Johnson adapting to life as a professional

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Yorkton’s Kade Johnson receives a tip about one of the holes at the Elk Ridge Resort from Prince Albert’s Danny Klughart during a practice round for the Mackenzie Tour’s Elk Ridge Open on Wednesday afternoon.

Yorkton product in his rookie season on Mackenzie Tour

The last couple of months have been a bit of a whirlwind for Yorkton’s Kade Johnson.

After completing his collegiate career at Southern Arkansas University, Johnson announced in August that he was entering the pro ranks and joining the Mackenzie Tour.

“I was planning on turning pro at some point this year, but I didn’t know where or when that would be happening,” Johnson said on Wednesday before taking part in a practice round for the Elk Ridge Open at the Elk Ridge Resort in Waskesiu. “I was able to get into the events in Prince Edward Island and the rest of the year on the Mackenzie Tour, and at that point, it felt like the right time to turn pro.

“It’s definitely been a new experience after being an amateur for a long time, especially in terms of getting used to the business side of the sport and all of the travel that’s involved, but it’s been a good experience so far.”

Johnson, who captured the 2018 Saskatchewan Men’s Amateur title at Dakota Dunes, is off to a strong start on the Mackenzie Tour as he finished in ninth place at the Prince Edward Island Open on Aug. 29 and followed that up with a tie for 10th spot at the Brudenell River Classic on Sept. 5.

“I didn’t really have any set expectations going into those two tournaments so I was really happy about getting a couple of top tens to start my pro career off,” Johnson said.

“I feel like I can work a little more on my wedge play and getting a little bit closer to the hole, which is something that you see the top guys on the tour do on a consistent basis. With that said, I was really happy with how I was competing out there and I was really happy with my mental game during both tournaments as I was able to stay focussed the whole time.”

Paying attention to the finer details of the game was something that Johnson knew he had to be prepared for before joining the Mackenzie Tour, especially when he had conversations with pro golfers as he was wrapping up his collegiate and amateur career.

“One of the things that the pro guys talked to me about a lot was just making sure that you are managing your time away from the course,” Johnson said. “When you are playing six weeks in a row like we are right now, it can be tough on both the body and the mind, so you need to make sure that you are taking time for yourself and keeping up your work in the gym.”

After being away from Saskatchewan for his first two pro events, Johnson will be on familiar ground this weekend as he’s one of several golfers who will have the home province advantage during the three-day tournament.

“It’s going to be an awesome week and I’ve already seen a lot of my buddies since I got up here,” said Johnson, who will be playing with Jamie Depiero of Thunder Bay, Ont. and Andrew Harrison of Camrose, Alta during the opening two rounds of the event.

“I haven’t been up here since a junior event back in 2013 and it’s really nice to be back at Elk Ridge again. The course is in incredible shape.”

After the Elk Ridge Open concludes on Saturday, Johnson will be heading to Calgary to take part in the ATB Financial Classic next weekend before competing in GolfBC Championship in Kelowna and the Reliance Properties DCBank Open in Victoria.

“My goal is to show that I can compete at this level and with these great golfers, in addition to learning as much as I can from these guys,” Johnson said.

“There’s a lot that I can learn just by picking their brains, which is something that happened out in Prince Edward Island as I got to play with Derek Gillespie, who has been a pro for 21 years. There’s so much knowledge that you can gain by asking the right questions and the things that I’m learning from them will help me out a lot in these last four events, especially going into next year.”