Unlike many college students who change their major or career plans several times during college, senior Ryan Young has wanted to design golf courses since he was in middle school — and he is still pursuing this dream. Young has played for Whitworth’s golf team since his freshman year and he hopes to incorporate his passions for golf and art into his future. He will graduate with a degree in art administration in May and hopes to make a career out of playing golf or designing golf courses.
He began playing golf in sixth grade and immediately loved it because it fit with his personality.
“It’s just the type of person I am. I’m self-motivated,” Young said. “Golf is an individual sport. It’s all on you. However much I put into working out, practicing, focusing, it shows when I get out there.”
Young set the course for his future in eighth grade when he decided to pursue golf course design, which involves finding land, site development, designing the holes and layout of the course and building the community around it.
“[My choice] decided my next eight years, and it helped me focus in high school,” he said. “It’s still happening, which is kind of weird. I’m still living my eighth grade dream.”
“I want to make a career of playing golf or golf course architecture — travelling, being outdoors and doing what I love.”
Because of his future plans, Young has worked at various golf courses and is helping construct the Gamble Golf Resort in Brewster this summer.
However, he gained a different type of experience this past summer as the head golf coach at Camp All-Star in Chattanooga, Tenn.
He was selected from more than 1,000 applicants and worked with campers and coaches from across the world.
For Young, working at Camp All-Star was a learning experience, and it allowed him to be the teacher instead of the student.
“It was definitely weird [to be the teacher], but I was excited to live in a different part of the country and meet different coaches,” he said.
Young enjoyed sharing his love for golf with the campers.
“I’m passionate about the game, and this was my chance to teach young kids and help them like the game.”
Coaching also reinforced his career choice and helped him improve his own golf game.
“The joy of teaching other people how to play golf really solidified that I want to be in this industry,” Young said. “I think that teaching helped me get better, and it really re-motivated me.”
Young has had his share of success on Whitworth’s golf team. Last year, he was the Northwest Conference Player of the Year and helped the team qualify for the NCAA DIII championship tournament in Hershey, Pa.
This season, Whitworth finished in third place in the NWC behind Linfield College and University of Puget Sound, facing some difficult weather conditions during the spring.
The team was ranked 24th in the nation and third in the West region in the NCAA Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Division III men’s coaches’ poll on April 6, but Young said that weather conditions were frustrating and this spring was difficult for him.
“I feel like as a senior, I should carry the team with my scores, but I haven’t been able to contribute as much,” he said.
Warren Friedrichs, Whitworth athletic director and golf coach, said that Young is “a hard worker and a team leader” on and off the golf course.
“He has a really good short game, and he always finds a way to piece together a good score,” Friedrichs said. “Ryan is tough mentally and has really matured as a player.”
Young was focused on this season, but he is still weighing his options for the future. He said he has to decide if he wants to pursue professional golf after graduation.
Next year, he might play in the National Professional Mini Tour, a new mini tour in the Pacific Northwest.
This would give him feedback before trying to go to qualifying school, also known as Q-school, which is a competitive series o0f qualifying tournaments for leading golf tours like the Professional Golf Association.
“I’ve invested too much of my life to give up,” he said. “I want to try and see if it works out.”
If he does not play professional golf, Young will go to graduate school to study landscape architecture with a focus on golf course architecture.
Friedrichs said that golf course design is a good fit for Young.
“He’s a smart kid, very focused and directed when he sets his mind to it,” Friedrichs said. “He has a fun passion like golf, and he wants to make it an artistic endeavor.”
However, the industry is struggling because of the economy. Young said that it has dropped from approximately 400 new courses constructed each year to eight.
Young said that because of this, he may work abroad, and his Spanish and business minors will be useful.
The future is uncertain, Young said.
“It’s seemed pretty easy so far, but now that I’m at the end, I’m scared. ,” he said. “I’ve been planning for years. Now it’s real.”