BC’s Nolan Thoroughgood Weighing His Collegiate Golf Options

There's Lots Of Interest In Victoria Teen Nolan Thoroughgood Since Winning Last Summer’s B.C. Amateur Championship - Image Credit Jurgen Kaminski (JKam Photos)/British Columbia Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

SQUAMISH -- Nolan Thoroughgood has a decision to make and this one is a little more complicated than choosing what club to hit off the tee.

Thoroughgood, who last summer at age 15 become the youngest winner in the 114-year history of the B.C. Amateur Championship, has just finished Grade 11 and is being heavily recruited by universities on both sides of the border. The Victoria native has to decide this summer, even though he won’t be starting university until the fall of 2018.

“For me it’s about finding what fits me and obviously what kind of scholarship you get influences that,” he said after Tuesday’s opening round of the B.C. Junior Boys Championship at Squamish Valley Golf Club.

“I want to find a coach that is not going to be upset when I play bad because that’s golf and it happens. And I just want to try and figure out where I fit on the team. I kind of have a check-list that I do when I am assessing each team.”

Thoroughgood, a junior member at Royal Colwood Golf Club, said the process was a little overwhelming at first. “I had to send all these emails, I had to do research,” he said. “I was like, 'I don’t want to do this, I just want to go and play golf.' But because I've narrowed it down to which ones I'm talking to, it’s now just a matter of choosing which one.”

The process has also been stressful on Nolan’s parents. Like nearly everyone else, they were taken by surprise by his breakthrough win last summer and the doors it has opened for their son. “I think the first challenge for us is that it came out of nowhere,” said Nolan’s dad, Garth. “To be honest, it's like drinking from a fire hose for my wife and I because we weren’t really prepared for it.”

Nolan has already visited two U.S. schools and will visit another this weekend. “Once he had his success in the summer, we put together a resume and sent it out to a bunch of schools,” Garth said.

“Some we got feedback from, some we didn’t. We didn’t pursue anything really hard, we just figured we’d start the dialogue. There was some chatting through the winter. Since the spring Nolan’s results have been good and he has been playing well in amateur events and schools have really started to step it up. There are a lot more coaches trying to contact him, saying come visit, do this, do that.”

Thoroughgood figures to be B.C.’s most heavily recruited player this summer, but plenty of other players in the field this week in Squamish are drawing interest from collegiate coaches. Longtime University of B.C. coach Chris MacDonald and new Simon Fraser University coach Matt Steinbach are both in Squamish this week as they look to fill their rosters for the fall of 2018.

Both programs are losing senior golfers this coming year and have big holes to fill. Steinbach said when he attends tournaments he's not really paying much attention to scores or golf swings. He usually knows what a particular player is capable of on the golf course. He is more interested in the intangibles. “I look at how they carry themselves around the golf course, the in-between shots,” Steinbach said.

“I think that tells you a lot about character. How they interact with other players, with the volunteers, the marshals, all those little things add up because if you're gong to represent the university, I need to have faith that you are going to carry yourself properly.”

MacDonald echoed Steinbach’s comments. “I just like to see their demeanor,” he said. “You can usually see how their attitude is going to be and their personality. If you can watch them long enough, which is always the trick because there are so many players at these events, you can see how they do with a bit of adversity, how they handle things when they do hit it into the woods or hit one OB and how they respond.”

MacDonald is making a pitch to Thoroughgood, who in addition to being a promising golfer is an excellent student. “We are in a financial position to make an offer that will be comparable to what he would get anywhere,” MacDonald said of Thoroughgood.

But MacDonald knows the allure of some of the U.S. schools that have contacted Thoroughgood may be tough to compete against. For his part, Thoroughgood is trying to gather as much information as he can.

He has talked with a pair of fellow Vancouver Island junior golfers -- 2016 B.C. Junior champion Tristan Mandur and 2014 B.C. Junior winner Keaton Gudz -- about how they made their decisions. Mandur is going to the University of Utah this fall, while Gudz is heading to Oregon State University.

Both of those schools have had discussions with Thoroughgood. “It's always good to talk to people who are going to schools, pick their brain, what they think of the team, what they think of the atmosphere,” Thoroughgood said. “Keaton is heading to Oregon State and it was good to see how he kind of felt, how he made his decision on that. I have to form my own opinion, but everyone’s information helps.”