U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Vick Content With Decision to Pursue Golf Over Football, Baseball
July 18, 2018 | Springfield, N.J.
By Stuart Hall
Travis Vick was facing a conundrum. As a three-sport prep star at Second Baptist School in Houston, Texas, Vick was attracting the attention of college coaches for his play in baseball, football and golf.
To be truly proficient in one sport, he needed to abandon two.
Vick sought the counsel of Hal Sutton, a family friend and swing coach to the young Vick. Sutton, the 1980 U.S. Amateur and 1983 PGA champion, has always been a straight shooter. He did not mince words.
“You need to dig it out of the dirt,” Sutton advised Vick.
Translation: If you want to play at the next level, you have to commit to putting in the work.
Since Vick, 18, of Hunters Creek Village, Texas, began playing golf with his father at age 3 and won a local tournament two years later, the game has always held his heart.
“The sport teaches you about life,” he said. “It’s the only sport where you have to call the penalty on yourself. It’s a game of integrity and it’s an individual game, which I like. It’s up to you to determine how good you want to be, not anyone else. You’re determining your own destiny.”
That perspective did not make the decision any easier. Vick loves to compete, which is why he continued to play both football and baseball this past school year. Not until a week before recently deciding to attend the University of Texas in fall 2019, did Vick make the definitive decision to pursue his golf passion.
“Yesssss,” Vick said emphatically when asked if the decision was difficult.
“Especially heading into my senior year,” he said. “Senior year is a little different, a bit more special than all the other years, but I felt like it was the right decision. It’s my obligation to my coach that I am at the peak of my game going into college.”
The words from 2004 USA Ryder Cup captain Sutton did not truly resonate with Vick until earlier this summer when he began playing amateur events with stronger, deeper fields than on the junior circuit. He missed the cut at the Sunnehanna Amateur and tied for 15th in the Northeast Amateur Invitational.
“Any time you play in an amateur event like the Northeast or Sunnehanna, it’s eye-opening,” he said. “The scoring differential [compared to junior tournaments] … at Sunnehanna I shot 11 over and missed the cut. That would have made the cut if the juniors had played there, but I missed it by two or three. So it’s a matter of managing my game better. Bottom line is I need have a club in my hands every day.”
Nevertheless, Vick’s part-time golf resume is not too shabby.
Twice he won the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 5A individual title. After advancing to match play in the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur, Vick returned the following year to earn stroke-play medalist honors and reach the Round of 16. Vick, who is No. 206 in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM, made the first double eagle in U.S. Junior Amateur championship history on Monday en route to earning the No. 14 seed in match play.
Vick is cognizant that he may be a bit behind on the learning curve compared to his contemporaries, but he does not regret the choice to play three sports for as long as he did.
“You’re only going to be a kid once in your life,” said Vick, who was an all-state linebacker, all-district quarterback and a pitcher/third baseman who had NCAA Division I coaches calling.
He’s a bit wistful knowing that in a few weeks his former teammates will begin donning pads in preparation for the upcoming football season.
“In Texas, football is king,” he said. “Friday night lights is by far the most fun thing I have been a part of, just the camaraderie at the school. Being the quarterback, being able to lead the team out of the tunnel was even cooler.
“But I am definitely not going to miss the dreaded practices, or the soreness after games, or all the film we have to watch, or the yelling and screaming and stress that was involved. No, I am not going to miss that.”
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA digital channels.