Josh Whalen has put his professional future on hold to chase another dream
(Lyndon Goveas/Supplied Photo)
By Doug Graham of The Whig Standard
is placing playing professionally on hold in order to follow his dream of playing for Canada's national golf team.
The 22-year-old Whalen, after a stellar four-year collegiate golf career at Ohio's Kent State, ended the year as the No. 4-ranked amateur player in the country.
The highlight of his summer play was a third-place finish at the Canadian Amateur.
By moving up the Golf Canada rankings, Whalen found himself in a position to get on the national squad.
"It was always a goal of mine to be on the national team. Dating back to junior golf, I was trying to make it on that developmental team that they had, but I was never quite able to crack it," Whalen said.
"To delay pursuing professional golf to have a year with the national team and [head coach] Derek Ingram and all the other resources they provide you with was kind of a no-brainer for me."
He does plan to play professionally, but that step will come later.
"Professional golf is always going to be there no matter what. There is no rush in trying to get there," said Whalen, who would also consider being on the national team young pro squad in the future.
Corey Connors, who is a Kent State graduate, is now on the young pro squad. So, too, is Bath's Augusta James.
Whalen's play with the national team will begin in January in Australia.
"Two or three of us will be playing two really good amateur events in Australia which will be really cool," Whalen said.
The schedule comes back to the United States in late January, when Whalen will be teeing up at the Jones Cup
in Georgia. The full schedule for the national team isn't in place yet.
"A lot of amateur events all over the world. [Golf Canada] is trying to figure out which ones fit best," said Whalen, who will receive partial funding from both Golf Canada and Sports Canada.
Whalen finished up at Kent State in August. Playing collegiate golf, he believes, is the reason his game is where it is at today.
"It was somewhere I felt my game could become better and I could become the best player I could be by going there. It certainly worked out that way," Whalen said. "We played a really competitive schedule, which opened my eyes up to it. That's where I kind of realized I was able to play with some of the best players in the country because we were always playing against them.
"It wasn't a big deal to see them week to week, where at first it was, 'Holy, there is so and so.' We were always competitive and a good team."
Whalen's career for the Golden Flashes includes a tie for sixth at the Sunnehanna Amateur
and six top-20 NCAA finishes.
Always a good ball striker, Whalen said his short game has improved over the past year and that's led to more consistency in his scoring.
"I kind of struggled with my short game in past years. That's one thing that I got a bit better at and a little more confidence in," Whalen said.
"You don't have to rely on good ball striking as much. I was able to go out and play and not hit it that great but still put up some good scores."
Whalen, after a relaxing at home -- "My first time being home in the fall in a long, long time. It was so nice to enjoy some fall golf." -- did play with his national teammates Hugo Bernard
and Joey Savoie
, both from Quebec, and Chris Crisologo
of Richmond, B.C., in Argentina in November.
Whalen knows from being at the courses in Napanee and Bath that there is a keen interest in how he is doing.
"It is certainly nice to have that support," Whalen said.