Throughout his short career at Shawnee State, B.J. Knox has been a threat to win anywhere he’s gone.
From the start of his golf career, however, it has been in Knox’s blood to compete.
A four-year state qualifier at Mason County, Knox has translated his high school success into a promising college career that could have him regarded as one of the best golfing talents to ever play at Shawnee State.
A first-time medalist with Shawnee State this past fall, Knox — who has finished inside the top-five three additional times during his short career with the Bears — has firmly established himself as an impactful player inside and outside of Mid-South Conference competition.
“My experience so far has been great,” Knox said. “I really think we have a great group of guys who like to work hard. Everyone gets along and pushes each other to get better every day. Everyone is competitive, either in practice or when we are just playing some golf on our days off. We are always trying to play for something to make us mentally tough.”
At Mason County, Knox was part of a star-studded lineup.
Playing alongside two future Division I players in Northern Kentucky signee and future All-Horizon League honoree Jackson Frame along with Eastern Kentucky standout Tyler Lippert, in addition to Chandler Clark and Kaleb Coleman, Knox helped lead the Royals to a Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Region 8 Runner-Up finish in his freshman and sophomore years, then guided the group — alongside Lippert, Clark, Coleman and Bryan Walton — to a KHSAA Region 8 Championship as a junior.
In his junior season, Knox’s improvement was critical in Mason County’s run to the regional title.
Knox, who posted an 84 as a sophomore, improved his score by nine strokes to a stout 75 as a junior to help lead the Royals to the state tournament, where he scored a personal-best finish of 19th in 2015 to help Mason County collect a third-place finish.
The following year, the Royals failed to qualify for the state tournament as a team, but Knox himself delivered.
The senior shot a low score of 73 to edge future teammate Jordan Hughes by two strokes for KHSAA Region 8 Medalist honors to qualify for state as an individual yet again.
“Playing high school golf at Mason County was awesome,” Knox said. “I got the opportunity to play in the state tournament four times. We were very successful. In my junior season, we ended up finishing third in the state, and our No. 1 guy went on to play D-I golf. I certainly had my ups and downs in high school, but it was also an experience that I will never forget.”
After committing to Campbellsville initially out of high school, Knox transferred back to Shawnee State following a year with the Tigers — and hasn’t looked back with the Bears.
In the final two meets of the Spring 2019 campaign, Knox put together an excellent stretch, shooting a one-under 143 over two days at the Mid-South Conference’s Spring Tournament at the Elks.
Then at Bowling Green Country Club, Knox added in another stellar effort, leading Shawnee State for the second consecutive meet by shooting a seven-over 223 over three rounds to finish third overall and lead SSU with his second top-five finish in as many weeks.
This past fall, Knox carried over his strong performances from the spring.
After finishing fifth to start the 2019 season at the IU-East Fall Tee Off in Richmond, Ind., Knox led Shawnee State to a team victory by earning Kentucky Christian University Invitational Medalist honors, posting a one-under 143 to win the invitational and collect Mid-South Conference Golfer of the Week honors.
Knox added in 19th-place finishes at the Spring Arbor (Mich.) Invitational and the Mid-South Conference Fall Invitational, then added in a fifth-place finish at the Roger Merb Invitational to cap off the fall with all-tournament honors.
“It has been a lot of fun,” Knox said. “Every day, I try to get better and better because I just want to win every single time I go out anywhere. I try to set high goals for myself because I’d love to win the Mid-South Conference Tournament and be able to go to nationals. My teammates and my coach play a huge role into holding me accountable and helping me improve my game.”
“B.J. is a pleasure to coach,” Shawnee State head coach Dave Hopkins said. “He drives to be the best player that he can be. He’s also looking for ways to improve. His work ethic is second-to-none. He’s a great teammate who is always trying to help his fellow guys.”
For Knox, his main motivation comes from Hopkins, whom he looks at as more than a coach.
“(Dave) Hopkins has been awesome,” Knox said. “He treates us as if we are his own kids and pushes us to our limits. His motto is always about not how good you are, but about how good you want to be. He is always preaching to us how every single hole matters, and to always finish as strong as possible, no matter how your day is going. He’s always doing what he can to enforce things upon us to make us not only good golfers, but great people on and off of the golf course. He is very much a mentor to each and every one of his players.”
With two seasons left to play for the Shawnee State golf program, Knox wants to help the Bears go places that they haven’t been in a quarter-century.
“We feel great about our chances as a team,” Knox said. “Every place that we go to compete, putting together four great scores together is the key. For myself, I just want to continue to get better and want to win. My main goal is to win the Mid-South Conference Tournament and be able to have the chance to play at nationals.”
The work ethic and confidence is certainly there, on both sides, to accomplish those lofty goals.
“My hope for BJ, going forward, is simple — to enjoy the game,” Hopkins said. “He has a very bright future and will become a great man when he leaves Shawnee State. The support from his family is outstanding, and his love for the game is just as strong.”
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