STELLARTON – You might say that Evan Callaghan has been prepping for this.
The Stellarton native spent the last two years studying and playing golf at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a Minnesota prep school, and has now committed to play next season at Grand View University, in Des Moines, Idaho. Grand View plays in the of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes in the Heart of America Athletic Conference – a separate entity from the NCAA.
Callaghan, who has narrowed down his field of study to pre-med or pre-engineering, describes the conference as being similar to “lower-end Division 1, or top-end Division 2, in terms of the calibre of golf played there.
“I really liked the city, and all the stuff that was going on at the school,” he said this week, during a 10-day visit home (his younger brother Ben also plays golf at Shattuck-St. Mary’s).
“I just hope I play well through university, and keep my grades up. School will definitely come first.”
Callaghan began playing golf around at the age of seven, playing at Eagle’s Chance or the now-closed Linacy Greens, and soon caught the fever.
“When I first started playing golf here with my brother, that’s all we would ever do,” said Callaghan, as he surveyed the snow-free, early March fairways at Abercrombie Golf & Country Club.
“We would be here from eight in the morning until nine at night. Our parents always pushed for us to work hard in school as well as athletics, and it paid off.”
A scan of the golf team’s roster at Shattuck-St. Mary’s includes players from the U.S., Taiwan, Finland, China, England, Japan, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia and, of course, two from Stellarton, N.S. “People come from all over the world to play here,” he said.
Tim DeSormeau, director of golf at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, said Callaghan has grown into a role model for the younger players.
“When he got here, he was super passionate about golf, willing to work and do whatever it takes.”
The coach added that Callaghan’s scholarship to Grand View gives the 18-year-old a chance to take another step up the ladder in competitive golf.
“They were the national champions (in 2017), so it’s an opportunity for Evan to compete at a high level.”
Callaghan, whose strengths are off the tee and around the green – he admits his iron game requires a bit of improvement – posted a victory last October in Florida, when he took individual honours at a tournament his school was taking part in. He shot rounds of 71 and 74 (a 1-over-par total) and had to roll in 10-foot par putts on the final two holes to win by a shot.
“It felt incredible, and it was kind of a relief, too. Our whole team was there and they were all excited for me.”
He’ll work with Nova Scotia’s junior golf team this summer, with the hopes of playing well enough to qualify for the team that will attend nationals.
“Definitely, my main goal this year is to make nationals.”