Max Homa has made a drastic change to his style of golf in the past few years. An intangible change.
“For whatever reason when I would play in tournaments, I was just too hard on myself,” Homa, a Valencia High School alumnus, told The Signal. “I was just too intense, too mean to myself, all those things. What’s been great is lately, especially in the last two years, I’ve kind of taken what my real personality is in the real world and moved it into golf.”
The change in attitude has helped him tremendously. Homa was able to achieve his first PGA Tour win in the Wells Fargo Championship, which was played from May 2 to May 5.
The fun but intense playing style that helped him earn that title is comparable to the one he had in high school with the Vikings. Homa cites some of his toughest league competition back then as Hart’s Jason Kang, Valencia’s Louis Amira, and West Ranch’s JJ Holen and Collin Wheeler, but he’s just as quick to mention the camaraderie in the league.
“You have your best friends at the time, traveling around with them and in the van and it’s just the funniest, dumbest stuff you can possibly imagine and it’s honestly a little bit more enjoyable,” Homa said. “So that’s, I think what kind of gives you the love for the game and then obviously as you get older things become quite a bit more serious. But prep golf is great.”
His senior year in 2009, Homa topped the final individual Foothill League standings with a total score of 439. He was medalist in two league meets and runner-up in one.
He fondly recalls playing for the Vikings’ then-coach Rusty Swisher in a league that had high-level prep golf juxtaposed with a humble environment.
“It’s cool when you’re surrounded by other highly competitive, highly skilled people because it’s motivating and also they take it quite seriously too,” he said. “But at the same time it had a blue-collar feel, growing up at Vista Valencia, it wasn’t like, a silver spoon, I wasn’t spoon-fed anything. We all kind of earned our way, which also played a big part.”
Homa was able to earn a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley. Throughout college, he held on to the determination to become a professional golfer. When teachers and professors asked him what he wanted to be, pro golfer was always his response. When they asked what his back-up plan was, Homa had no response.
As he continued through his golf career, he had many moments of self-doubt. Two years ago, he earned $18,008 in one year filled with tournaments.
He’d say aloud that he was going to quit golf. Whenever he made the declaration, however, Homa says someone would bark back at him and tell him to shut up. His fiance had a different approach, choosing simply to roll her eyes at him.
But still, he never developed his back-up plan.
“There can’t be a plan B because that’s when your mind wanders and you get complacent and you think ‘Hey, I have a backup plan, no big deal,’” Homa said.
Homa lives in Arizona now, but still has a 661 area code in his phone number. His swing coach, Les Johnson, works at Valencia Country Club, but is always available when needed.
Ahead of Homa is the PGA Championship, the Charles Schwab Challenge and Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament, among several other events.
As he presses on, Homa encourages Santa Clarita prep golfers to stay focused, work on their short game and just love the sport of golf.
“I hope that kids out there, whether you want to do this seriously or not, I hope that they kind of find some joy in golf like I did,” he said.