LA QUINTA, Calif. – Turns out, joining the military can be a great place to find your golf game.
At least that's the case for U.S. Army Specialist Jordan Massey, a 25-year-old Explosive Ordinance Disposal Soldier currently stationed out of Fort Hood in Killeen, Tex. After an opening round 68, he leads the Championship flight of the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship by one shot at PGA West.
Massey played college golf at Clayton State, a D-II school in Atlanta (and was teammates with Will Wilcox, who is now on the PGA Tour). He went pro, but after 18 months determined it wasn't working.
"My head wasn't really on straight," he said. "I wasn't ready for it."
So Massey joined the army in 2011, and didn't think golf would be in his future.
"I knew I wasn't going to be playing a lot of golf," said Massey. "I didn't touch a club for two years. I was burnt out. I was focused on the Army and my wife & kids."
Then a friend from home mentioned the All-Army Golf Team, which Massey had never heard of. It didn't take much more than that for Massey to realize the golf itch was back and he applied for a tryout.
"I had to rebuild my game over six months," he said. "Lots of late days building bit back up." "I fell back in love with the game."
He was also away from the game long enough to get his amateur status back. After being one of 13 selected for the tryout, he won the event. Then he took second in the All-Army tournament. Then he won the Armed Forces Championship by ten shots and qualified for the USA Military team, which went to Bahrain to compete in the World Military Golf Championship.
The U.S. team won the event, led by Massey, who was the individual silver medal winner.
Massey with his team on top of the podium in the 2014 World Military Golf Championship in Bahrain.
Massey won six out of nine events on Am Tour in 2014-15, including the Red River Shootout at Winstar Resort in Oklahoma, a two-day major tournament. Between his victories on Am Tour and on the military circuit, he's decided that when his contract with Army is up in December, will try the pro ranks once again. He's in the process of finalizing sponsorship and tour plans and the Florida native will move with his family to Orlando in December and begin competing in 2016.
The week after Nationals, Massey leaves for South Korea to compete in the World Military Games (Oct. 4-7), an event with 6,000 athletes from armed forces from around the globe. He plans on sticking around long enough to catch some of the Presidents Cup.
But first, there is business at hand in La Quinta. In Round One of the National Championship, Massey leads the Championship flight, but there are plenty of players on his tail. Brandon Johnson, from Beavercreek, Ohio, is one back, followed by Shane Rutherford (-2) and Ava Lourenco (-1).