PROVO — Standing in the clubhouse at Riverside Country Club last week, you only had to mention to Chris Moody something about his trip to play in the season’s last major, the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow (in Charlotte, North Carolina), then watch as Moody’s face radiated like a stage spotlight, his eyes twinkling as if plugged into a wall socket.
“It’s a dream of a lifetime,” he said. “I’m so excited. I’m so thrilled to play.”
The PGA Championship will feature the top players in the world including British Open champion Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. Play begins Thursday at the Tom Fazio-designed course.
Moody, the assistant head pro at Riverside Country Club in Provo, is one of 20 club professionals who qualified to play in the PGA Championship when he tied for ninth place at the Club Professional Championship in Sunriver, Oregon, back in June.
When the PGA kicks off Thursday, Moody will join a pair of Utah PGA Tour veterans, Tony Finau and Daniel Summerhays, in the field chasing the Wanamaker Trophy and a chunk of the $10.5 million purse.
Simply put, this is the biggest moment of his golf life.
Moody tees off at 12:35 p.m. (MDT), with Luke List and Jamie Lovemark, the final group going off the front nine.
Moody, an established top competitor annually in the Utah Section of the PGA, won the Provo Open at East Bay Golf Course in June and has a reputation as a quiet, confident gentlemen who posts low scores.
A native of Provo, Moody played collegiate golf at Utah State. Although he competed for the Aggies, he didn’t really make a splash in golf until he graduated.
“He wasn’t a standout player,” said his boss at Riverside, head pro Robert McArthur. “Chris really learned to play the game after he caddied for Dean Wilson in several majors, the Scottish Open and many PGA Tour events."
Wilson, a former Utah Open champion and star at BYU, registered a PGA Tour win before retiring in Las Vegas. He remains very close to Riverside members who knew him from his college days.
“Working with Wilson, he learned how to compete on a high level, how to practice, manage his game and take a tactical approach to a golf course. It also exposed him to how the best players in the world play,” said McArthur.
“I know he’ll do an excellent job representing Riverside because he’s not only a great ambassador for the club but the game of golf in the state of Utah. He’s always handled himself with integrity and trust — he’s just a great man.”
Moody is known for his calm demeanor and humility.
“One thing about Chris is, you never know if he shot 65 or 85. He’s pretty low key about things,” McArthur said.
This was on display last Saturday at Riverside during the awards dinner for the club’s annual tournament called The Mulligan, one of the region’s most coveted amateur team events. The emcee was Senior Tour and PGA Tour veteran Mike Reid, who got emotional talking about Moody’s opportunity at Quail Hollow and what it means to play in a major.
The members loudly cheered Moody, giving him a huge send-off and he was emotional when addressing the group. McArthur said Moody was surprised at the reception he received.
“I think back there he’ll feel very comfortable because he’s been around that kind of environment and has experienced it,” said McArthur. “He is so excited for this opportunity. He’s taken his entire family back there to enjoy the atmosphere of a major. Still, he’s pretty low-key."
On Tuesday, Moody called McArthur to report his experience so far at Quail Hollow after playing the back nine. Moody was impressed by the length of the par-4 holes and said they were like playing the par-5 No. 13. “I hit driver, hybrid on almost every stinking hole,” said Moody. “It’s a long golf course.”
Last week Moody was busy from morning until night working details of The Mulligan. “That may have been a good thing because it took his mind off playing at the PGA Championship,” said the head pro.
Right now, Moody's golf game is as good as it has been, said McArthur.
“Chris really manages his game well. He is very precise and he has a great short game.”
Moody's a long shot to finish anywhere among the top players in the world, but if he did find a way to reel in this event, it would change his life. He’d earn an exemption to play on the PGA Tour, gain entry into the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open for five years.
Plus, he'd automatically be accepted with privileges on the European and other world tours.
A guy can dream ... because you never know.