Powell, Wyoming, isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of golf epicenters. The town has only about 6,000 people, one course and freezing temperatures for more than half the …
Powell, Wyoming, isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of golf epicenters. The town has only about 6,000 people, one course and freezing temperatures for more than half the year.
Still, the community churns out quality golfers like not many others.
Three Powell natives — West Hernandez, Rich Olmsted and Wade Hernandez — will compete at PGA National Club Championship at Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina this weekend. To qualify for the Saturday to Monday event, golfers were required to win their club championship in 2020.
West Hernandez and Olmsted still live in Powell, while Wade Hernandez now resides in Boise, Idaho. West won the men’s championship at Powell Golf Club, while Olmsted won the senior’s division. And Wade — West’s younger brother — won the club championship at Falcon Crest.
As the three venture to the East Coast, they have one shared goal: represent their hometown well.
“It’s an honor,” Wade said. “Powell’s home for me. Even though I don’t live there anymore, I still stay in touch.”
Olmsted joked, “I hope I can play well enough to represent Powell.”
Each of the three admitted that they don’t expect to be toward the top of the leaderboard at the tournament. Due to Wyoming’s brisk climate, West and Olmsted haven’t played a round in 2021, while Wade has played just one.
Olmsted’s goal is to break 100 each day. Wade wants to shoot three rounds in the 70s. And West said he isn’t focused on his scores, but rather “giving it 100% and representing Wyoming.”
More than anything, the trio looks forward to playing one of the nation’s premier golf courses. The Pinehurst Resort — which was established in 1895 — consists of nine 18-hole courses. Pinehurst No. 2 has hosted the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
“We’re getting to play at what’s probably the mecca of American golf,” Olmsted said. “Playing it and taking in that experience will be pretty special.”
West said, “Just the history of Pinehurst is amazing. My game isn’t in good shape, so just having a good time playing.”
After clinching spots in the tournament, the Hernandez brothers knew they wanted to participate. Olmsted also desired to compete, but was leaning toward not going, due to the cost and far travel. But his wife, Kris, made the decision for him.
“She made me,” Olmsted said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and she knew I really wanted to and wouldn’t say it.”
Each of the three golfers will be joined by their wives in North Carolina, and West’s wife — Katie — will even caddy for him. West said Katie has “started to get into golf in the last year,” and it will be “fantastic for her to see a major course and get that experience.”
Before the three-day tournament begins, the group will play a couple of practice rounds. Though Olmsted and the Hernandez brothers likely won’t be paired with one another in the actual tournament, they will play together in the days leading up to the competition.
That’s when most of the “friendly” smack talk will endure, according to the three.
“We’re all pretty good friends, but there will definitely be some,” Olmsted said.
Particularly, Wade and West will perpetuate a sibling rivalry that goes back decades. West, 41, is the older brother to 38-year-old Wade, and West admitted that, although he’s “gotten the better of” Wade over the years, Wade is “certainly” the better golfer.
In addition to shooting three rounds in the 70s, Wade is focused on something else: beating West.
“West has more club championships, but I can say I’ve won club championships in two states,” Wade said. “Our games aren’t going to be peak, but I just hope I can play better than him.”
West admitted, “I expect him to come out victorious.”
Though smack talk and friendly competition will be on display in Pinehurst, the golfers look forward more to precious time with loved ones in a picturesque setting. And while doing that, the three will strive to display the pride of their hometown, 1,673 miles away.
“There aren’t many Wyomingites competing, so we just want to represent the state well,” West said. “The expectations aren’t super high, but we’re going to represent Powell and do our best.”
Olmsted added, “If we do well, that will raise even more awareness here, and kids will see that.”