Grant Lucas

Brad Mombert’s clubs were stored away. He was done playing competitive golf. Frankly, Mombert says, “It wasn’t that much fun anymore.”

“It’s hard when you played at a super high level through college and then after college,” says the 37-year-old Bend resident. “But when you don’t have the time and the ability to be gone enough to play the tournaments and travel around and stuff, your game suffers. And as a result, you don’t enjoy it as much.”

Some five years ago, Mombert decided to step away from the game. He settled into a new life as manager of LBLM Investments alongside his father, as a family man with his wife, Angie, and 21-year-old stepdaughter. Funny thing about that time off the course: It stoked the fire.

Next week, the OGA Oregon Amateur Championship returns to Bend. Regarded as the premier amateur championship in the state, the 109th edition of the tournament will be staged at Bend Golf Club for an individual stroke play and match-play tournament running Monday through June 23. It will mark the third time the tourney is played at Central Oregon’s oldest course, the others being held in 1978 and 2008. The course will also be hosting the 35th Oregon Senior Women’s Amateur June 20-23.

For Mombert, the Oregon Amateur is about more than just tournament prestige or testing his mettle against up-and-coming high school and collegiate players, among others. It’s about being in the comfort of his home. Mombert has dusted off his clubs — and he is ready to return to the links for tournament golf at the very course on which he developed his game.

“I’ve played in it a lot of times,” Mombert says of the Oregon Amateur. “The only reason I’m really playing it is because it’s at the (Bend) country club, and I grew up there and played a lot of golf there in my lifetime, obviously.”

A 1999 graduate of Bend High who played for two years at the University of Oregon, Mombert was a decorated young player. He won the Oregon Junior Amateur in 1998 and took first at the OGA Tournament of Champions in 2003. But by that time, his once-burning desire to become a professional player had cooled.

“As a young guy, I had aspirations, for sure,” says Mombert, who played in four Class 4A state championships while at Bend High. “I had a good junior career. I went to college, and boy, when you hit college, you’re playing against the best of the best from not only just Oregon but from every state. I probably realized in my first year of college … it’s a struggle. It’s hard. You’ve got to play good at the right time, make it, get some kind of status and play just good enough to keep that status. It’s a lifestyle. Those guys are on the road how many weeks out of the year? Forty? They don’t see their families a lot. It’s expensive. It’s frustrating.

“Golf, for me, even when I was good, it’s frustrating. You’re trying hard and you’re practicing. It’s not like normal work, where the more time you put in the more automatically better you’re going to be at your job. Golf, yeah you’ve got to put in a lot of work, but it’s a natural talent and mental toughness and psychological warfare going on that you’ve got to master it. Not everybody can do it.”

Champion of the Mirror Pond Invitational — Central Oregon’s longest-running tournament — in 2000, 2001 and 2005, Mombert over the years became increasingly ready to ease out of tournament golf. By 2013, he completed his exit.

“Guys have to get their time away,” Mombert says. “It’s a work-life balance, just like we do with regular work. I would assume if you’re going to do that (golf) as your job, it would be important for you to get away from it for periods at a time and, just like anybody, reset and refresh and get rid of the demons.”

Still, a faint itch remained for Mombert to size himself up against competition. Playing in tournaments, he says, is the only way to measure your skills. Last fall, he entered a couple of tourneys “literally cold,” Mombert recalls. “Just picked up the sticks and played.”

He discovered something during that time, he says: “I finally enjoyed it again.”

“The biggest thing was that I took so much time away (from competitive golf) that it was like a big time reset,” he adds. “Your expectations are lowered. Instead of when I used to expect to go and shoot under par almost every time you tee it up, nowadays, you go out and shoot a 74 and go, ‘Well, that wasn’t too bad.’ Your expectations are a little lower. My game has come back quite a bit. I’ve shot a couple under-par rounds here lately. I feel like I’m ready to play in the tournament.”

How could Mombert pass up an opportunity to play in the Oregon Amateur at Bend Golf Club? It was at that course that he played in a junior golf program. It was that course that led him to become a regular at OGA tournaments at 9 years old. It was at that course that he and his family were longtime members. And it is back at Bend Golf Club that Mombert will play in the Oregon Amateur and will be joined by six other BGC men’s club players.

Mombert concedes that “I don’t have any delusions that I’m going to win.” Certainly he will play to the best of his ability, he says, “but there are a lot of good players these days.”

He notes that his goal is to make the cut that trims the 120-player field to 64 following two rounds of stroke play. Those final 64 will then compete in a match-play bracket.

While Mombert’s expectations are far lower than they once were, his local knowledge of the course has resurfaced. Bend Golf Club is much different from what it was when he was a youngster, with fewer trees allowing for more forgiveness on wayward shots. The course, he expects, will play “easier to the guy that doesn’t know the golf course.” But he still knows the tendency of the greens and what positions on the course are most ideal for players.

More important for Mombert, however, is a rekindled joy in tournament golf.

“No question my enthusiasm for the game is higher than when I left it,” he says. “Mostly because I am on the improving curve and my expectations are lower than they were when I played for so many years. But, frustration is a part of the game. All players go through ups and downs, but the true challenge is how long you can make your ‘up’ last and how quickly can you get yourself out of the ‘down.’”