Wiebe Quickly Warmed to Colorado
Tour player relishes upcoming Colo. Golf Hall of Fame induction
by Gary Baines
Mark Wiebe grew up in southern California where, as he says, “the high was 80 and the low was 70.” And he fully admits he doesn’t like cold weather.
Despite that -- and the fact that his profession as a PGA/Champions Tour player is far more conducive to a warm climate year-around -- Wiebe has made Colorado his residence since the mid-1980s.
“Denver is home,” he said in a recent phone interview. “All our kids were born in Denver. We feel part of what is going on. We’ve just really enjoyed living there and making it home.”
And the roots Wiebe has laid down over the last quarter-century haven’t gone unnoticed in the Colorado golf community. If there was any doubt about that, his recent election into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame should put that thought to rest. Wiebe and three other current or past fixtures in Colorado golf -- PGA professionals Kyle Heyen and Bob Doyle, and the late Paul Runyan -- will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on June 12 at Denver Country Club.
“It’s the nicest thing that has happened (to me) in so long, I can’t even tell you,” said Wiebe, who’s won twice each on the PGA and Champions Tours. “I didn’t know I was even being considered, so it was a great shock. I’m totally honored and humbled.”
The Hall of Fame vote came just a few months after Wiebe’s son, Gunner, likewise received a significant Colorado golf honor, being named the CGA’s Les Fowler Player of the Year for his 2010 accomplishments in the amateur ranks. Gunner finished second in the HealthOne Colorado Open -- the best showing by an amateur there since 1997 -- and won the CGA Match Play title with Mark caddying for him (pictured) at CommonGround Golf Course.
Mark Wiebe and his wife Cathy moved to Colorado after becoming familiar with the state when Cathy had some family here and Mark had a Colorado-based sponsor.
“We thought, ‘what a great spot to raise kids (Taylor, now 24; Gunner, 22; and Collier, 18),’” Mark said. “And it’s still the West, it’s a clean state, ecology-minded and a young city. It’s a good atmosphere. We love Colorado and love Denver.”
And it didn’t take long for Mark to make his name more associated with Colorado golf. In 1986, the then-Littleton resident won the Colorado Open and donated half of his $13,000 check to Craig Hospital, the tournament beneficiary then.
“I had just won the Tour event (the Hardee’s Golf Classic) the week before so I was on a mini-streak,” Wiebe said. “I had just moved here and won the Colorado Open. That told me we’re going to win here now. (Donating half his check) was one of the coolest things. I just wanted to do it because it was the right thing to do.”
Wiebe went on to finish second in the 1987 Colorado Open and he became a regular at the International in Castle Rock, competing in the PGA Tour event a record 19 times in the 21-year history of the event. Twice, he placed in the top four at the tournament. He also helped the International develop the Pro-Junior Challenge, a unique concept which matched up worthy local junior golfers with PGA Tour players in a competition on Monday of tournament week at Castle Pines Golf Club.
Wiebe has done work with Special Olympics and the Gold Crown Foundation over the years, but more recently he and his family have taken on a Colorado charity, Adam’s Camp, which organizes therapeutic and recreational programs for kids with developmental disabilities and their families. Over the last five years, the tournament that Mark has hosted has raised roughly $260,000 for Adam’s Camp.
“When you do something like that at home, it means so much more,” Wiebe said.
As for life on tour, Wiebe won more than $4.3 million on the PGA circuit before injuries and a slump caused him to struggle with his game. But he bounced back in a big way on the Champions Tour, winning his first start after turning 50 in 2007, then another in early 2008. In all of his three full seasons on the Champions circuit, Wiebe has finished in the top 30 on the year-long money list. And this year, in his last Champions event, he placed ninth in the Ace Group Classic, inching ever so close to the $3 million in career winnings on the Champions Tour.
While once the Wiebes enjoyed family days on the par-3 course at Cherry Hills Country Club, the kids are largely grown now. Like their dad (San Jose State), all three are either students at, or a graduate of, California colleges. But if Mark even mentions the possibility of leaving Colorado, the kids are quick to dissent.
“They say, ‘You can’t move; this is our home,’” Mark notes.