As a senior at La Quinta High School, J.J. Qualkenbush has been part of the Balckhawks’ move to the top of the Desert Valley League boys’ golf standings for the last several years. But the 18-year-old has bigger plans for himself and his golf game in the coming years.
How did you start playing golf?
I was born in L.A. My father was a big athlete, and I took up the game of baseball. Baseball really helped me develop a swing.
My dad just kind of took me to the driving range for fun. Golf is something you have to be devoted to and really like. So I just really liked it. I’ve stuck with it ever since.
When did you come to the desert?
I came to the desert when I was 12 years old after living in Hawaii for three years. We came because unfortunately my grandfather passed away and we had to relocate to the desert here.
If you are going to relocate somewhere to play golf this isn’t a bad place to do it. When you got here did your interest peak in the game or were you already devoted to it?
I was devoted, but I was really still in the developmental stage. I knew it was going to take a lot more. I had my life devoted to playing professional golf and high school golf, because I see a lot of the kids just tearing it up, and I found that really interesting.
What’s the coolest thing that you have done in golf so far?
I’ve won 63 junior tournaments, just tournaments, scrambles, stroke play, whatever. I went to Scotland representing Team USA on the Euro Cup. It was Canada vs. Scotland versus the USA. We didn’t win, but it was fun representing.
Where did you play there?
I played it three years in a row. We just played a lot of courses around St. Andrews. One of them was Crail Golf Club. It was amazing.
Do you do anything other than play golf?
I have a girlfriend, but golf comes first always (laughs). School, academics, but I really am just devoted to golf.
I have thought about it thoroughly, but as of now, I’m thinking about turning professional and attending the Cal State San Bernardino Palm Desert campus so I can get some classes out of the way?
Turning professional right out of high school?
So you can play mini-tours?
Any tour. I haven’t really researched the tours yet, but I know there are tours and Monday qualifiers. It is in my heart. I am excited to do it.
You mentioned you thought about being a pro before. When did you get that in your mind?
Really when we moved to La Quinta. I saw a lot of pros, the courses just inspired me more. They are beautiful. So right when I was about 12 years old.
If it wasn’t golf, what would you be doing, whether it is athletics or academics?
I would probably still be playing baseball. Golf kind of took that way from me.
What do you do in school? What are you classes, your favorites?
Right now as a senior I love English. It’s just something I find easy and enjoyable. I am taking Econ (economics) right now. Third period is anatomy. Fourth period is psychology, which I find interesting as well.
How many different pronunciations of your last name have you heard?
Too many to be told.