Mason heads to PGA minority tourney

Published 11:31pm Thursday, May 9, 2013

Johnson C. Smith University sophomore Calvin Mason was one of three golfers on the school team selected by its coach to participate in the 2013 Professional Golf Association Minority Collegiate Golf Championship starting today in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

A year ago, however, Mason wondered if he would ever play college golf again.

Sophomore Calvin Mason competes as a member of the Johnson C. Smith University golf team with which he has made a significant impact this year. Coming off a two-year layoff from the sport, Mason still tied for the team lead in scoring. He also maintained a grade point average above 3.0 to help qualify for participation in the 2013 PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship starting today at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Sophomore Calvin Mason competes as a member of the Johnson C. Smith University golf team with which he has made a significant impact this year. Coming off a two-year layoff from the sport, Mason still tied for the team lead in scoring. He also maintained a grade point average above 3.0 to help qualify for participation in the 2013 PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship starting today at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Mason began playing the sport at the age of 7. Later, when he attended Nansemond River High School, he played all four years. He was also a member of the basketball team.

“But golf was my thing, that was my niche,” he said. “That’s what took me to the next level.”

So a college career seemed like the next logical step.

“I played my freshman year at Benedict College in South Carolina,” Mason said. “I tried transferring to a couple of other schools. I had a couple situations where it just didn’t work out for me, which took me away from the game for a couple years.”

But he was not idle during this time.

“I worked, I went to community college, just tried to stay as active as possible, tried to stay as positive as possible through that time, even though it was a really tough time for me,” he said. “It was probably the first time in my adult life that I had to face adversity and know how to overcome that.”

He always hoped to have another shot at attending a larger institution and playing golf, and he got the opportunity with Johnson C. Smith in 2012.

“This is the right place for me,” Mason said. “I’m really thankful to be here, because I was basically given a second chance, coming here. That’s what I’m taking it as.”

He had some rust to shake off as a golfer since, he said, “I probably picked up a club maybe 10 times in between those two years, and I’ve put in a lot of work to get back to where I was at, at that point.”

Golden Bulls head coach Williams Watkins has noticed, as Mason’s 10-over-par average is tied with sophomore teammate Brencis Stanford for best on the team.

“For one thing, he’s brought experience,” Watkins said. “We’re a young team without him.”

He said that Mason had a strong influence on his teammates.

“Just having another golfer that can push them and help them, as well, it was beneficial,” he said. “So, he definitely brought more competitiveness to the team.”

“In the (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association golf) championship, we were just 48 strokes out of second place, and Calvin helped us get to that point,” Watkins said.

The PGA Minority Golf Championship is open to minorities from any institution and currently has about 200 participants, but Watkins had specific criteria that his players had to meet before being eligible to go. First, theya needed to have an average score of at least 85.

“The score (criterion) is what I set in place, and also the fact that they’ve got great grades,” Watkins said. “All three of them are over a 3.0, they do well in the (classroom) and outside the classroom, which is what I had asked for them.”

Mason, a business management major, affirmed the importance that academics hold for him.

“I never really knew the significance of it, I didn’t really realize it when I was 18, 19 years old, but now I definitely do,” he said.

Mason, 22, and teammates Stanford and sophomore Johanan Edmeade will be competing on the Wannamaker course against Division I opponents.

For Mason, playing against elite competition is a significant motivator, but not the only one.

“The motivation I’ve used for (the event) is everything that I’ve been through to get to this point,” he said.

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