After an impressive start to the Kootenay golf season, Granite Pointe’s Jordan Melanson will tee it up against the province’s best next week.
Melanson will join fellow Granite Pointe member Josh Coletti at the four-round 2011 BC Amateur Golf Championship at The Dunes Golf Club in Kamloops.
“If I go play well like I was in the tournaments in May and early June, I definitely can be up there,” Melanson says of his chances. “I’d have to play pretty lights out to win, but it would be nice to just go and play four steady rounds and qualify for Canadians [amateur championships].”
Melanson is one of the most promising golfers to come out of the local course in recent years. After an impressive junior career in the Kootenay, the L.V. Rogers graduate played his first year of college golf at the University of Montevallo in Alabama.
Though Melanson enjoyed his time in the southern States, off-season coaching changes and a program shake-up at Montevallo had him asking for a transfer. Last season Melanson landed closer to home where he played on the Simon Fraser University golf team.
“I chose SFU because it’s the same division (NCAA Division II), it’s a good school and it’s close to home,” the 20-year-old says.
Simon Fraser is the only Canadian university to play in the American college sports system (NCAA). The Clan play in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference which had the team travelling all over the Pacific Northwest, California and New Mexico.
In early September, Melanson opened the season with a solid outing at the Concordia Cavalier Classic in Prineville, Oregon. Shooting 74-74-77, he ended up tied for 19th. He continued to play well for the first half of the season and the junior was named team captain.
When winter set in, the change from the golf-friendly climate of Alabama became apparent.
“We had a bad winter so there were times when we didn’t see a golf course for weeks before a tournament,” Melanson says. “We were just hitting balls at the range in the snow… that made it pretty difficult.”
It was also in the second semester that Melanson found out what a grind it can be for a Canadian student athlete playing a warm weather sport.
With his team having to fly to tournaments in California and New Mexico, Melanson says the second half of the schedule was difficult. Travel day was Saturday, practice round was on Sunday, Monday saw athletes playing back-to-back rounds, and Tuesday was the third round followed by the trip home. Arriving back to school on Wednesday meant plenty of class time missed for the business and economics major.
“It’s a pretty crazy schedule,” he says. “You pretty much have to give up everything else but golf and school.”
Melanson finished the season with a roller coaster ride through the conference championship at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Amidst hail and horrible weather, Melanson shot 79-73-87 to claim 14th at the season ending stop in April.
Regardless of scores and results, Melanson says his first two years of college golf has seen his game improve tremendously.
“My short game has always been one of the best parts of my game because Granite Pointe is good for developing a good short game, but it’s really bad for long game,” Melanson says of the layout he learned on. “So when I went down to Alabama and I was playing all these huge courses, my ball striking was my weakest aspect compared to everybody else. That has been what I have had to work on really hard.
“I have a seen a huge difference in my game. Starting with my last semester at Montevallo a lot of things changed and I have been improving rapidly since.”
When Melanson returned home in May he went on a run of three straight tournament wins on familiar ground. On consecutive weekends he captured the Blossom Open at the Creston Golf Club in late May, followed it up by winning the BC Amateur Zone Qualifier the next weekend (held at Granite Pointe and Castlegar Golf Club) and finished his run with a win at the Sunflower Open in Castlegar in mid-June.
It’s that groove Melanson hopes to continue when he heads to Kamloops next week.
“I’m excited to play golf at that level,” he says. “I have been working about 55 hours a week lately so it’s been tough to find time to practice. But in the last few days it’s starting to come together.”
This will be Melanson’s third BC Amateur. His first shot came as an 18-year-old where he missed the cut at Duncan Meadows on Vancouver Island. Last year the tournament was at Castlegar where Melanson shot 68 in the opening round which had him one shot back of eventual winner Adam Svensson of Surrey. He finished 76-78-79 to place tied for 54th.
Coletti — who finished second to Melanson at both the Blossom Open and the zone qualifier — played for Missouri Valley College last season in Marshall, Missouri. The local also played in the BC Amateur last year where he finished tied for 65th.
The BC Amateur starts on Tuesday and finishes up on Friday.