Stinson focused as he prepares for graduation

Release Date: December 4, 2009

PLAINVIEW – When Kevin Stinson signed on to play golf for Wayland Baptist University, he had never seen the campus. He had never even been to Plainview or West Texas for that matter.

“I just flew in, and right off the bat there was some culture shock,” Stinson said. “All I saw were crop circles and a flat city, and I thought, ‘Oh boy.’”

The plains of West Texas are a far cry from his home in Mission, British Columbia, Canada. But Stinson wanted to play golf, and he admittedly didn’t have a lot of options at the time. A friend of his, fellow Canadian Jeff Dagg, came to Wayland the year before and told Kevin it had a good program with a good coach. Stinson contacted Coach Tom Harp and set things in motion for what turned out to be a good relationship between him and the school.

On Saturday, Stinson will receive his diploma along with 55 other undergrads and 32 graduate students during Wayland’s winter graduation ceremony. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. in Wayland’s Harral Memorial Auditorium.

Saturday’s graduation is the culmination of a four-and-a-half year journey that started when Stinson sent Harp a DVD of him playing golf.

“I watched his swing, and I just thought, ‘Wow. I’ve got to call this guy,’” Harp said. “I was on the phone talking to him while I still had his swing video in the computer.”

Harp was impressed not only with Stinson’s swing, but also with his demeanor and how he handled himself on the phone. Stinson joined the team and quickly became one of Harp’s most reliable golfers. In his four years, Stinson set the school record for the lowest competitive round, 64, and lowest tournament scoring, 11 under par, en route to winning the Grand Canyon Thunderbird Classic in Phoenix, Ariz., in April 2008. Stinson owns the top three lowest-round scores in team history.

During his time at Wayland, Stinson also earned the Manning Cup, a team award for the member with the lowest tournament scoring average for a year. He was the second Wayland golfer to be named an Academic All-American. He was also named First-Team, Second-Team and Honorable Mention All American. He was an NAIA Champions of Character award winner and served as team captain during his senior season.

Although he no longer has eligibility to compete, Stinson completed his degree while working as the assistant golf coach this season, a role he says has been interesting. As a coach, Stinson is not only trying to teach guys he played alongside last year, but he must also deal with the cultural difference of a diverse group of golfers. On its men’s and women’s golf teams, Wayland has golfers from South Africa, Tanzania, France, Norway, Canada and Columbia.

“It’s different in the way people deal with situations,” Stinson said. “Not everyone reacts to things the same. I might raise my voice when someone does something wrong and some might say that is fine, but in other cultures you can’t talk to them like that.”

Stinson will continue to coach throughout the spring semester, getting a taste for what he eventually wants to do as a career. Knowing all along that he wanted to stay within the golf industry as a career, Stinson will graduate with a degree in business administration, specializing in marketing and management.

“It’s very general and can be applied to a number of different things,” Stinson said. “Wanting to stay in the golf industry, business relates to all aspects of it.”

Stinson eventually wants to work as a golf professional, teaching others how to play the game.

“I don’t think there are enough really good professionals out there who are willing to take the time to teach people who actually need it,” he said. “It’s not the most glorified job in the world, but you can help a lot of people.”

The teaching will have to wait however, as Stinson must first satisfy his desire to compete professionally. Once the spring semester ends, he will head back home where he plans to play on the Vancouver professional tour and hopefully earn a card on the Canadian Tour. Stinson has played as an amateur on the Vancouver tour the last two summers. Last year, if he had competed as a professional, he would have finished in the money at each event he entered. His ultimate goal is to compete one day on the PGA Tour.

Yet with all he’s accomplished at Wayland, Coach Harp can still remember his first encounter with Stinson.

“It’s great to have a young guy that has talent and may be smart, but Kevin has something that was beyond both of those,” Harp said. “I think that has made the difference with Kevin. He had a great walk with the Lord. That’s the reason he ended up being a team captain. That’s why he has been such a great leader on our team.”