A self-taught late bloomer, Jim Johnson never addressed a golf ball until he was in his mid-20s and taking a second crack at college at Western State College in Gunnison. It was there that his boarding house buddies engaged the one-time Greeley High ballplayer in that old Sam Snead-Ted Williams argument about which was harder to hit, a baseball or golf ball.
“I just couldn’t believe that little white ball sat there in the grass and I couldn’t hit it,” Johnson recalls. His interest challenged, Jim scratched the new itch working in a wheat field that summer. He bought an old wedge, some balls and began harvesting a golf swing between threshed wheat.
Back in Gunnison, where he could play golf all day for $10, Johnson became hooked on “cow pasture pool.”
He graduated with a teaching degree, but decided if he were going to teach anything it would be golf. In 1970, at age 28, he became an assistant pro at The Club at Rolling Hills and rapidly rose to Head PGA Professional and Director of Golf—the position from which he retired in 2014.
A player of exceptional talent and character, Johnson also has been a tremendous instructor and organizer, a devoted family man and dedicated advocate of junior golf.
None of his contributions to the game are more heartfelt or important to him than the Ashley Forey Tournament he created in honor of the daughter of Rolling Hills members Karen and Dan Forey. A standout golfer at Wheat Ridge High, Ashley died in a 1993 auto accident. The 21st annual event was held in 2014 and has become one of the state’s most prestigious girls’ golf events.
Johnson was a standout member of the Colorado PGA Cup team for 37 years. His star-spangled playing career also earned him Colorado PGA Professional of the Year honors in 1985; Colorado PGA Senior Player of Year in 1995, 1996 and 1998; Wyoming Senior Open champ in 1992; and Colorado Senior Open and Colorado Senior PGA winner in 1998. He qualified for U.S. Senior Opens in 1995 and 1998.