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A dog-legged route to Saints’ Hall of Fame

Daily Inter Lake | July 14, 2023 12:00 AM

Jim Mee’s original plan was to play on the hardcourt alongside Andy Garland, and it’s fitting that both the Libby Logger, Mee, and Sentinel Spartan are headed into Carroll College’s Hall of Fame in September.

Mee literally took a more circuitous route — roughly 7,000 yards farther than your typical basketball court.

“I don’t know if golf was ever really on his radar,” Carroll coach Bennett McIntyre recalled. “He was a basketball player. I knew of him, though, and he was interested in being on the golf team, and my position was to … try and massage it and get him on the course.”

It was 2008 and Mee, a 6-foot-4 small forward/three guard, was coming off a senior season in which he poured in 21.6 points a game for the Loggers. That brought hoops coach Gary Turcott calling and Mee signed up to join the Saints.

He was also coming off his second straight top-three finish at the State A golf meet, the previous fall. As a junior he fired a 68 and a 73 and finished second to Whitefish golfer Sam Krause.

It’s not clear on who contacted who first, but Mee did say this: Turcott was very supportive. And when Turcott “retired” between Mee’s freshman and sophomore seasons — Turcott is an assistant for the Saint women — picking up the sticks appealed more.

“Instead of two-a-days in the fall and beating yourself up all the time, you walked a course,” Mee said this week. “You compete in really warm places. And when you went to practice, you went and played golf.”

McIntyre figured he was getting a good golfer, and ended up with a No. 1. In May of 2012, Mee led Carroll to the Frontier Conference championship while putting up a first-round 64 — a tournament record for Larchmont in Missoula — and winning medalist honors.

“It’s almost like baseball, when you have the ace pitcher,” McIntyre said. “Jim was the No. 1 guy that had that swagger: ‘I can go low. Don’t be afraid of success.’ And I think the other guys fed off that.”

After college Mee took a run at professional golf, playing a mini-tour in Arizona. He caddied to make ends meet and give himself access to the courses. And so it was that several years after playing hoops against him in the Flathead gym, Mee was on the bag for Brock Osweiler.

Which is all to say golf has been very, very good to him. He felt he’d gone as far as he could competitively in 2019, and so he and his wife moved to Missoula. But the links weren’t far away.

Janell Mee is an RN at Community Hospital; Jim Mee is a teaching pro at the Ranch Club and an assistant coach for the Montana Grizzlies women’s team.

He can still strike the ball: He shot 63 from the back tees at the Ranch Club; McIntyre was with him when he shot a 61 at Green Meadows in Helena. If anyone asks who has the course record there or at Northern Pines (another 61), you can reply, “Me,” and you won’t be wrong.

Carroll College plays its homecoming football game Sept. 23, and that weekend Mee will be inducted into the Saints Hall. It just won’t be for his jumper.

“I just played with my family, and there was a group of guys that played pretty much every day at 11:30,” Mee said of his start in golf, at Libby’s Cabinet View course. An athletic dogleg put him on the golf course, and he hasn’t looked back.

“It’s been pretty much my whole life since,” he said.

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 758-4463 or fneighbor@dailyinterlake.com

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