After years of being a highly competitive junior golfer at Rolling Road County Club that carried over to high school at McDonogh School and eventually to college for two years, Justin Jarvis gave up the game he loved for six years.
Two years ago, Jarvis, who grew up on the Catonsville and Halethorpe border on Gun Road, started taking the game seriously again and it has put him on the brink of playing in the most prestigious tournament of his life.
On Sept. 6, at 1:39 p.m., he will tee it up on hole number 10 at the par-71, 7,054-yard Weyhill Course in stroke play format for the 2014 United States Mid-Amateur Tournament at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.
The next day he will tee off at 8:39 a.m. on the first hole of the par-71, 7091-yard Old Course.
The 64 players with the lowest scores advance to match play, which starts Sept. 8 and concludes with a 36-hole final on Thursday, Sept. 11.
The two finalists qualify for the 2015 Masters in Augusta, Ga.
“This is what you dream of as an amateur,” said Jarvis, 30, who is playing in the tournament for golfers age 25 and older for the first time. “My goal is make match play and I know if I make match play, I can win it. I want to enjoy it because you dream of this stuff.”
If he plays like he did at Norbeck Country Club on July 28, when he shot 2-under-par 69, match play could become a reality.
At that qualifying event, he was 4-under par heading into his 16th hole, which was the seventh hole on the course because he started on the back nine, when he questioned his caddy.
“I was in the third to last group and he looked at the scores and I said, ‘Just tell me if under-par qualifies.’” he recalled. “He said, ‘If you stay under par you are going to qualify.’ “I felt a big sense of relief.”
He bogeyed the next two holes, but parred the 440-yard final hole and finished second in the tournament.
The top five finishers qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Approximately, 6,000 amateur golfers tried to qualify from all over the country, and the final field consists of the top 264.
One of the turning points in Jarvis' qualifying round came on the par-5 17th hole when he holed out for eagle to go 3-under par through eight holes.
“I was hitting the ball great all day,” said Jarvis, who gave up competitive golf in 2006 after playing for two years in college at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina.
In 2008, he moved to California and took a job as an outside service manager at the famous Bel-Air Country Club.
When he moved back to Maryland in 2010 he joined his dad, Tom, and Jimmy Angelo as a partial owner of Allview Liquors in Howard County.
Working three days a week as a minority owner gave him more time to play golf, and he took up the game in earnest in 2012.
In 2013, he began playing in individual tournaments and in 2014 he was on the victorious Rolling Road A team that won the Maryland Golf Association team match championship in April.
Joining him on that squad was 10-time Rolling Road Club champion Rick Sovero; seven-time club champion Matt Bassler, who played in the US. Amateur in early August; Moose Brown, who has played in a United States Open; Kevin Aliss, Chris Derby, Bart DeLuca, George Blyth IV, Andrew Lawton and Scott Falatach.
Bassler captured his seventh Rolling Road Club championship and fourth straight on Labor Day when he defeated Sovero 5 and 4 in the match-play event.
In May, Jarvis won the Maryland Amateur at Andrew Air Force Base and his solid play continued at Norbeck Country Club.
Steve Homans, who played against and with Jarvis in several junior tournaments, caddied for him twice this year and watched him round into form.
“He played so well when he was young, so I knew with a year of practice he would get it back,” said Homans, who lost to Jarvis in four straight Rolling Road junior club championships.
This summer he got a closer look at his friend in tournaments.
“I’ve caddied for him a few times this year and he doesn’t miss fairways,” Homans said. “He’s a straight hitter, and he keeps the ball in front of him.”
Homans was surprised to hear that Jarvis said he has been having putting troubles lately.
“He was the best putter and had the best short game of anyone when he was young,” Homans said. “I’m confident in him because he doesn’t make mistakes, and he’s always keeping it in play. If he can get the putter rolling, he’ll go well under par.”
Jarvis is looking forward to putting in pristine conditions.
“I just tend to putt better on fast greens,” he said.
But, even if he doesn’t advance to the match-play competition, Jarvis said he will cherish the experience.
“I go to these tournaments and I’m nervous and I want to be good, but this course is going to be so nice and so perfectly manicured, it’s going to be easier for me to enjoy it,” Jarvis said. “It is going to be one of the top five courses I’ve played.”