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Mee joins Montana golf program

03 Dec 2021 | 07:05 | Golf

When Montana women’s golf coach Kris Nord sends his 10 players out on the course at Sunbrook Golf Club in St. George, Utah, on Thursday morning for the opening round of the Lady Thunderbird Invitational, he’ll have a new resource at his disposal, something he’s never had before.

A second set of eyes, professional ones at that.

Jim Mee, who grew up in Libby, competed at Carroll, earned his stripes playing the mini tours in and around Arizona and is now an assistant pro at the Ranch Club in Missoula, has joined Nord’s previously one-person coaching staff.

“We encountered him a lot last year out at Ranch when we had practice, and I just thought it would be a perfect fit,” said Nord, who coaches a sport that requires plenty of one-on-one coaching during competition.

It’s a lot to handle for one person, who can only do so much with players scattered around the course, each dealing with her own adversities and issues.

“He’s put in time like he’s full-time, even though he’s part-time. He’s excited about it. It’s where he wants to take his career. I’m trying to get him going on that path and see what he thinks. He’ll really help.”

Mee supported himself for nearly a decade in Arizona playing on the mini tours, thanks to his short game. Give him a wedge or putter in his hands, and he can do with a ball what few others are able to do.

But that’s the technical side of the game. On Thursday, he’ll encounter players who need any number of things from him, from reading a green to overcoming back-to-back bogeys and other issues more psychological than physical. He’s well-versed on the subject.

“I’ve played a lot of tournaments and have probably experienced about everything, from playing really well, where golf is easy, to feeling like you can no longer play golf anymore,” said Mee.

“Golf is very different from practice to on-course competition. It will be nice (this week) to see what we can help them work on, what areas they need the most improvement.”

The son of career teachers and coaches, Mee slid into his new position easily and naturally.

“I’ve been around that forever,” he said. “I started chatting with Kris a little bit and it just kind of fell into place where it looked like I could help out a little bit. Everything kind of worked out from there.

“We’ve been working with the TrackMans and trying to get the full swings and wedges, and a little bit of chipping and putting, get it as dialed in indoors so when we go outdoors, we’ve got the work done.”

Mee arrived at Carroll to play basketball for Gary Turcott but quickly found a spot on the Saints golf team as well. He went all in on the sport after two years splitting his time between the two.

He helped Carroll win a Frontier Conference championship as a senior in 2012, then packed up his civil engineering degree and headed for Arizona to make a living from the sport.

“I got on a pretty good run there for a little while. It was fun, but it comes with a lot of travel and a lot of stress,” he said.

After eight years he got into the PGA program, then landed as an assistant pro at the Ranch Club, where he became accustomed to teaching every type of player, from kids just learning the game to septuagenarians trying to stay in it.

Since last month he’s been working more and more with Montana’s golfers.

“The girls are talented. They are very open to things and can make changes. Little tweaks are no big deal to them,” he said. “They do it three or four times and it feels natural and they are off and running.

“They are a lot of fun to work with. I’m just going to try to help out where I can help out and hopefully help them become better players.”