Moves to northern California to hone his golf game

For many teenagers, the pandemic lockdown meant hours of Netflix and video games.

For Jasper Timmer, it marked the beginning of an odyssey from the Garrison Golf Club to Pioneer High School in San Jose, California, where he has helped its golf team win two league championships.

Jasper Timmer
Jasper Timmer

Jasper, 16, who will be a junior this fall, is a team leader, said Jeff Steinberg, the Pioneer coach. “He has a very good chance of playing college golf. He has the drive and the work ethic. And he just pounds the ball.”

Yet, before early 2020, Jasper had never played a round. He had dabbled in various sports as a student at the Garrison School and played lacrosse in a Philipstown Recreation league but found that sport too bruising. “It got kind of old after two years,” he said.

In the summer of 2020, his father, Ted, took his 13-year-old to the driving range at the Fishkill Golf Course on Route 9.

Jasper caught the attention of Ralph Montoya, a longtime club pro who played on the PGA Tour, including in the 1979 PGA Championship. Montoya, a native of Cuba who is now 91, asked how long Jasper had been playing. Ted explained that Jasper had started the week before at a golf camp in Garrison.

“You know he has a perfect swing,” Montoya said.

Jasper Timmer, then 13, shared a light moment with Ralph Montoya in 2020 at the Fishkill Golf Course.
Jasper Timmer, then 13, shared a light moment with Ralph Montoya in 2020 at the Fishkill Golf Course.

Jasper’s game got a boost when the quarantine prompted Ted and Nell Timmer in the fall of 2020 to home-school their children (Jasper is the second of five).

“I’d do school work from when I woke up until 11,” Jasper said. Then his father would drop him at the Garrison Golf Course, a half-mile from his house. “Some days I would do eight or nine hours,” Jasper said. “I’d play 18 holes almost every day.”

Jasper began golf lessons with Montoya, whom Jasper describes as “old school.” “He focused on the short game — the chipping and putting,” said Jasper. “A lot of people these days focus on gaining distance.”

Jasper fell for the sport. “I love the challenge that golf brings both mentally and trying to figure out the swing,” he said. “I love when I play well and figure something out. It is so rewarding.”

His parents started looking for ways for Jasper to play year-round — not easy in the Northeast. Jasper’s aunt and uncle, Mary and Dillon Okner, live in San Jose, and Pioneer has a highly competitive golf team. Perhaps Jasper would like to move west to live with the Okners?

Ted Timmer wrote Coach Steinberg describing his son’s interest in relocating to San Jose to play golf. “I wondered whether to take it seriously,” Steinberg said.

But the week before school started in August 2021, Jasper and his father flew to San Francisco. “I was nervous about coming here six days before freshman year started,” Jasper said.

He and his father headed from the airport to the Santa Teresa Golf Club, Pioneer’s home course. By coincidence, the club placed Jasper into a foursome with Oliver Smith, a senior who was the team captain. “It was nice to meet someone right off the bat,” said Jasper.

While golf wouldn’t start until the spring, Steinberg started to hear about the newcomer from his other players. “This Jasper kid is pretty good,” they told him. When Steinberg saw him play, he was stunned. “I had a hard time believing that he’d only been playing since the beginning of COVID,” he said. “He has an absolutely natural swing. And he can hit the ball a mile.”

The Pioneer High School golf team in spring 2022; Jasper is on the far right.
The Pioneer High School golf team in spring 2022; Jasper is on the far right.

In San Jose, Jasper’s life is about golf and school. He rises every morning at 5:15 to lift weights at the gym with his uncle. After school, he hits the range for 90 minutes to practice putting and his swing. Then he plays 18 holes before doing his homework.

When asked what part of his game needs the most work, he said, “Right now? Putting. It’s been a little bit off for me lately.”

This summer, back home in Garrison, he played nine PGA junior tournaments around the Northeast, winning on July 19 at the Blue Hill Golf Club in Pearl River when he shot a 71 (-1), including four birdies. He also finished fourth on July 12 with a 75 (+3) at The Bridge in Sag Harbor.

And he played a round at the Fishkill Golf Course with Montoya. “I told his father, ‘I think Jasper is ready to go on the tour,’ ” Montoya said.

Jasper said he’d love to play professionally someday. “But right now I’m focused on college,” he said. “We’ll see what happens from there.”

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Joey Asher is a freelance writer and former reporter for The Journal News.