“It was the best part of any of those days on the course,” Johnlen Trianna said. “I always looked forward to playing with Mom in the late afternoon and will always remember those shadows on the hill.”
Now a PGA Assistant at Lansdowne Resort, Johnlen says he easily played 54-holes per day as a junior in Reston, Va. No matter how long the practice, there was always time for an evening nine with his mother, Jericho Trianna.
A decade later, golf is the center of Jericho and Johnlen’s lives again. In May, the two became the only known mother-son pair to attend and graduate a collegiate PGA Management Program. Neither could have imagined making golf their career, tackling classes together and working as PGA Assistants at Lansdowne Resort.
For 22 years in California, Jericho worked at Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac before taking an early retirement to take care of her mother in El Paso. She earned a two-year Economics degree in the evenings after work, but always had a personal goal of receiving a bachelor’s degree.
“It wouldn’t of made a big difference in my life,” Jericho said. “I had been successful in my career, so it was just a personal goal I had always wanted to accomplish. The timing was right, so I began looking at schools and New Mexico State allowed me to pursue a degree in marketing and join the PGM program. It was a bonus Johnlen was already there.”
Johnlen knew he wanted to play college golf after a successful junior career and a Texas state championship his junior year of high school after moving to Dallas. He received offers from Division II schools but was determined to walk-on a Division I program and chose New Mexico State.
“New Mexico had a great team,” Johnlen said. “There was one spot open for tryouts and I didn’t make it.”
The head coach asked Johnlen to stick around for another year before leaving the position. Mike Dirks, the new coach, ended the tryout process, hand-picking players and ending Johnlen’s chance of joining the team.
“He missed his original tryout by just one stroke,” Jericho said. “After that there were no more qualifiers. He was that close to reaching his goal of being a Division I golfer.”
A lover of crime drama like “Law & Order,” Johnlen was a criminal justice and psychology major. It wasn’t until Jericho joined the PGM program he became interested.
“I had absolutely no interest being a part of the program,” Johnlen said. “I did not want my life to revolve around golf, but I agreed to go to the informational meeting with her.”
When Jericho met with NMSU’s Director of PGA Golf Management Pat Gavin and Program Specialist Josh Salmon, the meeting began with bit of a hiccup.
“Johnlen and I were there and Pat and Josh began their PGM program pitch, speaking directly to Johnlen,” Jericho said. “I had to stop them 20 minutes in and say, ‘hey guys, this meeting is for me.’ Their jaws dropped and I must say they were pretty embarrassed.”
“I just said, ‘I’m sorry. Holy smokes, I’m sorry,’” Gavin said to the Albuquerque Journal. “I’ve never had that. I’ve talked to thousands of kids with their parents, and never was the parent the one coming to the program.”
Gavin didn’t know it at the time, but his mistake and subsequent pitch to Johnlen earned him two new PGM students.
“I told Johnlen ‘let’s just do this,’ let’s become PGA Professionals’” Jericho said. “It didn’t make any sense he was such a good golfer and wouldn’t join the program. He’d still get his degree, but this way when he graduated he would be a PGA Professional. What more could you want?”
Since Johnlen had been in school for more than a year, his class credits were close enough to Jericho’s two year degree where they became part of the same graduating class at NMSU.
“We took all of our PGM classes together,” Johnlen said. “She’s incredibly smart and was a great note taker, it helped me immensely. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. All of the students respected her, and we never had to worry about what people thought because it was never awkward.”
Jericho says one of her favorite memories during the program was when her and Johnlen completed their Playing Ability Test on the same day, first try.
“It was then the other students knew I was serious about getting this degree and we could play,” Jericho said. “It was an unusual situation going to college with your son, but it never felt that way.”
During this time, Johnlen dedicated everything to becoming a PGA Professional.
“I worked all the internships, every summer,” Johnlen said. “Once I knew I wanted to become a PGA Professional I put everything I had into it. I had the best partner in my mom to support me through the classes, work schedule and college life.”
The duo graduated in May 2015 and Johnlen decided he wanted to return to Virginia and work for Hidden Creek.
“I stayed in Las Cruces, but I understood why he wanted to go back to Virginia,” Jericho said. “This is home for him and while that job didn’t work out how he envisioned it, he’s done great things at Lansdowne.”
Johnlen began as the tournament assistant before quickly becoming the tournament coordinator at the Leesburg, Va. resort. Soon after, an open position fit Jericho’s interests and the resort’s needs. Lansdowne had their first female PGA Professional on staff, just a short time after hiring her son.
“Running tournaments is hectic and even now she’s still helping me keep all the ducks in a row at Lansdowne,” Johnlen said. “She’s amazing. She’s been able to keep the family together for so long, a great learner and dedicated to everything she starts.”
Throughout this saga, from job changes to cross-country moves, one thing is certain; Jericho has been the rock of the Trianna family. She’s been a clear role model, inspiration and loving mother to her son Johnlen, and two daughters, Jatonne and Shiloh.
As a young teenager, Jericho didn’t have an opportunity to play golf.
“As I was growing up I didn’t play because during that time girls just didn’t play golf,” Jericho said. “It wasn’t until I didn’t have a partner for tennis that I decided to go play golf. So I got some clubs and started playing, then never stopped.”
Jericho introduced golf to her children at a young age and Johnlen first swung a club soon after his second birthday. The Trianna family backyard was the ideal place for Johnlen to learn the game, complete with a putting green and bunker.
“The whole family would be out there hitting balls,” Johnlen said. “I never needed motivation to play as a junior. It was such a part of my life and I never stopped playing.”
Johnlen says his ultimate goal still involves competing on Tour, never wanting to stop playing. For now, he’s happy with how far he and his mother have come in the golf world since their summer evenings at Hidden Creek.
Two shadows on the hill, two PGA Professionals.