Billings golfer Jerry Pearsall returns to amateur ranks for State Mid-Am
Former pro Jerry Pearsall of Billings has rejoined the amateur ranks and will be golfing in the Montana State Mid-Amateur tournament beginning today at Yellowstone Country Club. Pearsall, 42, is a former assistant pro at Lake Hills Golf Club.

Jerry Pearsall is back to playing amateur golf again - and couldn't be happier.

The 42-year-old Billings native will be among the 204 golfers entered in the 20th annual Montana State Mid-Amateur tournament, which tees off today at the Yellowstone Country Club.

Amateur ranks

Pearsall hasn't competed at the amateur level since turning pro in the spring of 1986.

"I haven't played tournament golf for a while, so I'm looking forward to getting out and playing golf for three days in a row," he said following Monday's practice round at YCC. "It's going to be interesting."

Over the past 20 years Pearsall has served as an assistant pro at Lake Hills in Billings and also spent 10 years as the executive director of the Washington-based Pacific Northwest Section PGA.

"I just want to have fun," Pearsall said of playing this week. "I want to go out and play good golf. My dad (Gary) is caddying for me so that will be a treat."

Pearsall, a graduate of Billings Senior and Eastern Montana College (now MSU-B), has been the foundation director for St. John's Lutheran Ministries in Billings since April 2005.

Pearsall history

He was an assistant pro at Lake Hills from 1986-93 before moving to Olympia, Wash., for an administrative position with the Pacific Northwest Section PGA - including 10 years as its executive director.

Pearsall moved back to Billings with his family in September 2004.

After applying to the United States Golf Association, it's typically about a two-year process to regain amateur playing status, he said.

With the Pacific Northwest Section PGA, Pearsall was involved with running tournaments throughout the Northwest, along with trade and merchandise shows.

His office also helped establish a First Tee facility for young golfers in Olympia.

"Most of my golf was in charity fund-raisers and fun Pro-Ams," said Pearsall. "I haven't played competitive golf for quite a while."

Pearsall, however, has the lowest handicap index in the tournament - a minus 2.9 - and is considered one of the favorites. He tees off No. 10 at noon today.

"My expectations aren't great," he said. "But if I play decent, I can compete."

The Mid-Am is for Montana State Golf Association members who are age 30 and over.

One of Pearsall's playing partners during the practice round was his longtime friend Craig Hurlbert of Hamilton.

Hurlbert was the starting point guard as a senior on Billings West's 1980 state championship basketball team.

"It's been 25 years since I've played here (at Yellowstone)," said Hurlbert, who will be appearing in his first Mid-Am. "What (this week) means to me is just my life is coming full circle.

"I have so many great memories of growing up in Billings," he added. "I would not change my childhood one bit, and to come back is a lot of nostalgia. Jerry and I are going to go to a Mustang game (Monday night) and just kind of take in the city. It's going to be a lot of fun."

For the past five years, the 44-year-old Hurlbert has served as president and chief operating officer of a Houston, Texas, company called TAS, which builds large air-conditioning systems and ships them all over the world.

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He said he moved his family to Hamilton 1 1/2 years ago, but still commutes to Houston every other week.

Hurlbert's company is providing the air conditioning for The Palm Tree project in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. That offshore development is being touted as one of the world's most exclusive commercial and residential areas.

"It's the world's largest air-conditioning job ever," he said. "It's a very exciting project."

Hurlbert's golf isn't too shabby either.

He finished in a tie for fifth at last month's State Amateur at Missoula Country Club.

Rob Logsdon, who claimed his first major Montana title as an adult last year when he won the Mid-Am at Riverside Country Club in Bozeman, is no stranger to YCC

Logsdon, who grew up in Helena and moved to Kalispell in January, played in the Junior Boys America's Cup event at YCC in 1987. He placed fourth at the State Amateur there in 1990 and tied for 10th in 2000.

"I like Yellowstone," said the 35-year-old Logsdon. "It's a good course for me. It's fairly long. It's got really good greens. It's in pretty good shape, and it's a fun golf course to play."

At last year's Mid-Am, Logsdon outlasted Mike Williams of Helena and Ron Garland of Bozeman in a sudden-death playoff. He won out against Garland with a 6-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole.

"I felt a little bit of relief and a lot of satisfaction in finally getting it done," said Logsdon, who is a loan officer with Mountain West Bank.

He was a two-time state juniors champion and also won an individual state title while competing at Helena Capital.

Logsdon, who plays to a minus-1 handicap index, was a collegiate golfer at Pacific University in California and Washington State University.

Hometown golfers have a history of success when it comes to competing at the Mid-Am, with five of the last seven champions cashing in on local knowledge.

Included in that group are Drake Webinger, the 2001 winner at Laurel Golf Club, and Dan Brown, the 1999 champ at The Briarwood.

In fact, hometown golfers were the titlists for five straight years from 1999-2003.

Brett Bennyhoff won in Great Falls in 2000, Gary Koprivica prevailed in Missoula in 2002 and Steve Williamson came through in Shelby in 2003.

Two golfers from Helena, John Reeves and Logsdon, have kept local players out of the winner's circle the past two years. Reeves won in Butte in 2004, while Logsdon was victorious in Bozeman last year.

Besides Logsdon, former champs Reeves, Bennyhoff, Williamson and Brown are entered this year.

YCC will be hosting the competition for the third time in the 20-year-history of the Mid-Am. The tournament also made stops at the private West End course in 1989 and 1996.

A Billings golfer, Ed Doerffel, triumphed in 1989, while Jon Heselwood of Missoula was the victor in 1996.

Nearly two dozen golfers from YCC are entered in this week's Mid-Am - with Jim Gallup and Cal Stacey two of the more prominent players.

Gallup placed third overall when the Mid-Am last stopped at his home course in 1996. Stacey placed in a tie for fourth with Verle Davison of Columbus.

Missing from the field will be Jeff Ballard of Billings, who set the course record at YCC last summer with a 9-under 63 from the white tees (6,662 yards). Ballard, however, will be playing in the Energy Cup tournament this week at Bandon Dunes in Oregon.

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