Birchbank Golf Course member Braden McKay lands an approach during the Birchbank Men’s Open last July. Below:  McKay

Birchbank Golf Course member Braden McKay lands an approach during the Birchbank Men’s Open last July. Below: McKay

McKay commits to WU Wildcats

Rossland native and Birchbank Golf Course member Braden McKay is taking his golf game to the next level.

Rossland native and Birchbank Golf Course member Braden McKay is taking his golf game to the next level.

The J. L. Crowe student made a significant decision on the weekend, when he signed a letter of intent to attend Wilmington University (WU) in Wilmington, Delaware on a golf scholarship.

“I’m definitely excited to go there,” said McKay. “And going there to golf is going to be good.”

The Grade 12 student began talks with Wilmington about three months ago, and attracted interest from NCAA schools in Texas and Boston as well. But after receiving offers from both West Texas A&M and Wilmington, McKay decided on the latter following talks with WU golf coach Harry Jennings and researching the program and its travel opportunities.

“I had to plan out which one and make the decision,” said McKay. “The schedule that Wilmington University plays was a lot more appealing than what West Texas played. West Texas mostly stayed in Texas and New Mexico but Wilmington they travel.”

The Wilmington University Wildcats golf team plays in the NCAA Div. II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC), which is comprised of 14 institutions from Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

However, a quick glance at its schedule shows the team playing in tournaments in St. Augustine and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Monterray Bay, Calif., and Waikoloa, Hawaii and that’s just in its fall season.

“They go to Florida, California, and Hawaii so that was pretty appealing,” added McKay. “They play probably the best schedule in Div. I and Div. II so they play against really good schools.”

In 2014-15, the Wildcats topped their Conference and then won the Atlantic-East Super Regional championship before finishing 16th in the nation at the NCAA Div. II Golf National championship in North Carolina.

While the 17-year-old McKay is still considered a junior golfer, he plans to play the more competitive amateur and pro tournaments this summer to prepare for the NCAA ranks.

With a 1-handicap, the B.C. golfer should fit in nicely on a 10-man Wildcat team rife with international flavour. The current team has six American-born players but also golfers from Scotland, Germany (2), and Denmark, and with four golfers graduating in 2016, McKay and another commit from Vancouver will add some Canadian content to the Wildcats.

Braden’s brother Tyler is in his Junior year on a golf scholarship at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, and has been a good source of information for his younger brother.

“I’m talking to Tyler a lot about the first year and stuff, and he’s given me a lot of advice, so it should help.”

McKay will start school in Wilmington in September.

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