Jones Cup: Susolik settling only for success

Though most renowned for the work he does with a briefcase in his hand, Ed Susolik is also rather successful wielding a golf club.

An esteemed litigator who has netted more than $1 billion in policy-holder benefits for his clients over a 22-year legal career, the Newport Beach resident has also accumulated a string of victories on the links.

He will try to add another of the latter as a member of the five-player team representing Mesa Verde Country Club in the 13th annual Jones Cup on Wednesday at Newport Beach Country Club.

Susolik earned a berth in his first Jones Cup — a community tournament that pits five area clubs against one another for annual bragging rights — by winning the men's championship at Mesa Verde, where he became a member in 2011.

Susolik will be joined by head professional Tom Sargent, assistant pro Mike Fergin, senior champion Preston Murray and women's champion Sally Holstein for Mesa Verde, which has won four Jones Cup titles, including three in five years from 2006 through 2010.

"I've read about [the Jones Cup] every year in the Daily Pilot," Susolik said of his familiarity with the event, which has been won seven times by Big Canyon Country Club, including last year.

Susolik is also familiar with winning in all facets of his life. He has been named one of the top 100 attorneys in Southern California the last three years by Super Lawyer Magazine.

Outside of the courtroom, he has collected scores of tournament victories, including the Southern California Golf Assn. Public Links Championship in 2009 and an estimated handful of Costa Mesa Country Club men's championships.

"I like to play in competitive amateur tournaments and competing at high levels of golf," said Susolik, who was a walk-on member of the USC golf team in the 1980s and played three years on the professional Ben Hogan Tour from 1992-95.

"I believed that I could develop my game to make it to the PGA Tour," Susolik said of his days as a pro.

But three years into his five-year plan to reach the PGA Tour, Susolik got cancer. After losing 38 pounds during chemotherapy that rendered him cancer-free, he elected to return to the law.

His hard-charging tenacity on behalf of his clients earned him the nickname Rhino, a moniker he has embraced. But Susolik said any recklessness associated with the single-horned beast would not in the least apply to his game.

"I think Rhino represents strength and perseverance and moving toward an ultimate goal," said the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Susolik. "I'm 49 years old, so I would say that I used to be a banger when I was younger. But now I play much more of a controlled game."

Susolik was born in the former Czechoslovakia and also lived in Switzerland and Spain. After graduating from the American High School in Madrid in 1981, he chose USC over Princeton, both of which offered full academic scholarships.

He earned bachelor's degrees in history, English and philosophy, before graduating second in his class from USC Law School.

He said friends convinced him to take a membership at Mesa Verde Country Club and he has thoroughly enjoyed his association with the club.

"It's an absolutely amazing course and a wonderful membership," he said. "I've gotten to know Tom Sargent, who is a true legend in Orange County golf."

Susolik, who has five children, said he enjoys golf because it is the perfect blend of athleticism and mental toughness. He hopes to make it tough on his Jones Cup competition.

Also hoping to help Mesa Verde prevail are Sargent, the only golfer to have competed in all 12 incarnations of the Jones Cup.

Fergin was a member of the Mesa Verde quintet that won the event in 2010. A former pro at Newport Beach Country Club and Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine, he played in three PGA Tour events in 1997. He also won the now-defunct Newport Beach Open in 2001.

Murray helped Mesa Verde win the 2009 Jones Cup as the men's champion, while Holstein is representing Mesa Verde in the event for the second consecutive year. She was a member at Big Canyon for 30 years.

Holstein's game appears to be in order, as she carded a hole-in-one on a 130-yard, par-three No. 12 hole on her home course May 22.

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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