What happens when the golfing gods have smiled on you and you’re supposed to be the next big thing? There was talk of life on the golfing circuit and turning pro. Future endorsement, and in golfing terms, “you the man” seemed to follow him wherever he went.
For one young man, he found success fleeting and victory hollow, because it brought out the worst in people — people he never expected to turn on him and were unhappy over his success. What was shocking was that it wasn’t the kids or his golfing peers, but the adults. Cavan Jones felt adults were supposed to celebrate the young and encourage them, but they used their position of influence to create doubt in his mind about his game and the competition. All this did was drive a golf prodigy from the game.
Life and golf can be cruel in the twists and turns it takes. Roswell’s Cavan Jones made himself a household name throughout the golfing world by stroking two putts to win the putting portion of the Drive, Chip & Putt for 14-15 year-olds in 2017. The nerves and composure it took for him to compete against the 10 best players in his age group were astounding and mind-boggling especially in front of 200,000 fans with TV cameras looking on.
It wasn’t so much the putts he made, but where and when he made them. He had to hit a 30-foot uphill shot that came within 3 feet, 1 inch from the cup. The next shot had Cavan stroking a 15-foot put from the 18-green at Augusta National Golf Club to win the putting contest. He would finish fourth overall out of 10 competitors.
Cavan Jones felt the course looked different on TV than in person. There were several elevation changes in the greens. He said that from the first putt to the second there was a little hill that cuts it in half and puts it on another level. He thought the hill was almost as tall as he was at 6-foot-1.
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He said that from where he was standing, he could not see the hole on his first putt, which was 30 feet from the hole. On his second putt, he noticed the people putting in front of him and their putts were going fast by the hole. This was from the front of the green, the Masters recreated Adam Scott’s shot.
Cavan Jones leaned on his training and what his coaches taught him about getting into a good pre-shot routine. He went through his motions and did what he does. On the second shot, it was downhill and very fast, breaking 8 feet and hitting the bottom of the cup. He won the putting by 1 inch.
15 minutes of fame
This is a story of how Cavan Jones’ 15 minutes of fame turned into an endless eternity of snipping and self-doubt. His happiness over accomplishing a goal would turn to hate, which would drive him from the game of golf.
“Most of the town was in full support of me,” he said. “There were a few people that were not supportive. They were actually what kind of helped me decide to leave the competitive side of golf.”
Cavan Jones said that people were nit-picky and would tell him he wasn’t good enough. When he was practicing, people would say things to throw him off his game. Or tell him to fix this in his game before he went to a tournament. People would tell him what was wrong with his game and then leave him to figure it out on his own.
“It was tough to listen to other people,” he said. “I would wonder why my coach wouldn’t be saying these things. They put a lot of pressure on me to perform and compete and do better than some of the kids I grew up with. Or they would tell me if I was ‘going to represent Roswell, you better do it well.’”
Rivalry with Peyton
It would take a friendship with fellow golfer Peyton Jones and turn it into a mean-spirited competition between the two. The two are friends and used to play practice rounds together after First Tee. Cavan Jones felt people would turn it into a competition of who won instead of letting them be kids and have fun. The two would stop playing together. Cavan Jones going into high school only amplified the feelings between the two by other people.
“I loved to just go out with Peyton (Jones),” Cavan Jones said. “We would play after First Tee every day. It was fun and I loved it. There was nothing I would change about it. We were just friends, but a certain group of people would turn it into a tear each other up in competition. I’m not a competitive person.”
Cavan Jones noted adults would walk by him as he was preparing to go to another tournament and tell him, not to embarrass them, the club, or himself, all creating doubt in his psyche. He said he would play club championships and be treated horribly by people. He felt that people treated him like he had no right to be there.
“Most of the people supported us in this town,” Cavan Jones said, “but certain people took the sweet and made it nothing but bitter. I played there four years later. I’m 19, and I still get treated that way today. I’m an adult male and still get treated the way I used to when I was a kid.”
When Cavan Jones would travel and play in tournaments during the summer, competitors already knew who he was. They would tell him they had seen him on TV and Cavan Jones started feeling like a marked man. Many of his competitor’s days were made by beating him.
Things were so bad that he didn’t play his junior or senior season at Goddard. After Drive, Chip & Putt, Cavan Jones loved golf, but as soon as high school started, the pressure got worse for him. Not only was he competing, but he was competing against Peyton Jones. Cavan Jones felt it was wearing and hard to play against Peyton Jones after a while. He quit having fun and was not enjoying golf anymore. Cavan Jones would not play golf for eight months, thus ending his high school career.
“I decided not to play,” Cavan Jones said. “It was a tough decision, but it was not a pleasant couple of years. I was considering going pro right out of high school. I can’t tell you how many times I walked off the golf course and wanted to quit. I think those people knew exactly what they were doing to me. I was a 15-year-old kid. I think those people are happier I’m not playing golf.”
Answering the call
Cavan Jones remembers going on a winter retreat with his church, and hearing God ask him if he wanted to spend the rest of his life in competition? If he wanted to spend it in constant tension and stress? He told God no.
He said God asked him why he was trying to create a profession out of playing golf. God told him golf was only going to get worse if he turned pro. He never competed in golf again since January 2018.
“From that moment on, school and athletics took a back burner,” he said. “I wanted pro golf until then. It was tough to walk away from golf and at the same time, it was the easiest thing I could have done. I wouldn’t be at the school I’m at if I had been golfing.”
He struggled not to hold a grudge against the people who hurt him. He understands that he’s not a competitor. He likes to compete but not to the point of tearing other people down. He loved to play golf. Cavan Jones is attending college as a sophomore at Grand Canyon University, in Phoenix, Arizona, and plans to be a minister. He is a worship team volunteer at his church and feels fulfilled that he has found his purpose in life.
“I have no bitterness or grudges against anyone that treated me badly,” he said. “I wasn’t happy. I think some people need to realize what they did so it doesn’t happen again to someone else. What if someone’s purpose was to play golf. People need to support youth. Golf is a dying sport in Roswell.”
Cavan Jones would like to one-day help coach at First Tee. He feels the organization did so much for his life. He feels Adrienne Fields and Rebecca Porte pour so much into his life. He does not want to be remembered for his Drive, Chip & Putt’s appearance.
“A lot of people don’t understand the calling,” he said. “I was called out of golf and into the ministry.”
He feels when he leads worship at church, there is no pressure to perform.
“My job is to connect the congregation’s hands to God’s hands and when I do that, I’m successful,” he said.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.