By Rob LeDonne
“As soon as I started to walk, I was playing golf,” said Carmel Valley Middle School student Jacob Montes. Jacob, a 13-year-old golf phenomenon who is going to the Callaway Junior World Championships this July, has been working literally his entire life to not only become a good golfer, but one of the best. “I remember the first time I won a tournament,” he said. “I was 4.”
Montes has his father to thank for his avid interest in golf, Frank Montes of La Jolla’s Montes Financial. Frank himself started golfing at a late age and never quite got the hang of it. “I had always said that if I ever had a kid, I’d teach him early,” he remembers, and true to his word a few short years after Jacob was born, Frank had him out on the greens. “I figured it was something we could do together, and something that would enhance his life for years to come. I never imagined he’d take it to this whole other level.”
Said Jacob of his humble beginnings: “At the time, it was just a fun thing. After I started to get better at it and began competing, it turned into something I wanted to do all the time.”
Between the ages of 4 and 7, Jacob won a whopping 16 tournaments, a feat he chalks up to “playing every single day. I’d go in my backyard and my dad would line up balls and I’d hit them over a fence.”
However, as Jacob got older his attention turned to other sports as well, including lacrosse and football, but in his eyes golf is “always the priority,” he notes. “It’s funny because everyone knows me in school as the kid who plays football. I never actually started telling people I played golf until this year, and people react by being a little surprised.”
These days Jacob juggles his time between all three sports, and is currently practicing at least four days a week for the Callaway Junior Worlds, for which he qualified by winning a variety of junior golf tournaments in North County.
“For the San Diego Junior Golf Tournament, there are four of them and they take the top four point winners,” Jacob explains. “While competing I was placing high and kind of knew based on the points that I was going to be moving on,” and from there Jacob beat out around 65 other kids to advance.
Jacob, whose golf heroes are Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods, aspires to one day playing Division 1 golf in college and, in his wildest dreams, of perhaps even joining the PGA Tour, to which he already has a connection.
“I’ve gotten to know Charley Hoffman’s caddy very well,” said Jacob of the famed professional golfer. “He’s taken me under his wing, gives me tips and teaches me about course management.”
Throughout all of this, Frank couldn’t be happier: “I’m very, very proud,” he beams. “He works very hard and is very open to all types of input. Once you become a low handicapper, his is just under 2, the way you get better is what’s called your golf IQ. Half of the game is technical and the other half is mental, and Jacob is very mature in his game. He always knows the exact kind of shot to play and understands how a PGA player thinks... it’s unbelievable.”
Said Jacob of his intense interest and talent: “It’s such an up and down game. I like golf because it’s so much like life.”
The Callaway Junior World Golf Championships, an international competition which have been held annually since 1968, will take place this year between July 15-19 all over San Diego.