polo bedding Casey Jones fills big shoes at Blacksburg Country Club
No area club has produced more top flight young golfers the past 20 years than Blacksburg Country Club.
Led by the teaching of former pros Steve Prater and Brad Ewing, the club that rests in the scenic Ellett Valley has helped sparked the careers of such strong junior stalwarts as Lanto Griffin, brothers Jake and Ryan Mondy, Courtney Ellenbogen, Ty Olinger and others.
When Ewing decided to leave the golf game in April to join his family’s New River Valley business, Casey Jones said he didn’t waste much time applying for the vacancy. The 29 year old Richmond native landed the post and started May 1.
“The junior program here is exceptional,” Jones said. “When they hired me here, that’s what we talked about, and we’re trying to raise it up even better each year in an attempt to get a little bit better.
“Players like Hunter Duncan, Katie Turk, Katie Muscatello and Ben Carroll . they’re exceptional golfers. I had 50 golfers come out for our junior camp today. It’s amazing.”
Jones, who left his head pro position at Wexford Golf Club in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to come north, says he “couldn’t have landed in a better spot.”
Jones worked a side job during his college days at Randolph Macon and beyond at Midlothian’s Salisbury Country Club, where he tutored under highly regarded teacher Mike Hott.
“Mike works with all the top level juniors in that area and he’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever met. I also learned a lot of the operational things there under Mike and eventually found time to leave and go down to Hilton Head.”
Jones came to Blacksburg with his wife, Mary Grace, and 19 month old son, William.
One thing that Jones has quickly learned is that he’s going to have to become a Virginia Tech fan. Many of Tech’s upper level staff members, not to mention influential backers, are BCC members.
“When the Hokies are here, I’m definitely a Hokie fan,” Jones said, laughing. “I’m a big North Carolina Tar Heel fan,
but I will never root against the Hokies . except for when they play the Tar Heels.”
Jones said he went to some Tech football games in his younger years.
“I’ve met Mr. Beamer quite a few times and he’s an amazing man,” noted Jones, referring to retired Tech coach Frank Beamer, who plays a lot of golf at the club.
“I’m looking to grow here with the club and maybe potentially become a Hokie fan. And saying all that, my wife is a big [South Carolina] Gamecock fan, so I do have to worry about that as well.”
The recent Roanoke Valley Match Play Championship marked the return of former Cave Spring standout Matt Harman to area competition.
Harman, 29, who played collegiately at Radford, recently regained his amateur status from the USGA after spending seven months as a professional. The fun loving Harman still possesses a solid game, as his runner up finish in the featured Amateur Division to Galax’s Brad Chambers attested.
When quizzed about his short pro career on the West Florida Golf Tour, Harman broke into laughter.
“I made two checks for about $500,” Harman said. “I definitely lost money. It was fun to play with those guys who are just a lot better than you.”
The upside for Harman in Florida was he met requirements for his Masters degree at West Virginia University by working in ticket sales for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. He also spent some time in ticket sales at Colorado State University. Senior Open qualifier at The Homestead’s Cascades Course in Hot Springs. Senior Amateur and British Open champion, survived a 5 for 1 playoff at 70 to grab the second available spot. The playoff included elite amateurs Keith Decker (Martinsville) and Paul Simson, plus professionals Michael Goodes and John Inman.
Roanoke’s Justin Young, the VSGA’s 2015 Men’s Golfer of the Year, stands second behind Haymarket’s Scott Shingler in the current 2016 standings. Shingler leads Young by 62 points heading into this week’s VSGA State Amateur Championship at the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech.
Martinsville’s Keith Decker is 141 points back in fourth. Roanoke’s Kyle Bailey is eighth, 195 points back.
Blacksburg’s Mike Krulich paces the Senior division with 298 points, with Salem’s Jack Allara standing sixth. Blue Ridge’s Bill Nunnenkamp leads the Super Senior race by four points over Tazewell’s Charles Green.
Roanoker Matt Mankin cashed a check last week on the Sunbelt Senior Tour, which caters to players ages 47 and over.
Mankin, a Botetourt County native who won the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame men’s crown in 2004, tied for second place in the tour’s 54 hole event at Legends Golf Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Mankin shot 71 71 74 and tied for second at 3 over 216, 17 shots behind winner Kevin Johnson of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Mankin collected $1,