Chris Maletis' grandfather came to this country from Greece. He was not familiar with sports, but he did start playing golf. When Chris was 5-years old, his grandfather sawed off a club for him and began taking young Chris with him to the Gearhart (Ore.) Golf Links. His grandfather loved the game, and Chris was fond of his grandfather, and those early memories stayed with him.
A natural athlete, Chris played third base in baseball and quarterback in football while attending Sunset High School in Portland, Ore. He only dabbled in golf. In fact, he didn't own his first set of golf clubs until after college.
At age 25, he joined Portland's Columbia Edgewater Country Club, mainly for business reasons, and struggled along as a 14-15 handicapper. He discovered he could hit the ball a mile and was a great putter, but couldn't do anything in between. So he took his first lessons from Jerry Mowlds, who was then the PGA Head Professional at Columbia Edgewater (and would later receive the PGA Section Teacher of the Year Award). Maletis got his handicap down to a five.
Maletis married his wife, Kristi, in 1983. Kristi's uncle was the legendary Johnny Skeadas, who was a top senior golfer in Georgia, winner of six Savannah City Amateurs, two Georgia Senior Amateurs, and selected the GSGA Senior Player of the Year three times. Chris would travel to Georgia to visit Skeadas, who routinely beat Chris on the golf course. But when Maletis turned 40, Skeadas told him he could be a really good senior player. Skeadas introduced Maletis to another legendary instructor, Jack Lumpkin at Sea Island, Georgia, where Maletis continued to hone his game.
By this time, Chris had joined Portland Golf Club, and would win the club championship in 1993, which exempted him into that year's OGA Tournament of Champions. He was paired with Ken Forster (another PNGA Hall of Famer) in the final group on the last day, and played through the pouring rain for his first significant victory.
Maletis would then go on a stretch of dominant play not seen for a while. He immediately qualified for both the 1994 and 1995 U.S. Amateurs, playing a practice round with Tiger Woods in the '95 championship at Newport (R.I.) Country Club; as well as qualifying for the 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur, which helped him earn a berth on the 1995 USGA Men's State Team Championship.
When he reached his early 40s, Chris began to make plans for his future golf endeavors. He and his brothers owned a successful beer distribution company, and Chris transitioned some of his responsibilities to his brothers, allowing him to spend more time with his family and play more golf.
Maletis considers his most important victories to be the 2002 Oregon Senior Open, and the 2009 Coleman Invitational Senior Amateur. His defining moment? Sinking a two-and-a-half foot putt on the 18th green at Pumpkin Ridge to qualify for the 1994 U.S. Amateur - he recalls that his heart was pounding, but his head was clear, and he found out that he played better under pressure. Also, when he qualified for the 2002 U.S. Senior Open, he walked to the range and saw his name on the placard reserving his hitting spot, he realized he had reached another level of play. Nervous on the practice range, when he started his round he realized he could hit the ball farther than most of the other players, and so felt he belonged.
In 2002, Chris and his brother Tom bought Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora, just south of Portland. His hope for the future of the game is that we find a way to keep the game enjoyable and easy to play for the recreational golfer.