Important People In Golf You’ve Never Heard Of… Jim Manthis
Jim Manthis has done more for golf in Minnesota than anyone else in recent memory. Mentored by former Midland Hills PGA Head Professional Wally Mund and Ken Venturi of PGA Tour and announcing fame, Jim has learned how to continue to give back to the game.
Jim is one of the most decorated current golf professionals in the area. Jim was named the 53rd recipient of the PGA Golf Professional of the year in 2006. This is the highest annual honor bestowed by the PGA of America on a PGA Professional. Besides winning this national award, Jim was inducted into the MGA/PGA Golf Hall of fame in 2008. Some of the many other awards Jim has received are:
PGA Teacher of the Year – Minnesota Section (2006)
Minnesota Section Golf Professional of the Year (1984)
Section Bill Strausbaugh Award (1992)
Jim is a PGA Master Professional and teaches at the University of Minnesota/Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul as well as Monterey CC in Palm Desert California in the winter.
A native of Minneapolis and resident of Coon Rapids, Manthis was introduced to golf at age 9 when he found a hickory shafted club in the attic. His love for the game grew exponentially when he met Wally Mund while serving as a caddie at Midland Hills CC in St. Paul. Wally took Jim under his wing and helped guide his career.
“When we had career day in High School our teacher allowed me to report on being a Club Pro as my career. My report lasted 1 hour and a full hour the next day, there were so many questions. The other kids had never heard of anyone doing this before”, Jim reminisced.
Manthis ended up succeeding Mund at Midland Hills as the head professional in 1967 and held this position until 1995.
An accomplished player, Jim has won tournaments in six different decades, including the 1981 State Match Play, 1993 Senior Stroke and Match Play and 1999 Wisconsin Senior Stroke Play events. He has always been known as one of the best shot-makers in the area and still hits 14-15 greens in regulation when he plays.
Jim first met Ken Venturi at Keller Golf Course during the St. Paul Open. While being deemed too small to caddy, Manthis paid $7.50 for a ticket and after watching Sam Snead and George Bayer during the pro-am he happened to see his friend caddying for Ken Venturi. Jim decided to follow along and Ken won the tournament, calling Jim “his good luck charm”. A lifelong friendship ensued. “I still talk to Ken every year” says Manthis. “Last winter I asked him to hit some balls with me and I got some new things I’ve never heard from him before. Ken taught me the fundamentals of the set up and how to play a course. He always said to try to move the ball, either higher, lower or draw or fade to take advantage of every situation. I still love to shape shots. It’s no fun hitting only one type of shot.”
Jim has been giving back for over 45 years. He has demonstrated this best by training more than 250 caddies, including 37 who earned Chick Evans Scholarships to attend college. Additionally Manthis mentored six assistants who went on to pursue golf professional careers.
His PGA educational service includes teaching PGA Business Schools I and II in Minneapolis, and a Golf for Business and Life course at the University of Minnesota. Manthis is also the co-founder of the Section Junior Golf Academy; co-author of the academy’s teaching manual along with rules and regulations for a 165-event per year Section Junior Golf Tour.
Spending time with Jim really gives you a sense of how much he cares about the game and the amount of time he has spent observing and learning from others. Jim can tell you captivating stories about Ben Hogan and Moe Norman and their unbelievable ball striking abilities. He also is a lifelong learner.
Every year he comes back from California and shares a new tip or method he saw used by another teaching professional. Here is one of the handful of Master Teaching Professionals in the area and he’s still looking to learn more. He can’t get enough, because he’s driven to help his students improve.
Jim is proud of his children: Ken a PGA Professional at Brightwood Hills Golf Course in New Brighton; Joan, a research psychologist; and a son Steve, who is a high school English instructor and coaches hockey and golf at Totino Grace High School. He also has grandchildren that he loves to have fun with.
Look for Jim out on the driving range at the University of Minnesota. He’ll be the one getting a bigger kick out of his student’s success than they do. He loves golf and is continuing to give back to the game!