The 2005 professional golf season was winding down, and Bill Lunde had had enough.
He was 30 years old and had lost his passion for playing. He had wiped out at qualifying school. His game was a mess. He had been dealing with the pressure of the game since he was 10 and was tired of trying to realize the lofty expectations he had placed upon himself.
It was time to move on.
Lunde sat out the 2006 season. But after realizing the housing market in Las Vegas was making a sharp U-turn in the wrong direction, Lunde quit his job with a title company before he could be laid off, grabbed his clubs from the closet and rekindled his career late in 2007.
“I was just going through the motions,” Lunde said. “My heart wasn’t in it. But after trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, it came back to golf.”
The former UNLV star, who was a member of the 1998 national championship team and has a degree in communications, resumed his golf career with a new attitude. He wouldn’t be so hard on himself. He would do his best and whatever happened, happened.
He would have fun.
“I sort of fell back into it,” Lunde said. “I was playing on the Butch Harmon Tour in Las Vegas, which enabled me to stay home and make some money. I had some success, and that led to my coming back.”
And come back he has — with newfound determination on the Nationwide Tour, golf’s Triple-A level. He has won more than $97,000 and has had two top-10 finishes this year.
“My attitude is totally different,” Lunde said. “I’m not as hard on myself as in the past. I’m enjoying myself much more.”
Lunde is one of six former Rebels who regularly play on the Nationwide Tour. The stops aren’t as glamorous and the purses not as rich as those on the PGA Tour, but the competition is intense, and it’s still a chance to play for pay.
“The level of play is really good,” said Lunde, who has career earnings of $264,579. “It’s a fine line between the PGA Tour and the Nationwide. On any given week, there’s 20 PGA Tour winners playing the Nationwide, trying to get back to the Tour,”
Lunde, like virtually all the Rebel golf alumni, credits coach Dwaine Knight.
“Coach Knight made us all accountable,” Lunde said. “You had to go to class, work hard and not just get by. Those were great life lessons.”
The 1998 national championship team, which included current pros Charley Hoffman and Jeremy Anderson, provided plenty of competition from within.
“You had to play well to be in the lineup,” Lunde said. “We had such a high caliber of player. Everyone was pushing each other.”
Lunde said his decision to attend UNLV was one of the best he ever made. It allowed him to win a national championship and be selected as a second-team All-American.
“I think back to my sophomore year when I didn’t get to travel with the team to nationals and I got to stay back after school ended and practice with the guys,” he said. “That gave me confidence for the rest of my time (at UNLV), and that helped prepare me for my career.”
A career that appears to be back on track.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.REBEL GOLF TRIVIA
Facts about the UNLV men’s golf program:
Of UNLV’s 17 intercollegiate sports, the golf team is the only self-sufficient program, operating from a self-endowed program begun in 1990. The endowment program currently is at $4.5 million.
In addition to its 1998 NCAA team championship, UNLV has had two individual NCAA champions — Warren Schutte in 1993 and Ryan Moore in 2004.
Tiger Woods almost became a Rebel. Woods was considering UNLV and Stanford in 1993 before opting to go to Stanford.
Coach Dwaine Knight is in three halls of fame — the Golf Coaches Association of America (2002), the Southern Nevada Golf Association (2002) and the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame (2004).
In 2004, Moore achieved a rare golfing hat trick, winning the NCAA championship and the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links titles.
Jeremy Anderson, a member of the 1998 national championship team, is a three-time academic All-America (1998 to 2000). He also was player of the year in two conferences (Western Athletic and Mountain West).
Chris Riley has represented the United States in the Ryder Cup, playing in 2004. Riley and Moore also have represented the USA in the Walker Cup, Riley playing in 1996, Moore in 2003. Ted Oh played for the USA’s Palmer Cup squad in 1997, which was captained by Knight.