Thunder Bays Walter Keating Jr. Follows His Dream
by Scott A. Sumner
If you are out playing golf at Whitewater Golf Club in Thunder Bay it is likely you will see an imposing 6 feet 7 inch, 255 pound golfer out on the course, riding his cart with a large tour bag attached. Walter Keating Jr, age 29, is on the course practicing, his daily routine when at home in Thunder Bay. He is the touring professional for Whitewater and has the course logo on his shirts and bag. This day was his last before beginning a 7 week stint on the Dakotas Tour. "I start with a 3 day event in Iowa and it will be off to other points in South Dakota and Marshall Mn." smiles Walter Keating Jr. The aspiring touring golf professional will travel from event to event in a 5th wheel trailer supplied by Thunder Bays Smiths RV Centre. Last season Keating had some good success on this tour with 7th, 9th and 2nd place finishes. These events feature 70 pros and amateurs and can include some ex PGA or Nationwide Players. The weekly entry fee is $400 to $500 US but the purses are large enough to include a $10,000 to $20,000 first prize. Keating will act as his own caddie at these events. Winning some prize money helps the golfer continue to pursue his dream of being a successfull touring professional who earns his living on the golf course in competition. "There is no better feeling in the world than when you get the competitive juices flowing in a competitive environment," says Keating.
Walter Keating was born in St Johns, Newfoundland and grew up in Long Harbour, Newfoundland. He moved to Thunder Bay with his family and started golfing at age 14, soon practicing all day out on the fields near Chapples Golf Course. "My mom would drop me off in the morning and Id practice all day. I had to get better because I didn't want to lose to my friends," smiles Keating. The aspiring golfer joined the Fort William Country Club at age 16 and was a scratch golfer by age 17. He attended Youngstown State University (YSU) Ohio on a golf scholarship from 1994 to 1998 and competed in the NCAA Division 1 on the first team graduating with a double major in Marketing and Finance. Since then it has been 7 years of tournament golf including playing the Canadian Tour from 1999 to 2003. His results were not good there, making a few cuts and the expenses were high. To play the Canadian Tour today you are looking at at least $32,000 per year so it is quite expensive.notes the young pro. Keating has also played on the South America and South Africa tours as well as the Golden Bear Tour in Florida.
This past year has seen Keating try to qualify for the PGA Tour at Stage 1 at the TPC course at Heron Bay, a layout he was quite familiar with having lived near the course in the past. He also tried to qualify for the Canadian Tour again and came close until "getting in my way". Earlier this year he tried to Monday qualify for the Nationwide Tour and came close missing by 1 stroke on one occasion. Keating then would caddie for long time friend, Thunder Bays Alan McLean, who is a regular on the Nationwide Tour.
During our playing interview the powerful Keating played the 580 yard number 3 on the Forrest 9 at Whitewater with a 335 yard drive into the wind, a three iron almost 235 yards that landed in the sand trap and then with a close sand shot made the putt for a sand save birdie. It sure helps to be long!
Walter Keating is married to a Thunder Bay girl and is a new father. "My wife is a saint. I couldn't pursue golf without her full support. In the past she was my caddie and is always understanding and supportive." smiles Keating. "I'm pretty lucky. I get up in the morning and I enjoy what I do. How many people can say that." I agree. It will be fun to follow the progress of this aspiring golf professional from Thunder Bay who continues to pursue his dream.