Gary Potter, Denver native and long-time Cherry Creek Valley resident in the Mayfair neighborhood, was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame before a packed house at Cherry Hills Country Club in June. Potter joined Colorado golf notables already in the Hall of Fame including Mildred “Babe” Zaharias, Hale Irwin, Paul Runyan and Jack Vickers.
Potter was voted into the Hall of Fame based on his attributes as a player, an innovator, administrator and leader for golf in Colorado. He won 10 state titles, won the Charlie Coe Invitational and was a Frontier Airlines Amateur champion. He was the Denver Country Club champion three times and was the club president in 1993. He won seven additional club titles at Lakewood Country Club, Bear Creek Golf Club and Thorncreek Golf Club.
As an innovator and leader in amateur golf he is best known for taking 14 state organizations supporting junior golf and amalgamating them into one highly effective statewide program as well as initiating junior golf All State teams in Colorado. Through his tireless efforts he was able to bring to the Denver Country Club the prestigious TransMississippi Amateur championships in 1980, 2001 and 2010. The 1980 TransMississippi event was extraordinary in that it featured such golf luminaries as Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara, Corey Pavin, Bob Tway and Tom Lehman who as professionals would go on to win 10 major golf championships among them. Potter also brought the Pacific Coast Amateur to the state.
Potter was athletic enough to play both basketball and baseball at Regis College until coaching great Joe Hall convinced him to concentrate on golf. After graduating from Regis College, he obtained a law degree from the University of Colorado. He served 10 years as vice president and trust officer for First National Bank of Denver and two years as vice president of Integrated Resources Corp. before going into the private practice of law.
A Family Of Athletes
He has a love of coaching kids in myriad sports and his four children all grew up as outstanding athletes. He would coach over 40 junior sports teams during his 33 years of helping kids enjoy sports.
“It’s all part of giving back to society,” Potter noted. “You meet people, then you see their needs and that’s what you do.”
Today two of his sons, Mike and Matt, are golf professionals while his other son Andy was a state champion in tennis and is now the tennis professional at Cherry Hills Country Club. All of his sons were at the induction dinner while his daughter Katie was too late into her pregnancy term to attend.
In an era in which the trend is to try to make golf easier and easier as a way of attracting and retaining players to the game, Potter has been at times a lonely voice for understanding that myriad challenges golf can present is the reason why so many people make golf a lifetime passion. Take away the challenge of golf and the sport will die rather than flourish.
Coaching The Next Generation
In the future Potter intends to pursue his love of teaching and inspiring kids in sports. He is involved in taking young golfers on rounds of golf with local sports legends such as former University of Colorado and Denver Nugget star Chauncey Billups.
“Teaching kids to compete at the best of their ability, whatever that may be, is what helps make this country what it is,” Potter said.
He also notes that you never know how far an individual may progress. He remembers playing with future two-time US Open champion Payne Stewart when he was a high school senior. Stewart at the time struggled to break 90.
Potter added, “Nobody knows what the future will bring for a kid, but if you instill in him a love of the game he can carry it with him his entire life.”