SoCal junior Jason Bannister hopes to continue his winning ways in Indiana
Look out, Indiana, here he comes.
Jason Bannister, who is in the midst of his senior year as captain of the boys golf team at Dana Hills High School, committed to go to the University of Southern Indiana after graduation next fall and, odds are, he can’t get to the Hoosier state fast enough.
After all, he’s played in nine major junior golf tournaments in the state in the past two years and he’s won four of them, his most-recent victory coming in June at the Indiana Junior PGA Championship in Peru.
In July alone, Bannister notched a fourth-place finish at the AJGA Yoder Oil at Knollwood in Indiana and advanced to match play in the Indiana Boys’ State Championship before being eliminated after the first round.
Bannister’s victories in the state include two Indiana Junior titles in 2018, one at Hidden Creek Golf Club and one at Otis Park Golf Course, and two victories in 2019 that include the Age Group Championship in French Lick and an AJGA Qualifier at Knollwood.
So why does a kid who grew up playing golf in Southern California have so much success in a state so far away?
“I feel that I am more relaxed when I compete in Indiana,” said Bannister, who has won SCPGA Players Tour events on his home turf in SoCal, but nothing like what he’s accomplished in Indiana. ”It seems each year I manage to have my greatest leaps in ability while I am in Indiana. I also really enjoy putting on Bent grass greens, which gives me more confidence in my putting.”
Bannister’s success at home and across state lines has impressed his coach Wade Wilson, the PGA Director of Instruction at El Niguel Country Club.
“Jason is a gifted young man,” Wilson said. “He is a long hitter and has an excellent short game. He is not afraid to go for it while being aware of when to be conservative. He has high expectations and wants to succeed in all facets of his life.”
We caught up with Jason to find out more about his golf game and what he hopes to accomplish in the future:
How long have you been playing golf and how did you get started?
I was first introduced to the game by my father at El Niguel Country Club when I was 2 and met Wade Wilson when I was 5. Since that day, he has been my swing coach. I’ve been playing golf for almost all my life. I started taking it more seriously around the age of 11 when I began to play in tournaments. The last two summers I’ve really pushed myself to compete at the highest levels of junior golf.
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What made you decide to commit to the University of Southern Indiana?
Being in the state of Indiana was on the top of my priority list when looking at schools to attend. When coach Grant Saylor reached out about a year ago, I was stoked that a school from Indiana had interest in my golfing ability. I also really like the location of the school (just outside Evansville Indiana) and the campus itself.
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What do you enjoy about golf?
I like the individual aspect of the game. It allows me to play my own game and not have to rely on others to obtain the end result. I also enjoy the challenges the game brings with it day after day.
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What are some of the things playing junior golf has taught you?
Playing junior golf in Southern California and Indiana has taught me how to be self-dependent while on the course. In most events we are not allowed to have a caddy, but junior golf teaches you how to be your own caddy.
What is the best part of your game and why?
The strongest part of my golf game would be iron play. I have the ability to launch my irons high and land them soft on the green, but I can also flight the ball and keep it low.
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What do you hope to accomplish in the game of golf?
I have a few goals I would like to reach, one of them being playing college golf. Since I have committed to Southern Indiana, I have accomplished this goal. I would also like to gain a degree in agronomy and become a superintendent. I really enjoy the maintenance side of golf and would like to have a career in it.
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What do you do for fun when you’re not playing golf?
I am riding around El Niguel with our assistant Superintendent Dan Faucette learning all I can about the agronomy side of golf.
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Who is your favorite player on the PGA Tour and why?
Phil Mickelson. I really like his go-for-broke approach and his creativity around the greens.
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What is your best round of golf ever and where?
My personal best round is 63 (-9) at Rolling Meadows Golf Club in Gosport, Indiana.
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What is your most treasured golf possession?
My lob wedge. I can hit any shot with it with loads of confidence.
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Who would be in your dream foursome?
Bill Murray, John Daly and Phil Mickelson.
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Greetings, fellow golfers, and welcome to SoCal Golf Insider! We are Rob Lyon and Eric Marson and we've been reporting and writing about the game throughout the region since 1995. Here, we will provide you with the latest news, features, reviews and more on all things golf in Southern California. Let’s tee it up!
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