CANMORE – Canmore golfer Matt Bean intends to let his game do the talking this season when he shoots for a spot on the PGA’s feeder circuit.
The 22-year-old linksman is turning pro and preparing for the Mackenzie Tour's qualifying tournament from May 24-27 at the Crown Isle Resort and Golf Club in Courtenay, B.C., where a top-25 finish would seal the deal.
“The biggest thing for me is I have more confidence in my swing and it’s more steady than it has ever been,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to giving it a shot.”
The young professional is relying on major strides made to his game recently, as well as some help from the community to drive toward his PGA dreams.
Bean’s been climbing up the national amateur ranks, competing at the likes of the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championships and representing Team Alberta on the Willingdon Cup Team at the 2019 Canadian Men’s Amateur.
He started golfing at age 11 and is a recent graduate from Minot State University where he played NCAA D2 golf, being selected as an All-Conference player and leading his team to its highest ranking ever of 52nd in fall 2018.
The talented golfer would have represented Alberta at 2020 Pacific Coast Amateur Championship as one of three qualifying players, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Many sports were axed during the tumultuous 2020, but for Bean, he never kept his eye off where his game needed improvement.
It’s not a secret that when most physical activities were being shut down last year, golf saw a massive surge in attendance records due to it being one of the best games allowing for social distancing.
Despite having to be on the ball to book a tee time – which was “next to impossible” – Bean honed his craft, playing tons of rounds in the early morning or late evenings at his home away from home at the Canmore Golf and Curling Club.
“I got to play more that summer than any other summer before and got a lot of time to work on my game,” said Bean.
During winter, he’s been pushing his skills to the limit on a simulator.
Of note, Bean said, is how he has changed the way he drives for better efficiency.
“I think a lot of people kind of knew me as a bomber and not really caring where it went, but I was either making birdie or bogey,” said Bean, adding he was hitting at least 330 yards, but has toned it back to the 290-310 yard range.
“Hopefully it puts me into a position to make birdie or par instead of birdie or bogey.”
He’s also sought out locals who’ve played professional, picking their brains and seeking advice on the pro life and making the grind at small tournaments.
It's not quite Mackienzie Tour or bust for Bean, he explained. He has backup a plan to play the Dakotas Tour should he not qualify, but the Mackenzie Tour is where he wants to be.
“It’s important to qualify for Mackenzie because that’s going to put me on a path that’s correlative to the PGA tour," said Bean.
“There’s no turning back now and I have no desire to turn back.”
Like most recently turned pro athletes, it can be hard financially to get going in the first year with start up fees, entry fees, travel funds and other related costs.
“The Mackenzie Tour is very opportunity-based, more so than money-based, and that’s kind of where the GoFundMe comes in,” said Bean.
In order to drive toward his dream, Bean started an online donation campaign called Matt Bean's Professional Golf Journey.
It's new to him, he said, but he had to come to terms with not being able to do it all by himself, so he has reached out to the community to join him on his journey as a pro.
“Now, I’m looking for sponsors and donors to invest in me and help me out with getting through this summer comfortably and being able to play all the tournaments I need to, to get my name kind of to that next stage of professional golf,” he said.
"And all I have to do for myself is play well in those tournaments."