Within the last month, Lacombe’s Brady McKinlay has made the game of golf look easy after three straight tournament wins in U.S. College competition.
McKinlay, who plays for the Utah Valley University Wolverines capped off the triple crown with a dominant 11-under-par performance in the three-day tournament to win the Grier Jones Shocker Invitational in Kansas on Tuesday. McKinlay won by seven strokes after he shot 66, 67, and 69 throughout the tournament.
His three-tournament run began in September when he took home the Ram Masters Invitational in Colorado with a nine-under-par finish. McKinlay shot an impressive 71, 66, and 64 throughout the three days.
After that, he continued his success at the beginning of October with a narrow seven-under-par victory in the Mark Simpson Colorado Invitational. He shot 69, 68, and a four-under-par final round to finish it.
McKinlay said his success began in the summer when he dominated in the Alberta Men’s Amateur Championship. He shot 11-under-par, five strokes ahead of the next-best player.
“I felt like if I kind of kept doing what I was doing in the summer I could do what I did this Fall. I didn’t expect three wins but I thought I could maybe win an event,” McKinlay said. “Most of it was just I guess maturity and a bit of confidence. I think in golf as you get older you understand yourself and your game a little more, which helps a lot.”
McKinlay explained they compete during the fall and spring semesters and his win in the Grier Jones Shocker Invitational capped off the fall season. The Lacombe, native won three of the four tournaments during the fall.
The first two tournaments he said had great competitors and added even though the event in Kansas had a bit of a weaker field it was a challenging course.
This is his second full year of college competition but is actually in his third year because during the 2020 school year they didn’t play in any tournaments.
McKinlay chose to go to school at Utah Valley University after he contacted head coach Chris Curran. He was drawn to the school after chatting with a teammate of his from Banff and after visiting the school.
“I really like coach Curran, he’s been great ever since I’ve been here and I kind of knew I’d be playing in every event. Still have good competition but I’d be playing lots of tournaments so that was a big factor because you always want to be competing to make sure you’re still getting better,” he said.
“I enjoy playing golf. I played a ton of golf in the summer and the more I play I feel the more comfortable I get.”
He won’t have to wait too long to compete once again as they will begin playing in tournaments again in February traveling across the U.S.
Golf wasn’t his first love as he played hockey growing up in central Alberta. He always played golf but Canada’s national sport took precedence until he turned 16 years old. That’s when he switched to golf full-time and competed more regularly.
“It got to a point where everyone in hockey was getting a little bit bigger and faster and at the same point, that was happening with my golf game got better,” he said.
“It came to a point where I enjoyed what golf could give me. I love the travel part of it getting to go all over the world for certain tournaments and then I just felt I really had a knack for it and was a satisfying game for me.”
Many players are playing in big tournaments at 14 years old and McKinlay didn’t start until two years after that. At that point, he had aspirations to play golf at university but always knew it would be tough to accomplish that goal.
This will be his last year competing at Utah Valley University. He will continue to take classes next year and earned an exemption to play in a professional tournament in Colorado. He plans on playing in professional golf next year but will be something for him to consider within the next year.
“It’s something I have to put a lot of thought into because turning pro and making it your career is a really big step,” he said.
“But with that exemption, it’s a really big opportunity for me. If I can take advantage of it and kind of kick-start my pro career. I’ve always wanted to play pro and this could be the way for me to get into that.”