having an appendicitis attack, and had emergency surgery. I woke the next day to my parents in my hospital room holding a page from the Paterson Daily News that read “Oak Ridge’s Snouffer wins State Junior.” It was one of the best weeks of my life."
Snouffer is currently a managing partner of eight car dealerships in the North Jersey area. He remains an active participant in state and regional championships.
Mike Burke, Jr.
1973, Morris County G.C.; 1974, Fort Monmouth C.C.
"The thing I remember most about my first Junior win was that I didn't drive yet and had to be driven by a friend to the event, every day, from the Jersey Shore to Morris County Golf Club. I also beat Guy Thompson who, at the time, was a "known" junior from Morris County and it was considered a big upset. And, I made about a 60 footer across the 17th green to win the final. Unfortunately, after the win, we pulled out of the club and had left the trophy on top of the car. The scratches are still there!
Win #2 in 1974 came close to home (Fort Monmouth) and because of that, my family was able to see me win. My parents rarely went to events, so as NOT to add pressure – but they “snuck around” for this one. Again, I made a putt on #17 to close out the final match.
As a kid, I didn't concentrate on golf very much (I traveled to Canada and elsewhere to play ice hockey during the summers) but winning these two tournaments created some "notoriety" for me and increased my interest in competing. They helped me toward my best N.J. Amateur finish (3rd), and the State High School Championship. My “surge” helped me obtain golf scholarship offers, and I attended Miami of Ohio. The Junior Championships were my first taste of winning, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to continue winning throughout my career.”
Burke is currently the Director of Golf at Montammy Golf Club in Alpine. He is a member of the N.J. PGA Section Hall of Fame and is a three-time winner of the N.J. PGA Section Championship. Burke also won the 1998 PGA Professional Championship (then known as the PGA Club Professional Championship).
2005, Rockaway River C.C.
Back story: In the 2005 NJSGA Junior, Hoffmann defeated Gene Yang of Glenwood Country Club in the final, 8-and-7, after beating Mike Corbo of Rockaway River CC in the semifinal, 4-and-3.
"Winning the NJSGA Junior was truly the starting point of my golf career. I think at the time, winning anything was the goal for me. Mike and I were friends, and it was a really fun match, and Gene was just coming off a big win, so he was the guy to beat. Winning the final match at such a margin was proof to me that I wasn’t scared of going low and not looking back, and I felt very accomplished when I emerged on top. 2005 was a big year for me. I made it to my first U.S. Amateur, which was held at Merion."
Hoffmann was a regular on the PGA Tour between 2013-19 and was once ranked as the No. 1 amateur golfer in the world. Today, he continues to battle Muscular Dystrophy – not only for himself, but also through the Morgan Hoffmann Foundation, which has raised more than $3 million to help find a cure for the disease. For his efforts, he was awarded the PGA TOUR Courage Award in 2020.
2013, Raritan Valley C.C.
"It means a lot to be the only family with two brothers who won the Junior Championship, and we’re hoping that Reed (the youngest Greyserman brother) will be the third! When I’m home, we play together all the time - we’re a very close family and my brothers are always giving advice.
For me, winning the State Junior gave me the confidence to win the State Open and State Amateur. It all starts at the junior level, and it helped me win those events as an amateur and now, to have success at the pro level.”
2019, Morris County G.C.
“Just like Max, it was a big honor to win, knowing how great the history of junior golf is in New Jersey. After Max won his (championship) in 2013, it became a goal of mine to have my name on the trophy along with his. It means so much to me to have won the trophy with such a storied list of other champions, and to have done it after my brother is an honor. It’s the biggest junior championship in the state, and it was a huge win for both of us. Now, when I’m away at school or travel to play in tournaments, it means even more to come back home knowing our names are on the same trophy.”
Max and Dean Greyserman are the only two brothers to win the NJSGA Junior Championship. Today, Max is playing a full schedule of Korn Ferry Tour events and aspires to compete on the PGA TOUR. Dean continues his successful junior golf career, and is on track to graduate high school in 2022. He has verbally committed to Stanford University.