It’s not official yet, but Nick Zimmerman of North Little Rock and Bill Wrentz of Cabot appear to have secured Arkansas State Golf Association Player of the Year awards for their respective age divisions.
Zimmerman, 26, led the amateur division with 570 points, just 45 more than Wes McNulty of White Hall.
Wrentz, 67, sailed to a second title in the super-senior (64+) division with 1,095 points at press time. Joe Bushee of Hot Springs Village was second with 660.
“This weekend was the last tournament for us to get points,” Zimmerman said Sunday night. “I texted Wes early last week and asked if he was playing at RidgePointe (in Jonesboro, the final regular designated event on the ASGA schedule). I said, ‘If you’re not playing, I’m not.’
“He said he was done for the year. I hope there’s not any secret tournament I don’t know about.”
Zimmerman will conclude his ASGA schedule Monday in qualifying at Paradise Valley in Fayetteville for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. In eight tournaments prior to that, he posted three wins (Mystic Creek, Harbor Oaks and the Sherwood Amateur). He finished fourth in the Rebsamen Invitational/Little Rock City Championship, fifth in the Fourth of July Classic, tied for fifth (quarterfinals) in the ASGA Match Play Championship, tied for sixth in the Arkansas State Amateur and tied for eighth in the Maumelle Classic.
Zimmerman, who graduated from UALR in 2013 with a degree in business management, never won the ASGA’s Junior Player of the Year award.
“I didn’t really get good until I was about to turn 17,” he said. “I was kind of a late bloomer. But I won two state titles — the Junior Match Play when I was 17 (2009) and the Junior Stroke when I was 16 (2008).”
Zimmerman is applying to veterinary school and said this was the first summer in recent years he’d been able to spend much time playing competitively.
“Every summer I was taking classes toward vet school that prohibited me from playing,” he said. “You can’t take all these science classes and work full time and play much. The most I played was probably three tournaments.”
Thus while Player of the Year had been a dream for several years, it only became a goal this summer.
“I’ve always known I was capable of winning it; I just never had time,” he said. “This summer I really wanted to and made that my No. 1 goal. I was through with school; all I had to do was work full-time at two vet clinics and play golf.
“I’m happy to accomplish it. Now I’m ready to get into vet school.”
He said his first choice was LSU, but he would also take Oklahoma State or Missouri.
“I’m happy with wherever I go,” he said, adding that he would likely know where he’s headed by late winter. Enrollment will be for Fall 2018.
“Next summer I don’t know if I’ll try to do it again,” he said of pursuing another Player of the Year award. “That’s why I really wanted to win it this year. I know my time is limited. Once I get out of school, my priority will be saving lives and making others happy versus winning golf tournaments.”
In just this second year on the ASGA circuit, Wrentz is a two-time super-senior Player of the Year.
“I have to give my wife (Barbara) credit,” he said Sunday. “She’s the one who encouraged me to (join the ASGA circuit). It wasn’t for a lack of confidence. I just didn’t really want to get involved, but once I did, I fell in love with it.”
Prior to last summer, he said his only competitive golf had been in the Rolling Hills club championships, which he’s won a division of 12 times. The latest was the super-senior division last weekend.
“I wish I had played more competitively,” he said. “It’s so much fun, and just a bunch of good guys.”
In 14 ASGA tournaments, Wrentz won six — Fianna Hills, Harbor Oaks, Rebsamen Invitational/Little Rock City Championship, Eagle Mountain, Pine Bluff Country Club and the Sherwood Amateur. He finished second in the Relyance Bank Classic, Arkansas State Amateur, Big Creek Stroke and tied for second at Eagle Hill, took third at Mystic Creek and the Fourth of July Classic at War Memorial and tied for third in the ASGA Match Play Championship and finished fifth in the Maumelle Classic.
He said when he started, he had no idea what to expect from the ASGA competition.
“I didn’t know if I’d be able to compete at all,” he said. “It was kind of a shock, and then it became fun, and the more fun you have, the more confidence you have, and the more confidence you have, the more you win.”
Zimmerman and Wrentz, along with Cabot’s Connor Gaunt (Junior Boys Player of the Year) and the other winners, will be honored at the ASGA’s Hall of Fame banquet on Sept. 28.