U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Maruyama, Coody Seek to Build on Careers of Father, Grandfather July 17, 2018 | Springfield, N.J. By Stuart Hall

Sean Maruyama has spent much of his childhood watching his father, Shigeki Maruyama, play golf. Now, it's his turn. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

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Sean Maruyama, 18, admits to times over the years when he and his father butted heads, like most teens and parents. However, when the wisdom being espoused by his father pertains to golf, he has found the proper response is to listen intently.

“He’s taught me pretty much everything… chipping, putting, my irons, my drivers,” said Maruyama, whose father is three-time PGA Tour winner and five-time U.S. Open competitor Shigeki Maruyama.

“We have had some ups and downs through the years. It’s never easy being a father and you’re teaching your son,” said Sean. “It gets frustrating at times. But we are able to work through that because I know I am going to get better if I just listen.”

Maruyama has heeded his father’s words well.

This week’s U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club is Maruyama’s third USGA championship. He partnered with Clay Seeber as the youngest side in the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball field and he played in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, advancing to the Round of 16 before falling to eventual champion Noah Goodwin.

On Monday, Maruyama opened with a 1-under 69 on the Lower Course.

Maruyama is not the only player in this week’s field to have influential golf lineage. Parker Coody, 18, of Plano, Texas, is the grandson of 1971 Masters champion Charles Coody, who tied for 28th in the 1967 U.S. Open on Baltusrol’s Lower Course. Also, Ty Griggs, 16, of Manteca, Calif., is a distant cousin of Francis Ouimet, the 1913 U.S. Open and 1914 and 1931 U.S. Amateur champion.

“He’s been a real big influence, was right there each step of the way when we were younger,” said Coody, whose twin brother, Pierceson, is also an accomplished golfer who has played in this championship. “Grandpa has this course in Abilene and we love to go out there and play.

“When we started focusing solely on golf, that’s when we really began asking questions, wanting to know why that happens, what he felt and what he did to win tournaments. Just those little things that make a difference.”

Parker Coody takes every opportunity he has to learn from his grandfather, Charles Coody, the 1971 Masters champion. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Maruyama’s path into golf was only natural. He began playing around the age he could walk and grasp a club, which coincided with the height of his father’s PGA Tour career. Shigeki won once each season from 2001-2003, and was an International Team member in the 1998 and 2000 Presidents Cups. He tied for fourth in the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, one of three top-10 performances in majors.

“He obviously made me want to play golf in the first place, and I probably wouldn’t be playing golf right now if it were not for him,” said Maruyama, who will play at UCLA starting in the fall. “I visited multiple PGA Tour events, was out there on the range watching professionals hit and play, so it’s been crazy the little things you learn. It’s been a goal of mine, so now I’m just working hard to get to that point.”

Getting to this juncture, though, has not always been easy.

Early in Maruyama’s golf journey, he absorbed his father’s every word. As he matured, the protégé began forming opinions that sometimes ran counter to his father.

Shigeki Maruyama was open to hear his son’s point of view as long as there was sound reasoning behind it. Otherwise, father knew best.

Coody can empathize to a degree.

“[Grandpa, who just turned 81] sees the game differently than the modern game, so every once in a while, we will butt heads,” said Coody, who will advance to Wednesday’s Round of 64 after shooting 5-under 136 in stroke play. “I know he’s watching the scores online. If he sees something, we’ll text or talk on the phone about a particular hole and what happened, what could have been done differently. But for the most part, he just wants me to stay in it, stay positive.”

Disagreements aside, Maruyama is appreciative of his father’s counsel, which is becoming less frequent as Sean has improved and started carving out his own career.

“Even though we have some differences, he’s still going to be my coach,” he said. “That probably won’t change for awhile.”

He still remains dad, after all.

Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA digital channels.

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