Brady McKinlay, one of Lacombe’s most successful young golfers, is taking his talents to Utah Valley University (UVU) to compete in the NCAA Division 1.
“It is where I have wanted to be for so long. I didn’t really know before when I signed with the NAIA what the difference was fully, but once I got a better understanding it became clear the NCAA, especially Division 1, is more competitive and better. It is exactly where I want to play for the next three years,” McKinlay said.
The opportunity came after McKinlay’s coach connected him with the assistant coach at the University of British Columbia. From there, he was connected with the coaching staff at UVU which eventually led to him putting ink to paper — committing himself to the school.
“That is the best part, knowing that I am where I want to be and knowing that I will be playing against some the best amateur players in the world,” he said.
For McKinlay, having the highest level of competition, both with his competitors and teammates, is key to him growing his golf game which has seen great strides — particularly on the mental side.
“Over the last three, four, five years that I have played competitive golf, I have matured in the way I prepare. Starting to work with my coach definitely helped, especially in the short game. It can be something as little as hitting a bad shot, but staying positive or the way I prepare for the round. It is the little things that have added up,” he said.
McKinlay expects to continue to improve in Utah and looks forward to the extensive travel schedule of Division 1 sports.
“I love travelling for golf. Playing different courses even around here is fun, let alone a different state every week. The travel will obviously be a different with having to jump on a plane to places like the west coach or Hawaii but that is something I will get used to,” he said
McKinlay intends to move to UVU in August, in time for the Fall 2020 semester but he said he plans to go in the spring to get used to the area and try out some courses. That will help him get a feel for the host courses that he will play qualifiers in.
“We should have about eight to 10 players on the team and only five travel. Every week we will have qualifying, but the way I have been playing this summer I should have a spot in that top five,” he said.
Before moving, McKinlay will continue to compete in amateur tournaments.
“For 2020, I am not eligible for any junior tournaments so I will just be in the amateur ones. I am hoping to do a US amateur qualifier this year. I will be playing fewer tournaments but they will be higher quality because I will be playing with men,” he said.
He added UVU felt a lot like home, which was part of his decision to sign.
“I really love the school and there is three other Canadians on the team that I got to hang out a bit. We will have four to five Canadians next year. That is a major contributor,” he said.