Jan. 30, 2006
He spends part of his time as the Head Golf Professional at Finkbine Golf Course. Another part of his day goes to coaching the boy’s golf team at West High School. And now he spends his free time working with the women’s golf team.
Welcome to the life of Iowa’s new women’s assistant golf coach, Chad Mejia.
“It’s not too bad but I have to plan my days pretty far in advance,” he joked.
With his first fall of coaching both the high school boys’ and the Hawkeye girls’ behind him, Mejia has settled into his new role.
“The best part is I get to learn along with them. Working with an experienced head women’s coach in Bobbe [Carney], I’ve learned a lot from her and the girls. I get to bounce things off the players and the coach. Some days I feel I’m learning more than them,” he said.
After graduating from Kirkwood Community College with an Associate of Arts Degree, Mejia became the assistant professional at Finkbine from 1994-1998. During that time, Mejia continued his career as a player by winning the Iowa Section PGA Apprentice Scholarship in 1997 and the Titleist/Foot-Joy Worldwide Apprentice Scholarship in 1997 and 1998. He also became a member of the Class “A” PGA of America in 1998.
In 1999, Mejia was named the Head Golf Professional, giving him such responsibilities as participating in the Golf Digest’s “Play Golf America” and “Free Lesson” program and organizing tournaments and corporate outings. However that wasn’t enough for Mejia. In 2001, he took over the boy’s head golf coach position at West High School, producing seven all-conference and eight academic all-league players.
Yet Mejia wasn’t completely satisfied. When a position opened with the Iowa women’s golf team, the temptation was too much.
“I’ve been at Finkbine for past 12-13 years. I’ve been around the golf teams, both men and women. After coaching the boys at West, it’s been an interest of mine to coach at the college level. When the opportunity presented itself, I had to take it,” he said.
With the fall season under his belt, things couldn’t have started better. The women posted their best scoring average in school history while embracing new ideas.
“At this point, the girls are really receptive to coaching, and they enjoy trying new things. They don’t feel like they know it all. They’re a joy to be around,” he said.
Carney is also enjoying the change.
“It really helps having one more person to work with the team at daily practice. It increases their contact time with instruction and coaching. It gives me a chance to bounce ideas off someone, and it gives the players an added person to bounce ideas off. I think that’s a huge benefit,” she said.
“We’re able to divide up our time a little more efficiently and have more contact with each player. That takes pressure off me. The people who might need attention are comfortable with Chad,” she said.
With five more tournaments this spring, Carney is excited about the team’s future.
“We must stronger this spring. We’re getting closer to our goal. I’d love to see it happen for this team because they’ve worked so hard. We just need to keep moving in the direction we’re moving. If that happens, we have to call it a successful year. I’d have to already call this a successful year,” said Carney.
When the golfers walk off the greens for the final time this year, Mejia hopes they’ve learned more than just how to sink a putt.
“I hope they learn a little bit more about the mental approach to the game. I want them to know golf is a game and it’s more important they be good later on in the game of life. I hope they remember the values I pass on to them. If that happens, I’ll feel very satisfied and proud,” said Mejia.
The Hawkeyes open spring competition March 2-4 at a tournament in Rio Verde, Ariz.
written by Jennifer Bissell, Iowa Sports Information