For the fourth time in the past seven years, one of a small group of Georgia PGA members who have dominated tournament play in the Section dating back to the 1990s will be inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.
Tim Weinhart will follow long-time competitors Stephen Keppler (Class of 2014), James Mason(’16) and Sonny Skinner (’18) into the Hall of Fame when he is inducted March 13 at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Weinhart, an Alpharetta resident who turned 50 last year, has followed a slightly different path to his selection as a Hall of Fame inductee than the three Georgia PGA members who recently preceded him.
Keppler is a career club professional who has served as head pro/Director of Golf at two Atlanta area clubs for about 30 years, and was the Georgia PGA’s top player for much of the 1990s, during which he came closer to winning a PGA Tour event than any club professional has in modern history.
Mason and Skinner both spent considerable time as tour pros, with Mason joining the Champions Tour for a decade after spending most of his professional career as a club and teaching professional prior to the age of 50. Skinner spent 15 years playing the PGA Tour and its satellite circuit before becoming a full-time competitor in Georgia PGA events in the mid-2000s.
Weinhart has worked at golf courses in the Atlanta area since he was a teen-ager in DeKalb County in the early 1980s. He moved with his family from Rochester N.Y., and worked at Hidden Hills Country Club, where his parents were members.
After graduating from Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Weinhart attempted to make the golf team as a walk-on at Kentucky, but was unsuccessful in that endeavor, and after a very brief stint as a college student, returned home to go to work in the golf business.
Carlen Webb, the head pro at Southland in DeKalb County at the time, hired Weinhart as part of his staff, and for the next decade Weinhart worked at Southland, Berkeley Hills and what became Alpharetta Country Club before recently shutting down, while making occasional efforts at playing at the mini-tour level, mostly the Hooters Tour.
Weinhart started at Southland in 1989 after competing in the Georgia Amateur and got into the PGA Apprentice Program, becoming a PGA member three years later at age 23.
In 1998, Weinhart landed at Mulligans, a driving range in Winder that was owned by one of his friends. That was the beginning of his transition from an in-shop assistant to a teaching pro. After a few years there, he went to work for Jimmy Mozley,a respected instructor who operated his own golf facility in Lawrenceville.
Weinhart says that learning to become a teacher from Mozley “was the best thing that ever happened to me in my professional career.” In addition to learning from Mozley, Weinhart also got to watch how Mason, who was also teaching at Mozley’s golf center, prepared for his effort to make it to the Champions Tour.
Mason developed into one of the Georgia PGA’s top players in his late 40s, earning Player of the Year honors three times in a 4-year span following Keppler’s 4-year run.
Weinhart emerged as a major player in the Georgia PGA in 1997, scoring the first of his many Section victories in the Griffin Classic, an event that was played at the former Griffin Country Club for two decades.
He became a fixture on leader boards in Georgia PGA events, although his early years as a contender consisted primarily of a lot of close calls, including a number of playoff losses in some of the Section’s highest profile events.
In 2000, Weinhart lost a playoff to Mason in the Atlanta Open, reached the finals of the Match Play Championship and placed third in the Georgia Open. He changed jobs again in 2001, returning to a club job at River Pines, where he worked in the shop and taught alongside another highly respected instructor – Mike Perpich.
Weinhart’s game thrived during his association with Perpich, and he won his first four Player of the Year honors in succession from 2002 to ’05. Although he did not win a tournament in 2002 or ’03, he recorded seven top-5 finishes in Section events, including three more playoff losses. He also began to make his mark at the national level, tying for fifth in the 2002 PGA club professional championship.
Another factor in Weinhart’s successes around that time was the book “With Winning in Mind” by Lanny Bassham.
“I had a temper back them and to say I was frustrated (by all the close calls) is an understatement,” Weinhart says. “I read the book and it changed things. I had the game, but I had to learn to control my mind.”
After years of one near miss after another, Weinhart finally broke through to win the 2004 Georgia Open at the Legends at Chateau Elan, edging soon-to-be PGA Tour player Kris Blanks by a shot. He won three more times in ‘05, including his first titles in two majors – the Match Play and Section Championship.
That year was also a key one for Weinhart from a career standpoint, as he established his own teaching base at St. Marlo, where he stayed for seven years.
Weinhart said having his own teaching base, “Gave me an opportunity to set my own schedule. If I wanted to play in an event, I could do it and not ask for permission.”
After his stretch at St. Marlo, Weinhart spent five years at the Standard Club before moving to his current base of operations at Heritage Golf Links. The club’s learning center has Weinhart’s name on it (Tim Weinhart Golf Academy), and he has split his teaching time in recent years between Heritage and Woodmont, both of which are owned by Triumph Golf.
“Having your name on the door changes things, “Weinhart says. “Everything needs to be done properly, and if not, why isn’t it?”
Weinhart says his years as a teacher have been “tremendously gratifying,” and he is “grateful” to those who taught him, as well as providing him insights into how to become a better instrctor, citing Charlie Sorrell and Tommy Brannen, along with Mozley and Perpich.
During his early days as an instructor, Weinhart says a fellow pro told him “You can’t be a good teacher and a good player.” Although he says he doesn’t remember who told him that, Weinhart asserts that he “will never forget” the comment, or his response, an emphatic “Yes I can.”
In addition to his standing as a 10-time Georgia PGA Player of the Year, Weinhart is also well respected as a teacher.
“I take a lot of pride in that,” he says. Some of his students who he began teaching as youngsters have developed into pros, and Weinhart admits “That is pretty cool. I’m very thankful to be able to do that.
“I know I can teach and still play a little bit.”
While working as a club pro and instructor, Weinhart never lost the desire to become a tour pro, and was an annual participant at PGA Tour qualifying school for much of his adult life, attending 18 times, with some occasional absences due to “financial” circumstances. He now realizes he had “no business being there” during his early years as a pro, but his success in the national club pro championship in 2005 got him closer to his lifelong goal.
Weinhart finally made it to the finals of qualifying in 2006, which gave him limited status on the 2007 Nationwide Tour. He said he was “stressed out and sick” the week of Q-school finals, but played well for three rounds while struggling the other three.
As a result, he made only nine starts in ‘07, a few of them in home state events through the Georgia PGA and most of the rest as late entrants.
“My number was so low that I didn’t find out I was in the field until Tuesday or Wednesday before the tournament.”
Weinhart made three of nine cuts that year, with the one he’ll long remember coming in an event in Minnesota. After scores of 69, 68 and 69, Weinhart was on the leader board entering the final round and was in line for a high finish with four holes to play.
“I had not been paying attention to leader boards but then I saw one, and I threw up all over myself the last four holes.”
A couple of 3-putts and a double bogey sent Weinhart plummeting down the standings, while most of the other contenders were making birdies late in the day. Weinhart wound up tying for 24th, just two shots out of the top 10 and five out of a tie for fourth that included Augusta’s Scott Parel, now one of the top players on the Champions Tour, and Roswell’s Justin Bolli, who defeated Weinhart in a Georgia Open playoff in 2003 before going on to win four times on the Nationwide Tour and play four years on the PGA Tour.
Weinhart ended the year with $7,346 in earnings and significantly more in expenses, and that was basically it for his efforts to play on the tour. During his career, he has played in 19 tournaments on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour, 11 of them in his adopted home state. He never made the cut in his 11 starts in Georgia, and is 0-for-18 on the PGA Tour, spanning more than 22 years.
Among Weinhart’s starts in golf’s major leagues are five appearances in the PGA Championship between 2002 and ’09, one U.S. Open in 2012 and 12 home state tournaments. His last six starts in Georgia came in the RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club, which he says is “my favorite course in the world that I’ve played.”
In his first four starts in the tournament, Weinhart shot either 1 or 2-over for 36 holes to miss the cut by two or three shots. The first year the tournament was played, Weinhart recalls leading the field in putting after 36 holes, but it wasn’t enough to get him to the weekend.
Weinhart’s most lingering PGA Tour memory came in 2004 in the BellSouth Classic at TPC Sugarloaf, an event he played in five times. After almost chipping in for eagle on the par-5 fourth hole in the second round (his 13thhole of the day), Weinhart was 2-under for the round and the tournament, and was among the top 20 with five holes to play.
But errant drives on holes 5 and 9 resulted in a double bogey and triple bogey respectively, with Weinhart coming to the ninth needing only a bogey to make the cut.
Weinhart says experiences like the ones in Minnesota and Sugarloaf “have toughened me up. Every time I fail, it just makes me work harder. Things like that are frustrating, but that’s why you practice.”
There has also been considerable success during his playing career to offset the frustrating moments, and Weinhart returned to play in the Georgia PGA Section in 2008 undeterred by his difficult year on the Nationwide Tour.
He won three straight Player of the Year titles from 2009-11, capturing an elusive Atlanta Open title for the only time in 2009 to complete the Georgia PGA Grand Slam, along with the second of what is now six career victory in the Georgia PGA’s qualifier for the national club pro championship.
“I’ve always been good at qualifying,” says Weinhart, with the national club pro event the best example. He qualified for nationals for the first time in 1998, and after missing out the next year, qualified for the next 15 years in a row. He will be in the national club pro this year for the 20thtime in the last 23 years and has three top 10s along with two other finishes high enough to get him into the PGA Championship.
One of Weinhart’s fonder qualifying memories dates back to 1996, when survived a 7-players-for-2-spots playoff in a Nike event in Buffalo, close to the city he was born in.
Over his career in the Georgia PGA, Weinhart has won 18 points events, including the PGA club pro qualifier six times and the Section Championship and Match Play Championship three times each. He also won the Assistants’ Championship three times along with six team events, among them the Pro-Pro Scramble for the third time last year.
Weinhart turned 50 in 2019, making him eligible for senior events, and won the Georgia PGA Senior Championship soon thereafter. That qualified him for the Senior PGA Professional Championship and he shot a final round 68 to record a top-30 finish and qualify for the 2020 Senior PGA Championship, a major on the Champions Tour.
After electing not to compete in qualifying for the Champions Tour last year, Weinhart will attempt to qualify for a handful of Champions events this season. He made it through a pre-qualifier in Naples, Fla., earlier this year, but came up two shots short in the final qualifier. He will try to qualify for the event in Biloxi in late March and the annual stop at Sugarloaf in mid-April, but other than the U.S. Senior Open, which holds one-day qualifiers all over the country, and a possible second shot at qualifying for the Senior British Open, he won’t have any other events within driving distance until late in the season.
Turning 50 did not impact Weinhart’s play in Georgia PGA events last year, as he earned Player of the Year honors for the 10thtime, placing second in the Section Championship and winning the qualifier for the national club pro for a sixth time, both after he reached the big 5-0.
Weinhart begins his quest for an 11thPlayer of the Year title this month with the Match Play Championship, and with senior events, including the Senior PGA Championship, also on his schedule, will have an even busier than usual playing schedule along with his teaching duties at Heritage and Woodmont.
All that will follow his induction into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame along with three others, among them Dalton amateur David Noll, a frequent Weinhart opponent in the Peters Cup matches between the Georgia PGA and GSGA.