CLASS OF 2019: Golf great Erik Flores to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
At an early age Erik Flores knew he wanted to be a professional athlete.
He wasn’t sure which sport he’d go pro in, but knew that was the path he wanted to take.
After discussing several options with his father, they decided golf was the best fit and from there began Flores’ highly decorated journey from the course at Alta Sierra Country Club to the professional ranks.
Growing up in Alta Sierra he developed his skills at the local course, often practicing with the Nevada Union team when he was still in grade school. He was younger, smaller and couldn’t hit the ball as far, but knew if he could find a way to compete with the high school players he’d put himself ahead of the other golfers his age.
“Alta Sierra was the home course for Nevada Union and when I was growing up (former NU coach) Hank Davidson would let me play with the team,” Flores said. “So, I had been playing with the team since I was like 10 years old, maybe even sooner. Hank would let me come out and practice with them, which was really cool because I looked up to a lot of those guys.”
Flores said Nevada Union standouts such as Matt Larsen, Jared Perry and the Weiss brothers (Adam, Grant and Mark) all helped forge him into the golfer he became.
“That community of guys as a whole I really looked up to and they helped me get better at golf, and challenged me,” Flores said. “They all hit it further than me and were all bigger than me, so I had to get good at other things, and that really helped… Those guys really helped me along and showed me the way.”
By the time he was 12, Flores was competing among the best in the world in his age group, and when high school rolled around he was well on his way to be being one of the top players in the nation.
Flores, who graduated from NU in 2005, played three years on the Miners squad, earning three team MVP awards and was named the Sacramento Bee Player of the Year his senior season. That same year he won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I individual championship, joining Matt Larsen and Logan Lowe as the only Miners to achieve that feat.
“He was dynamic,” said Davidson, adding Flores is at the top of the list when it comes to NU golfers. “He could put the ball wherever he wanted. He had a very good short game and a very good long game too. All the practice paid off for him.”
For his achievements on the golf course as a Miner and beyond, Flores is being inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame April 27.
“I’m really thankful and very honored, especially being the only golfer,” he said. “It’s cool to be recognized outside of some of the main sports. Overall, just a lot of gratitude. Gratitude for the community I grew up in. The school in general carried a lot of excellence and I was just so blessed to go there.”
Flores said he looks back on his time at Nevada Union fondly, noting he remained focused on winning but also had a lot of fun with his teammates.
In addition to his efforts for the Miners, Flores also excelled on other junior and amateur circuits. He regularly won junior and amateur tournaments all over the country, was the Future Collegiate World Tour’s Western Regional Player of the Year and a First Team All-American in 2003. He was also a two-time American Junior Golf Association All-American (2003, 2004), and was the 2004-05 National Jr. Golf Scoreboard’s No. 2 recruit in the nation.
For his efforts he received a full-ride scholarship to play for and attend UCLA.
Flores shined right away for the Bruins and earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors. He would go on to be the only UCLA golfer to earn All-Pac 10 First Team honors four times. He was an NCAA All-American three times, the 2008 U.S. Collegiate Individual champion, helped the Bruins win the 2008 National Championship and was a two-time team MVP.
After college, Flores achieved his dream of being a pro athlete and competed on the Web.com Tour from 2012-2015.
“It was a totally new experience to play for a living and not just for fun,” he said. “It was great. We traveled all over the world, went to a lot of amazing places, met a lot of amazing people and made some money. It was a lot of fun.”
While competing on the Web.com Tour, Flores made 18 cuts, notched three top-25 finishes and one top-five finish.
Knowing the impact an older and more experienced golfer can have on an up-and-comer, Flores has helped out with junior golf clinics at Alta Sierra Country Club as well as PGA Web.com junior golf clinics.
Flores has since changed career paths and is now an entrepreneur in North Carolina, where he is involved in a couple startups and is also a musician.
He expressed gratitude for the coaches he’s had over the years as well as the support he’s received from his family along the way.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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