For Mike Davis, it seems he was born for a life in the game.
"My dad joined Riverside Golf and Country Club in Portland when I was nine," Davis recalls. "It made it real easy for me to play."
Mike attended Grant High School, at the time the largest high school in Oregon, where he lettered for three years in track and four years in golf. Then he was off to the University of Oregon.
"I didn't get a golf scholarship my freshman year," Davis says, "but starting in my sophomore year I was on full scholarship."
Davis graduated from Oregon in 1968, and that was arguably his best overall year as an athlete. He qualified for the 1968 U.S. Open, played in the NCAA Championship for golf, and also competed in the NCAA Championship for volleyball.
Obviously a good player, Mike wasn't sure about his future after leaving the University of Oregon. "I could shoot a lot of good scores," he said, "but I was a streaky player. The good rounds seemed to come in bursts, then I'd go for a period where I couldn't shoot anything. I didn't seem to have the consistency." But he had real good support from his family, and he felt he just wanted to see where he could go with his game.
And he did show great promise in the early going. Mike was invited to compete in four consecutive Pacific Coast Amateurs, including the inaugural championship held in 1967 at Seattle Golf Club. He went on to win back-to-back titles - 1969, 1970 - in the Pacific Coast Amateur, and was a member of four Morse Cup Teams in the championship.
His winning ways continued, taking titles in the 1969 Payless Golf Classic, the 1970 Oregon Amateur, and qualifying again for the U.S. Open, this time in 1969.
In 1971, Mike tried his hand in the PGA Tour Qualifying School. "When I didn't make it," he says, "I really felt my days as a full-time amateur player had come to a close. I needed to get busy with the next steps in life."
He then began his life as a PGA club professional, first working as an assistant pro at Sham-na-pum Golf Course in Richland, Wash., then moving back closer to home to Columbia Edgewater Country Club, where he worked under Northwest legend Bunny Mason from 1971-1973.
Then in 1973 he became a golf instructor at Portland's Waverley Country Club, and he found his calling. "It turned outI had a knack for teaching the game," he recalls. "I really enjoyed helping people in general anyway. I probably would have been a doctor or dentist or something if I hadn't played so much golf."
Davis continued to play competitively, winning several regional club professional majors, including the Washington Open (twice), Oregon Open, Rosauers Invitational, qualifying eight times for the PGA Professional National Championship, and competing in the 1979 PGA Championship and 1992 U.S. Open.
But it was as an instructor where he would make his mark in the game.
While still in the Northwest, he would eventually be named the Oregon Chapter PGA Teacher of the Year four times and the Pacific Northwest Section PGA Teacher of the Year twice.
Then in the early 1990s, his son Brian went from a 10-handicapper to a +2 and played his way on to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas men's golf team. And this is when Mike's move to the Southwest began. "Yes, I followed my son there, and I felt the year-round dry weather would be conducive to pursuing a larger golf instruction career."
It turned out pretty well. After making Southern Nevada his new home, Davis would eventually be named the Southwest Section PGA Teacher of the Year twice and the Southern Nevada Chapter PGA Teacher of the Year an astounding nine times. In 2007 he became a PGA Master Professional of Instruction, and each year since then he's been named a Top 100 Teacher in America by Golf Magazine.
"Yes, I've been able to teach a lot of really good golfers," he says. "Peter Jacobsen when he was attending the University of Oregon, Andres Gonzalez (of Olympia) while he was playing for UNLV, and many others, but I don't particularly care what skill level the person is. I just want them to want to learn. To me, that's what it's all about. People who care about what they're doing."
His service to the game continued on all levels, particularly toward young golfers.
"A lot of junior programs I'd seen work well in the Northwest, I tried to apply the same concepts to programs in other areas," Davis says. What he was able to do was get everyone talking at the table, convincing the various associations in Nevada to work together.
He became heavily involved with the junior program of the Southern Nevada Golf Association, and would be its lead instructor for 13 years. He served on the SNGA board for over a decade, and the PGA Chapter board for 12 years, including serving as its president from 2007-2009.
And in continuing his history with the Pacific Coast Amateur, he has served as a Trustee since 2012 for the Pacific Coast Golf Association with the SNGA.
In 2014, he was inducted into the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame.
"I've been able to combine my love of the game with my career," he says, looking back. "It's hard for me to call it a job, because I just enjoy it so much. I've found that golfers as a rule are very nice people. I think the game lends itself to that."