Coming to Stanford, especially as a kid who grew up in Palo Alto in awe of the Stanford culture, was a dream that didn’t seem achievable until I got that acceptance letter in the mail. As an accomplished local junior golfer, I felt that I would be ready to take the next step into college golf with the ability I already had. I felt that this innate skill would manifest in low scores, good tournaments, and a regular starting position in our lineup.
However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that such a mindset was inherently flawed. After only qualifying for one event in our fall season, I finally decided to make a change, particularly in how I viewed the process of getting better. After much consideration, it became clear that my success in local junior golf had given me this perception that I had to constantly prove myself. I felt that if I didn’t play well, people would start believing that I wasn’t good, that I didn’t have what it takes, and maybe even that I wouldn’t ever get better.
Only when I threw this idea of proving myself out the window did I start to see noticeable change. Rather than trying to show everyone what I was capable of, I fell in love with the idea of improving, of honing my skills. It was at this point that I began to realize that I could look up to my teammates who already knew how to work diligently toward success.
As I began to shift the focus of my practice, I started to realize the importance of having an extremely sharp short game in college golf. When assessing the skills of some of our upperclassmen, such as David Chung and Andrew Yun, I noticed that they had an incredible creativity and an uncanny ability to get up and down. Obviously, this idea was extremely intruiging because it led to the result that I wanted for myself: lower scores. I noticed that Patrick Rodgers knew how to practice diligently and get the most out of the time he spent out on our practice facility.
My experience thus far at Stanford has undoubtedly transitioned to one of learning and has led me to strive for improvement in every facet of my golf game. I believe that my experience up to this point is one that many incoming college golfers can hopefully learn from. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting college, it’s that discipline is a talent in and of itself. Many people know what the right things are to work on to get better, but too few actually implement them.
Many talented junior golfers are excited yet apprehensive about the college golf experience. Whether it’s the worry of balancing school and golf, the worry of making the lineup right away, or just about whether or not the school is the right fit, I would encourage all incoming freshman to throw these worries out the window. Embrace the experience of learning from the guys who have it figured out, and figure out how you can translate what they do into a formula that works for you.