Golf has come full circle for Davey Jude after a wild ride of extreme highs and extreme lows.
The former Marshall University standout exploded onto the amateur golf scene in 2014 by winning the prestigious BNI Golf Tournament, now known as the Mountain State Golf Classic.
This weekend, Jude returns to the scene of his early amateur success in hopes of joining an elite group of two-time winners.
The Mountain State Golf Classic, which serves as a charity event and is presented in large part by Little General, is a three-day event that starts Saturday at Grandview Country Club. The tournament then moves to Glade Springs for Sunday’s competition on the Stonehaven Course and then to the Cobb Course for Monday’s championship round.
Proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Senior Friends of Raleigh General.
“It is the hottest golf tournament of the year for me,” Jude said. “It is kinda where I started. It might have been the first multiple day tournament that I ever won. It was definitely a big stepping stone in the amateur ranks leading up to when I turned pro.”
After a four-year stint on the links for the Thundering Herd, Jude moved to Florida to work for his dad and refine his golf skills with the intent of playing professionally.
A huge amateur win in The Sunshine State signaled that maybe his time had come.
“I won the Dixie Amateur, which is a big event in Florida that has been won by 15 or so PGA Tour players,” Jude said. “So, my dad asked me if I was ready. I told him I was not sure if you are every really ready, but it was time, as a friend said, to get my teeth kicked in to see what I need to improve.”
Jude earned status on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica which is a feeder tour to the PGA Tour. He also received an exemption to play in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic at the Greenbrier.
“Playing in the Greenbrier Classic was the highlight of my life for a lot of reasons,” Jude said. “There is no comparison to playing on the PGA Tour where you are side by side with the likes of Phil Mickelson and other big names.”
However, just when professional golf seemed to be going in a positive direction for Jude, tragedy struck when his father was killed in a helicopter crash on July 4, 2019.
“We did golf as a team. When my dad passed away it was just very hard to do it on my own. I didn’t have much drive. It was just as much his dream for me to make it as it was mine. When I lost him, (the dream) kinda faded away,” Jude said. “I only got to play half of the year on the Latinoamerica Tour. I was exempt for the second half, but with everything that happened to my dad, I didn’t go back down for the second half.”
Jude returned to the Mountain State after the tragedy.
“We had to move back to West Virginia which made it very hard to keep playing professionally. I decided to find a good job, get a good place to live, then re-apply for my amateur status. That way I could still play golf and play competitively in the highest amateur rankings.”
Regaining his amateur status took time after being successful in the professional ranks.
“I have been itching to get back into competitive golf. My reinstatement was a little bit longer mainly because it is based on money won and status earned professionally,” Jude said. “I applied for amateur status in 2020, but they made me sit out a little longer than I would have liked to, but there was a reason for it.”
The long wait ended this past Friday when Jude regained his amateur status and it did not take long for him to make a splash in the amateur ranks.
Monday, just three days into his return as an amateur, the former Marshall standout shot 2-under par to earn low medalist honors in the 102nd WV Amateur Qualifier held at Parkersburg Country Club.
“I had been looking forward to that date for a while and it was a great goal to accomplish,” Jude said.
Full of renewed confidence, Jude looks to build on Monday’s success with a win back where it all started in 2014.
“There are days that I feel like I am playing better than I did professionally, but there are also days that I wonder what I am doing out here,” Jude said, laughing. “You have to have the mentality of ‘don’t show up if you can’t win’. The goal is definitely to win. I am going to have to drive it well and make some putts out there the first two days to put myself in a good spot on the final day.”
Jude will tee off Saturday at 9 a.m. in a group that includes Bumper Wright, Ardie Jenkins and Drew Walker.