Williams Lake’s Mitch Gillis’ had to make the toughest decision of his life last December when he elected to retire from professional golf.
“When I graduated from Oregon State in 2007 I basically had a five year plan to make the PGA tour,” said Gillis. “I was pretty much self-sustaining financially with golf and I was getting better and better each year and coming so close.”
In 2012 Gillis hit a rough patch as he struggled through injury and ended up losing his Web.com tour status.
His five year plan was up after the 2012 season but he decided to give it one last kick at the can in 2013.
Last summer Gillis used a new fundraising website rallyme.com and received plenty of support from his hometown raising $12,500 to cover his 2013 qualifying school entry fee and related travel costs.
“I wouldn’t have been able to go to Q-school without this (rallyme.com) and a good chunk of the support came from Williams Lake,” said Gillis.
Last October, the 30-year-old was unable to advance from the first stage of the WEB.com Q-school shooting rounds of 74, 75, 73 and 70 at the The Lakes at Castle Hills in Lewisville, Texas. Gillis rallied hard shooting a final round two under par 70 but it was too little too late as his overall score of four over par was three shots shy of the qualifying cut off of one over par.
“I gave it my best shot but I just couldn’t get back to that level,” said Gillis. “I have no regrets and know I did my best. I had all the tools in place and most of my golf structure or total package heading into college — I’d say 90 per cent came from Williams Lake.”
The former B.C. Amateur Champion was married last summer to his wife Krystal and the couple are expecting their first child, a girl, in late October. The pair reside in Gillis’s adopted hometown of Phoenix, Arizona where he has lived the past three years.
Gillis has traded in his golf clubs for medical supplies, as he landed a new profession in sales with medical supply giant Stryker.
“My wife worked in medical supplies and I found her work intriguing and eventually got a job in the field,” said Gillis.
Gillis who graduated with honours from Oregon State University with a business major was able to use his tools to land his new gig.
“I applied for the job which seemed over my head but when they mentioned I had no experience I was able to explain that when it comes to sales I’ve been selling myself with golf for the past six years where through recruiting sponsors and self promotion I’ve been able to do what I love,” explained Gillis.
Gillis, a Columneetza graduate, feels he made the right decision to retire and looks forward to spending time with his family.
“I was travelling 35-40 weeks out of the year and there’s a lot of golfers I know that play these mini tours with two or three kids that are continually on the road grinding out a living and never see their families — I didn’t want that to be me,” said Gillis.
Gillis still golfs recreationally and plans to always be associated with the sport in some capacity. His new job keeps him busy and definitely fills the void golf has left when it comes to performing under pressure.
“I haven’t golfed nearly as much as I expected to, my job is long 12 hour days,” said Gillis.
“It’s a bit like golf in that it’s very high pressure — I’m often right there in the operating room explaining to top surgeons how to use the instruments and there’s very little room for error.”