Even as naïve high school grads, few of us ever work up the courage to chase our ultimate dream.

We tell ourselves college must be the key, a necessity so we can get a good-paying job, raise a nice family and drive a spiffy car. We tell ourselves this because so many others concur and we’re conditioned to go with the percentages.

Then there’s Brian Beach. He’s the guy most of us wanted to be before we settled for safe and sensible.

Beach was a decent golfer for Missoula Big Sky as a senior five years ago. He typically shot in the mid-70s and ended up tying for 10th in the 2007 Class AA state meet.

Actually the most noteworthy event in his prep career probably occurred his freshman year. That’s when he met Brad Solander, a former Missoula golfer with a reputation for success.

“He was an assistant coach at Big Sky and we just kind of hit it off,” Beach recalled. “To this day he’s still my mentor.”

Upon graduating from Big Sky, Beach pursued his passion. He attended Professional Golfers’ Career College in California before his game went sideways and he returned to Missoula in 2010. He went to the University of Montana for a semester and tried the University of Idaho twice before again moving back to Missoula in 2011.

“I got a job at the Highlands,” he said of a local public golf course. “It was night watering and it was awesome. I was around golf constantly and started to play better and better. I played every single day.”

Beach found his mojo and headed to Canada in July of 2011 where he won his first tournament. His desire to aim higher was strong as ever.

“From there I just ran with it,” he said. “I ended up placing as low amateur in the Montana Open, third in the Bitterroot Open and third in the Labor Day Tournament. It really sparked it.”

Beach headed back to SoCal last October and roomed with Solander. His old coach provided priceless advice and Beach saved up enough money working at a golf shop to try his hand in elite amateur tournaments.

His persistence has paid off handsomely. Last month he won the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. This 22-year-old who was watering fairways at the Highlands just a year earlier finished at 4-over-par 290 for his seventh victory on the Golf Channel Am Tour.

“At the end of the National Championship I had a real interview and for me it was crazy, surreal,” said Brian, who credits his father, Scott, for being a calming force as his caddy. “I really don’t like public speaking, but I did decent enough.”

Asked what it is about his game that has enabled him to take a giant leap, Beach offered a surprising reply. Enlightening, too, for all of us who cannot resist over-swinging.

“My attitude toward the game has really developed,” he said. “In high school the mentality was just hit the ball far and don’t worry about score. But playing these harder courses you don’t need to hit a driver off the tee every time.

“I’ve become mentally tough. A lot of it is believing in yourself, being around a lot of tournaments and high-pressure situations and overcoming.”

Beach’s plan moving forward is to save some money working at Diamondback Golf, maybe take a few college classes and get ready for Canadian Qualifying School in May.

“It’s not as big as the Nationwide or the Web.com or the PGA European Tour, but it’s getting experience in front of a camera with crowds, getting comfortable with it,” he said. “I’ll turn pro and travel from the west to the east coast of Canada if I make it.”

No one knows for sure where Beach’s golf goes from here. Not even Brian.

But you can bet he’s going to find out. Therein lies the beauty.

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