For Mason Casper, golf has always been a part of him. Growing up having a former professional golfer as a father and hall of fame golf legend Billy Casper as a grandfather, it wasn’t as if Mason wanted to become anything other than a notable golfer himself.
“I was always around golf with my grandpa and dad,” Casper said. “My dad taught me all the basics and I worked a lot on my own and just enjoyed it. My grandpa helps me a lot now, we play and he helps me with the little things. He has definitely played a big role into the golfer I am now.”
While one would assume excelling in a sport in which his father and grandfather mastered would garner immense expectations and notoriety, Casper was barely recruited out of Springville, Utah. The odds of him ever playing for a NCAA program decreased even more after the NCAA failed to clear him as a result of his academic career in high school. Casper tried not to let that deter him.
“I would always play in tournaments against the college kids and I would beat most of them,” Casper said. “I was playing maybe once a week while these kids were playing every day. So I always knew I could compete with the guys at the college level.”
Casper’s key moment came in 2010, when his new wife Chelsea urged him to try out for UVU’s golf team. In order to do this, Casper was required to enroll in school for a year prior to being able to play. Upon satisfying the requirements outlined by the NCAA, Casper quickly became UVU’s top golfer. After his first year of competition, he was named to the America Sky All-Conference and All-Tournament team, and was also tabbed as the Walk-on of the Year as well as Golfer of the Year.
“Since I have started college, my game has gone to a completely different level,” Casper said. “I’m ten times better than I ever have been. It is all about experience. In college I have participated in tournaments, won tournaments and have learned to perform while under par, where the pressure is on.”
UVU wasn’t initially his top choice to golf. He always envisioned himself golfing for Brigham Young University, where his father once starred. But in his new home, Casper has become a fixture of the burgeoning UVU men’s golf program. He credited head coach Chris Curran and the program for helping him become a vastly improved golfer.
“I’m glad I am where I’m at,” Casper said. “Coach [Curran] is awesome; the program has become a totally different and better program than it has been in the past and probably ever. Coach is great, he gave me the opportunity to play at the college level and compete with the best players in the country.”
Casper will have his opportunity to shine against some of the top amateur golfers this coming March in the Bandon Dunes Championship held in Bandon, Oregon. In golf, much of one’s ranking is based upon the head-to-head matchups. Bandon Dunes will host many of the west’s top golfers, including Washington’s Chris Williams and Oregon’s Eugene Wong. A strong showing by Casper and the Wolverines will help solidify a berth for the NCAA Championships held from May 29 – June 3.
With a bid in the Championships as a goal, Casper will spend the rest of the regular season refining his game. Several rounds of golf with his dad and grandpa might be in order to help him prepare for the challenge ahead. For Casper, the time is now to prove his worthiness among the amateur elite.
“Washington and Oregon have some guys inside the top 25,” Casper said. “It’s my chance to prove I belong with those guys.”
By Travis Leavitt