UR Freshman George VanderZwaag played golf all four years of high school at Pittsford Southerland in Pittsford, N.Y. He was a nine-time medalist and co-captained the golf team his senior year. At UR, VanderZwaag has played in the first three tournaments the golf team has attended, and has already earned co-medalist honors once for the Yellowjackets. This week, he recorded his first eagle of the season and shot an impressive eight over par in the Liberty League Championship on Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23.
What is your major?
I’m still undecided, but I’m thinking economics or maybe psychology.
When did you start playing golf?
When I was about eight years old, my dad introduced me to the game.
I like it better because there is more strategy involved, you have to think about every shot and when you play poorly you only have yourself to blame. Golf came naturally to me, so it was what I grew into. It was also the sport I had the best chance of playing here so I went with it.
Do you have a mentor?
Probably my dad. He was the one who really introduced me to the game and I really enjoy playing with him. It’s always fun to just go out, relax and have a fun round with him. He will tell me what he thinks I need to improve on, and he helps keep me calm, so he has been a pretty big influence on how I handle myself during rounds.
Can you beat your dad?
Yes, I consistently beat him. The first time I beat him was probably when I was 12, and he hasn’t beaten me in a while.
What is the best advice a coach has ever given you?
Coach [Dan] Wesley always says “stay in the moment, because every shot counts.” You can’t think about what score you are going to shoot at the end of the day. You just have to worry about each shot individually and try to do as best as you possibly can on that single shot. That’s probably the most important thing in golf — keep everything in perspective.
Do you have a memorable shot from this past weekend’s tournament?
The 14th hole was a dogleg left par five, about 540 yards, but you can cut it off. So I did that and had 200 yards in. My next shot was straight down wind, and I had a blind shot up to the green. I figured if I hit it just short, the wind would take it all the way and it would bounce up onto the green. So I hit a perfect seven iron to the left side of the green. It got up there and was probably about 10 or 12 feet from the hole. I then made the putt for eagle; that was my first eagle in a while, at least first of the season, so that was pretty awesome.
Do you have any superstitions or pre-round rituals?
There are a lot of golfers that are really superstitious, and I am somewhat as well. I know people that will keep a certain number of tees in their pocket, but I always mark my ball the same way, with one dot over the number, and a cross on the side. I also play with the same ball marker every tournament round. If I hit balls on the range prior to the round, I never hit more than two drives, and sometimes I won’t even hit my driver at all.
Do you have any good hole-in-one stories?
I have had one, but it’s kind of weird because it was a late-night round, and I was playing by myself. It wasn’t as cool as it would have been with other people, but it was still pretty cool. I got it on a 210-yard downhill par three and I was able to watch it roll in because it was downhill.
What course do you hope to play someday?
My dream course would be Carnoustie in Scotland. Most people would say they want to play St. Andrews, but Carnoustie is a combination of the classic links style of golf that I really like, and it is also one of the most difficult links courses in Scotland.
Gauthier is a member of the class of 2014.