Manager turned Coach: Shawn Taft to head up Blue Jay golf team
The Jamestown High School golf team kicked off practices on April 11.
As the start date for the 2022 Class A boys golf season got closer and closer, Jamestown High School Athletic Director Jim Roaldson was getting more and more anxious about the lack of head coach applications on his desk.
Finally, with no time to spare — Roaldson's prayers were answered.
Jamestown Country Club General Manager Shawn Taft was recently hired to head up the Blue Jays golf team this spring. The Jays have had three different head coaches in the last four years.
John Samuelson headed up the Blue Jays in 2019 while Jason Carroll took over the squad in 2021. The Jays did not have a season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"My name got thrown into the ring about 10 days ago," Taft said. "I've been asked a couple of times in the past but unfortunately with my schedule at the Country Club, it wasn't something that we could make work.
"(This year) Don Walz said that if need be he would step in just so the program could stay afloat ... I talked to a couple of the other parents and then made contact with Jim Roaldson. I met with the Jamestown Country Club and we decided that we could make it work for this season, so that's what we are doing."
It remains to be seen if Taft will head up Blue Jay teams in the future, but if nothing else, the Blue Jays are pretty excited to have the golf pro aboard for the next nine weeks.
Taft has been swinging a club himself for most of his life. Growing up in Billings, Montana Taft was a member of Billings Senior High School's two team state championship golf teams and one state runners-up team. In 1984 Taft was crowned the individual state champ in Class AA.
Following his successful prep career, Taft was awarded a golf scholarship at Grand Canyon University. He won the regional championship in both his junior and senior year.
Prior to accepting the country club general manager position in 2019, Taft, himself played professional golf and earned the titles of golf pro and club pro. The new Blue Jay head coach also worked in retail golf for 10 years.
For the last three years, Taft has not only been keeping the grounds clean and trimmed but has also been working as a golf swing instructor — helping people of all ages and experience levels better their golf game.
Contributing to the golf need at the prep level was really just another way to be involved in the sport for Taft.
"We talked with the kids and their parents Sunday night about our expectations and what we are trying to do," Taft said.
The Blue Jays kicked off their official practices on Monday and are set to see their first competition on April 18 at Tom O'Leary golf course in Bismarck.
"We're just going to hit balls in the net and let everybody get their body swinging in the right direction and get their bodies used to swinging a golf club," Taft said.
The Jays are coming off a sort of disappointing end to their 2021 season. At the 2021 WDA regional contest, the Blue Jays wound up falling one position short of qualifying for the Class A state tournament.
Jamestown placed seventh with a team score of 347, four shots back of Dickinson -- the final team qualifier -- in sixth at 343.
Of the six Blue Jay golfers who teed off at the 2021 West Region Meet, three will be returning for the Blue Jays this season.
"We're going to try to get the program back to the state tournament," Taft said. "I am confident that we can get that done if we get everybody on the same page working toward the same goal, which I think they are all going to do."
Junior Andrew Walz missed a good portion of his sophomore season, but ended up shooting an 87 at WDA. Easton Romsdal and Jed Truax were in the mix of the Blue Jays' top-golfers. Romsdal shot a 91 while Truax carded a 92 at the West Regional Meet.
JHS Class of 2021 grads Shea Carroll and Brad Burnham, were two of the top finishers at last season's West Region meet. The two were the only two members of the 2021 Blue Jay golf team to qualify for the state meet.
After 18 holes Carroll was tied for 12th with a four-over 76 -- the best round of his season.
Burham broke 100 by five strokes in the first go-around. Burnham finished his first and only state appearance with a two-round total of 186, putting him in 75th place. After completing a second lap Carroll ended up 80-even, to bring his two-round total to 156.
With Carroll, Burnham and Brooks Carroll all lost to graduation, it will come down to who executes the basics best when determining the Jays' top-five. Taft said he's worked with a number of the Blue Jays as some are members of the country club.
Taft's professional experience is a luxury for the team, the golf pro said he thinks he will be able to help the Jays out when it comes to their practice habits and developing drills that will help them better their rounds.
"I think they are excited about the year and excited about finding a little more success in their individual game than they maybe have in the past," Taft said. "