Martin introduced as new Sunnehanna golf proThe Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa. — Mike Mastovich The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
Jan. 13--Jason Martin recently walked through the hallway at Sunnehanna Country Club with his sons, who are age 10 and 8.
As the Martins made their way through the club they saw one legend of golf after another -- or, at least photographs of those players competing in the Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions.
"It's incredible and surreal to be in this position," said Martin, who officially was introduced as the 11th head golf professional at Sunnehanna Country Club on Friday. "Going through the first time and looking at all the photos from (Jack) Nicklaus and (Arnold) Palmer, Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson), Rickie (Fowler).
"My son, when he saw Rickie's picture, who he's a big fan of, he said, 'Daddy, you're going to be best buddies with Rickie Fowler.'
"Those are the types of thoughts that they have."
On Wednesday, Sunnehanna Country Club President Casey Craig had announced the hiring of Martin, a PGA Pro who had spent the past eight years at Wheeling Country Club, an 18-hole private club in West Virginia.
Martin emerged from an initial field of 55 applicants for the position that opened when Carl Seelman resigned in July after serving five years as the golf professional at Sunnehanna.
Craig said the field was reduced to 12, and then four candidates before Martin received unanimous support from a subcommittee and the Sunnehanna Board of Governors.
"We hired the PGA to do the search too," Craig said. "They were a great resource for us."
In addition to his time at Wheeling Country Club, Martin had been an assistant professional at Fox Chapel Golf Club near Pittsburgh, and he worked at three Florida courses -- Pine Tree Golf Club, McArthur Golf Club and Seminole Golf Club.
Martin discovered details about his family's ties to Cambria County over the past few months.
"My grandmother who is still living, and 95, spent about 40 years of her life here," Martin said. "She was a widow, along with her sister, who also was a widow, and they lived together right down the hill on Luzerne Street Extension.
"Throughout the process I learned that my great grandfather actually came over from Cresson and built some homes in the early 1900s back on the same street and eventually my grandmother moved into one of those homes."
Martin said his great grandfather was Gilbert Soisson of Cresson, and his grandmother is Edna (Soisson) Martin, who currently resides in North Carolina.
Now, Martin is part of the Sunnehanna family.
"It was an opportunity for me to checkmark a lot of great opportunities, beginning with the club," Martin said. "It has been a goal of mine my entire career to be a part of an operation that is considered a top-100 club in America. Sunnehanna is definitely that.
"It was also a goal of mine to be a part of a national invitational, whether that was a PGA Tour event, a national amateur or a junior event. The club also check-marked that for me. It is the longest-running national amateur. It's still a points contender for the Walker Cup qualifiers so you're going to get the best of the best in the country here."
Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.
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