General's son achieves success on golf course
Nick Mason, a professional golfer and the son of Patti and Maj. Gen. Ray Mason, U.S. Army Forces Command logistics director, prepares to hit a shot on the first hole at the Fort McPherson golf course April 6. Nick was in the area on his way to watch the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, a tournament he one day hopes to play in. Nick was introduced to golf by his father and spent many hours practicing on military installation courses.

Every April, golf enthusiasts converge on Augusta to witness the Masters Golf Tournament (Masters), one of the four major championships in golf.

They come from all over the country to see top golfers from around the world compete for the champion's green jacket, cheer on their favorite athlete or, perhaps in this year's case, see Tiger Woods' return to the golf course.

For one military Family member, however, going to the Masters is a chance to see the competition he believes he will eventually play in himself.

Nick Mason, a professional golfer and son of Maj. Gen. Ray Mason, U.S. Army Forces Command logistics director, took another step toward his goal of playing in the Masters while visiting Fort McPherson April 6.

Nick, who lives in Arizona, stopped by to get in a practice round of golf with his father before heading to Augusta.

Playing golf with his father on military installation golf courses was how Nick's journey into golf began.

His father, who himself was introduced to golf as a child in 1969 while living next to a golf course on Fort Lee, Va., drafted Nick as a play partner when he turned 16.

"Nick was always a natural athlete," Ray said, noting he figured Nick would make a good play partner.

The student would quickly overcome the teacher, and despite only beginning to play at 16, Nick's talent allowed him to win a golf scholarship to the University of Hawaii.

"I was a two-time All-American (one of the top five players in the country)," Nick said. "My senior year (2005), I finished second in the national championship. I missed by one shot."

Later that year, Nick signed himself over as a professional golfer.

Although the declaration meant he could no longer play in amateur tournaments, it opened up a new door for him: financial support playing the game he loves.

"Money was the reason," he said of his decision to sign over as a pro.

He said at average tournaments, players can earn from $15,000 to $30,000 a tournament. He said his largest win was $22,000 at the Waterloo Open in Iowa, where he placed second.

Playing in roughly 25 to 30 tournaments a year, Nick said he is able to live entirely on golf winnings.

Besides earning him a living, golf has also led him to several victories.

Nick has won the Nebraska Open, the Hawaii Open, twice, and the Hilo Open, also in Hawaii, three times.

He also qualified for the Sony Open while in Hawaii, but missed qualifying for the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) by two strokes. Still, his father said Nick will eventually hit that milestone.

"He's yet to reach his full potential," Ray said. "One day, he'll be on the PGA. He's got the drive and dedication to do it."

That drive is what keeps Nick doing something golf related at least six days a week.

"It's not a lazy man's sport," he said.

Like other athletes, Nick said golf requires him to stay in shape by exercising regularly, eating properly and working on his fundamentals on the golf course.

Additionally, he said there is a mental aspect to match the physical demands of the game.

"I'd say its 80 percent mental. You need to be able to relax," Nick said. "If your outside life is going well, you're going to play your best." While Nick credits hard work with helping him reach this stage in his career, his father has a different take on things.

"I taught him all I know about golf," Ray said. "But he forgot it and has been fine ever since."

Nick said his father's belief will hopefully follow him in his future endeavors.

This week, he competed in the Mid Pacific Open, and next month, Nick will try to achieve one of his career goals by attempting to qualify for the Masters.

His quest begins May 17 at the local qualification round in Phoenix. Should he place in the top four, Nick said he will go on to compete in the sectional qualifier June 8 in Denver.

A top-three finish will qualify him for the event. "I just have to stay healthy and practice," Nick said.

No matter the outcome, his father stands behind him, always willing to play a game - even if it means getting trounced.

"I'm very proud of him as a golfer and even more for the man he is," Ray said.

Page last updated Tue April 20th, 2010 at 12:06