He hit it then, and hits it now, a long, long way. That summer, he went on to play in the U.S. Amateur Public Links championship. This past summer, he won the Capitol City Am again.
“My major goal is to turn this into a living, make good money at it,” he said then.
It could be said McCaslin, a former baseball standout at North Thurston High School, is no closer today to that goal than he was then.
But he would tell you that’s not so. He’s still got the goal in his sights, even as he looks at shutting down, at least competitively, for the winter.
“It’s something I totally want to do,” he said this week. “My game is getting better and better all the time.”
He’s been busy lately, achieving his first hole-in-one, competing in his first long-drive championship, tying for first in a Capitol City men’s club two-man scramble just this past weekend and attacking what he sees as potential weaknesses in his game.
He worked recently with Scott Geroux, a former Timberline High star, 1980 Washington Junior Amateur champion and veteran pro.
He worked most on his setup and his short game – 100 yards and in.
McCaslin learned his front shoulder was open when he was aiming. Geroux had him tuck his left shoulder in a bit, and while at first that seemed like lining up to the right, he was really setting up straight.
Working with his wedges, Geroux got McCaslin to be less flippy with his wrists and move the ball back in his stance, more middle and back than forward.
The result was crisper ball-striking, McCaslin said.
His ace came in the first day of the Washington State Golf Association Champion of Champions event at The Home Course. He used a 5-iron on the remodeled No. 12, a 214-yard par-3.
“The green has a big tier in the middle, and it was a back left flag,” he said. “I knew it was right at it, and I walked up there and it was in the hole.
After the ace helped him to an opening 69, McCaslin finished in a tie for sixth.
McCaslin, using a 50-inch driver – typical for a long-drive event – striped one 380 yards, he said, in qualifying for the Mile High Shootout in Denver last month. He missed the final round by 5 yards.
He acknowledges he’s blessed with a gift for the long ball. But if he wants to be a pro, he says, “It’s definitely a putting contest out there.”
One Geroux technique resonated with McCaslin: When practicing putting, hit the last 10 balls from a foot or two to the hole.
“You get that visualization for the ball getting in the hole,” McCaslin said. “It puts a good thought in your mind.”
To be a pro, McCaslin says, it’s about putting – from 10 feet and in a guy needs to make 75 percent or better.
It’s about putting – but it’s also about time and money. McCaslin has a full-time job in his family’s plumbing business. He doesn’t get to spend 6-7 hours a day playing golf.
So he’ll need a sponsor. He’s thinking the Arizona-based Gateway Tour, where you pay to play before you can play for pay, might be a good place to get a toehold in the professional world.
“If I was able to play golf every day,” McCaslin says, “I would have no problem competing.”
Bold talk but McCaslin makes you believe.