Former fighter pilot now focuses on golf swing

John Turk spent 22 years in the U.S. Air Force flying fighter jets and making split-second decisions. His life and that of his fellow pilots depended upon him making the proper calls.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when Turk, the 2016 Southern Nevada Golf Association senior division player of year, admitted short putts don’t rattle him. He was one of several honorees feted Monday at Bear’s Best Las Vegas during the annual SNGA awards dinner.

“Let me tell you the difference between golf and flying,” Turk said. “I was flying at Mach 2 speeds and making decisions 20 to 100 miles ahead of me. Do you think I really care about a 4-foot putt? There’s no pressure in a 4-foot putt. It either goes in or it doesn’t. When you’re living on the edge flying every day, you get used to pressure situations. It takes the ultimate focus. It boils down to the ability to focus on the task at hand and stay disciplined, so in that sense, the experience of flying definitely helps with golf.”

Turk moved to Las Vegas in 2009 after his active flying days were over and now trains drone pilots in Indian Springs. In previous years, those duties prevented him from playing in enough SNGA events to qualify for the player of the year award, but before this season, Turk made it his goal to win top honors. He won six of 15 tournaments he entered and finished 600 points ahead of runner-up Steven Fink in the standings.

The SNGA award is the latest addition to a resume filled with major golf accomplishments, which include winning the U.S. Armed Forces national championship and the Air Force national championship in 1993. Turk also has 15 career holes-in-one and has recorded 28 rounds with at least nine birdies.

Turk did admit to feeling some nerves when a tournament is on the line.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t, but I think there are people who embrace it and people who fear it,” he said. “I embrace it, and playing in SNGA tournaments gets my competitive fire going.”

Other SNGA players of the year: Edward Fryatt, championship division; Kenneth Paul Jr., net; Michael Campbell, senior net; Frank Abbott, super senior; John Kelley, super senior net.

Community award winners: Cascata, facility; Las Vegas National, member club; Michael Magnera, professional; Bob Orgill, volunteer.

I was recognized with a special media award.

LAS VEGAS WORLD AMATEUR

The Las Vegas World Amateur is scheduled for Feb. 26 to March 2 at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. Paudie O’Connor, a longtime Las Vegas resident and the former mayor of Killarney, Ireland, is the official tournament director for the first time.

O’Connor also operates a tour company that organizes golf trips to Ireland and is giving away two of them in the tournament. Any golfer who enters is eligible to win.

Golfers from all over the globe and locals are scheduled to play in the event, which guarantees three rounds plus gifts. Daily flight winners advance to a fourth day of competition to determine overall champions.

To register, visit VegasWorldAmateur.com.

DEAL OF THE WEEK

Casino workers, military, fire and police personnel, and teachers can play Los Prados for $30 with cart.

DRIVE, CHIP, PUTT

Registration for junior golfers is open at DriveChipandPutt.com for the June 21 TPC Las Vegas qualifier of the 2018 Drive, Chip and Putt competition, which culminates with the national finals at Augusta during Masters week.

STARS ON, OFF COURSE

Chicago Cubs World Series champion Kris Bryant, a Las Vegas resident, spent the day recently at The Kingdom at TaylorMade Golf headquarters in Carlsbad, California, being fitted for the new M line of clubs.

The golf notebook appears Thursdays. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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