It is no different in golf. While there is a seemingly endless pool of talent in the college ranks these days, only a select few will be fortunate enough to make it to the PGA and LPGA tours.
This is where the term student-athlete really takes on its true meaning. Annually, college golfers have the highest GPAs and graduation rates across the board. Most players go on to have successful careers in whatever endeavor they choose. But as I said, there are those select few who go on to become the stars of tomorrow.
Making it to the big show is no easy task, even for the most talented player. Last week at the LPGAs first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, three collegians were in the field - Dukes Virada Nirapathpongporn, Pepperdines Lindsey Wright and Southern Californias Becky Lucidi. While Nirapathpongporn and Wright made it to the weekend, Lucidi, the reigning U.S Amateur champion. did not.
But that is not what is important here. The consensus among all three players was the same. The week was an experience that can only help them as players and people. It is on-the-job training, learning from the games best. It is hard to think of many opportunities that are afforded to other student-athletes, like the one these three young ladies received.
The same can be said for the upcoming Masters tournament. Three more collegiate standouts will have the chance to see where their games stack up against Tiger and crew. Arizonas Ricky Barnes, Oklahoma States Hunter Mahan and UNLVs Ryan Moore will make the drive down Magnolia Lane, just like every other player. And while it would be like catching lightning in a bottle to think one of these three would be donning the green jacket come Sunday evening, it is the bigger picture they need to keep in mind: the experiencethe memoriesand most importantly, what they learn from their time at The Augusta National.
Because while these players continue to excel on the college level, some will find success faster than others, whether it is in golf or anything else for that matter. But it is the education - both in the classroom and on the golf course - which will prove invaluable to them as they traverse the many curves which life has to offer.