Longtime Northwest golf leader will help set up U.S. Open championship

Much of John Bodenhamer’s career in golf comes full circle this week at the 115th U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay.

The longtime executive director of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association moved to deeper waters in 2011, accepting a position as the USGA’s senior managing director of rules, competitions and equipment standards.

Alongside USGA executive director Mike Davis and USGA managing director of rules and competitions Jeff Hall, Bodenhamer will have a big say in how Chambers Bay is set up for championship play, from tee to green.

Considering that Bodenhamer was on the committee that selected Robert Trent Jones Jr. to design Chambers Bay, this is certainly a big week.

But this also marks the end of a challenging four-year stretch personally.

When Bodenhamer, a Lakes High School and Brigham Young University graduate, took the USGA job, he left behind his family when he moved to New Jersey.

The reason? He and his wife, Pam, wanted both their son, John Jr., and daughter, Megan, to graduate from Tahoma High School with their longtime friends.

“I have … the greatest wife in the world, and we made this decision together,” said Bodenhamer, 53, during a quick break from U.S. Open planning meetings Tuesday afternoon at the course.

“It was hard. I did not want to leave here. I still love it here. This will always be home. But it was just the right time (to take a USGA job). I accomplished every goal I set for myself here.”

With his family still living in Maple Valley, Bodenhamer has been renting a condominium near USGA headquarters in Far Hills, New Jersey.

His son just completed his junior baseball season at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, a two-hour drive from where Bodenhamer lives now.

“They played games mostly Fridays through Sunday, so I watched a lot of games on weekends,” Bodenhamer said. “And he traveled around playing, too, so I got to go to Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C.”

Initially, when the Bodenhamers earmarked the move East, it was supposed to happen the Monday after this U.S. Open.

But because Megan just graduated last week, and is set to attend the University of Washington, Bodenhamer said his wife will remain in Washington a couple more months before the couple puts its house on the market.

In the meantime, the Bodenhamers — married 21 years — have been looking to buy in a house in New Jersey in either Summit or New Providence.

“I have missed a lot of things, but I also made it to a lot of things (in Washington), said Bodenhamer, who is a co-chair of the USA Golf Federation board of directors, and will be in Brazil for with the men’s and women’s golf teams in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“I came back almost every weekend that I wasn’t traveling somewhere. … Flying back and forth wasn’t easy, but it has been worth it.”