By Total Sports Quinte
For Jon Mills, golf began in Belleville. His father’s work brought the family to Belleville in 1985 and the Bay of Quinte Golf Club soon became the place to be throughout the summer. Initially Jon would be left near the putting green while his parents played, and that provided many hours of chipping, putting and self-designed competitions with buddies that would pay off in later years. The first tastes of on-course competition took place in Bay of Quinte Junior Field Days, and on the St. Lawrence Junior Golf Tour.
Perhaps motivated by the success of his brother Jeff – who attended Jacksonville University on a golf scholarship before spending two years on the Canadian tour – Mills completed a fine junior career with a 1996 win in the Ontario Junior Boys Championship, and earned a four-year scholarship to Kent State University, under the tutelege of legendary coach Herb Page. Page, himself an Ontarian, would go on – and continues today – to play a major role in Mills’ life.
The four years at Kent State saw Mills win five college championships, the Mid-American Conference golfer-of-the-year award in 2001, and four team conference championships. He was also a medalist in the 2002 NCAA Central Regional championship, and was named a first team all-American in 2001. During that same period, Mills was selected to the Canadian world amateur team, competing in the 2000 world championship in Berlin, and to Canada’s Four Nations team that defeated New Zealand, Japan and Australia in 2001.
Mills capped a stellar amateur career by winning the Ontario Men’s Amateur title in 2001 before turning pro and qualifying for the Nationwide Tour.
“Amateur golf gave me the opportunity to not only develop my game, but to see much of Canada, a lot of the USA and a few locations around the world. My success as an amateur gave me the confidence to make the jump to professional golf.”
“Along the way people like Herb Page, my coach Dave Woods, Golf Canada’s player development program and of course my parents and my wife Megan provided the support I needed to get to the pro level.”
In 2001 Mills jumped straight to the Nationwide Tour, only to find that his game wasn’t quite ready for that level. Having previously qualified for the Canadian tour by playing in just one event during an off-week for the Nationwide Tour, he spent 2002 travelling across Canada, winning the Manitoba Open, the Canadian Tour Order of Merit, and then jumping back up the ladder to the Nationwide Tour for 2003.
In 2005, in addition to winning the Nationwide Tour’s Canadian Professional Golfers Championship, Mills finished fourth on the tour Order of Merit and advanced to the PGA Tour for 2006. Every step up the ladder presents new challenges and in 2007 Mills was back on the Nationwide Tour. However, a win at the Boise Open and a third-place finish on the tour’s Order of Merit saw Mills jump back to the PGA big show for 2008.
Over his career, Mills played in ten Canadian Opens, 70 PGA Tour events, 184 Nationwide Tour events, and three USGA Opens (including a T36 at Torrey Pines in 2008).
In 2007, Mills was selected as Score’s Canadian Male Golfer of the Year and inducted into the Kent State University Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2014 Mills stepped away from serious competition and returned to Kent State University as the associate head coach for the men’s golf team – still under the leadership of Herb Page. In 2019, Page ended his impressive coaching career with his induction into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, and announced his retirement.
His successor? Jon Mills. Big shoes to fill as he enters a new phase of his career.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to take over a world-class program that Herb has built, and to continue the Kent State tradition. Our goal down the road is an NCAA championship and Herb has laid the foundation for us to pursue that dream.”
Mills met his wife Megan while attending Kent State (she was a basketball player) and after living in Indiana, Pennsylvania for Jon’s professional career, they relocated to Kent, Ohio to pursue his coaching career. They have two children – Benjamin (8), Emma (6,) and also Cameron, the pet dog named after Scotty Cameron.
His parents – Dave and Judy – still reside in Belleville. His sister Jennifer is the head coach of the Clarion (Pa) women’s volleyball team, and brother Jeff is the director of golf at the Wildfire Golf Club.