Running a successful business is a lot like being good at golf. The same qualities that are indispensable to managing a business such as confidence, decision-making and knowledge, can easily translate to playing a game of golf. Luckily for Danny Lewis, a senior, he has all these qualities.
For Lewis, golf and business come hand in hand. You can see and feel the confidence in Lewis as he walks through the hall of the Student Union and in the way he holds eye contact while answering questions calmly and knowledgeably. He is a Sports Business major and qualified to play in the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship in Tacoma, Wash. at Chambers Bay Golf Course Aug. 23-29.
Lewis was not always a U.S. Amateur quality player. He always worked on his game in order to become a better player, from following his dad around the golf course at the age of eight, to being somewhat of a golf afterthought. It wasn’t until his senior year of high school at Little Miami in Morrow, Ohio that Lewis began to get serious about golf.
Some of that practice time could be credited to Bellwood Country Club in Morrow where Lewis works in the club pro shop.
“It’s a good job because it allows me to play a lot of free golf,” Lewis said.
After high school he knew he wanted to play golf in college, but no golf programs except for NKU were of any interest to him. NKU offered Lewis a scholarship that was enough for him to attend the university.
“NKU offered me a small scholarship, so I called Coach Landrum, asked for an interview, and went from there,” Lewis said.
Lewis wanted to test his skills on a higher level by attempting to qualify for the U.S. Amateur. In order to qualify, he needed to finish in the top three in a tournament at the Cold Stream Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio. This year was his fourth attempt at qualifying for the U.S. Amateur and he felt it was his best chance.
“I was just frustrated with myself because I knew I had the skills to get there,” Lewis said.
On his fourth attempt at qualifying, Lewis finished second by shooting two under par with a score of 70 on the first 18 holes, an even par, which was 72 on the second 18 holes. His two-round total of 142 was good enough for him to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur field.
“I was excited and so were my parents, but they were like, now we got to pay for your way to Washington,” Lewis said.
Lewis raised enough money to afford his trip to Washington through donations from family members and with the help from the members at Bellwood Country Club. After receiving the donations, he and his caddy, Steve Rickels, a sophomore on the golf team, were off to Washington to play in one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the world. In this tournament, He would be competing against players from as far away as China. Despite the circumstances, the caddy may have been more excited than the player.
“It was pretty cool. I’ve never been to a big tournament like that before,” Rickels said.
Lewis also had the support from his coach and teammates from the Norse golf team. “Coach wished me luck because he knew I was as good as those guys,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he was nervous during his first tee shot of the tournament, but came into his comfort zone after that. Adding to the pressure, he was to play with hometown favorite, T.J. Bordeaux. Bordeaux, who plays for Pacific University and a Tacoma, Wash. native, had the crowd’s support from the beginning.
“I could tell the crowd was pulling for him, but he was a good guy,” Lewis said. “Most of the fans were supportive; they just wanted to see some good golf most of all.”
Rickels was also a little overwhelmed by the size of the crowd.
“We had 100 people watching us,” Rickels said. “We might get five people per group for a college tournament. I’ve never seen that many people for one group before.”
Lewis finished the tournament 155 out of 312 by shooting seven over par in the first round and five over par in the second round, for a two-round total of 155. He missed match play by six strokes, which would have put him in the final stages of the championship. Despite missing the last stages of the tournament, Lewis learned a lot about himself.
“It was a good experience, I learned I could play with these guys,” Lewis said.
Rickels also thought Lewis held his own during the tournament. “He had some trouble with his putts, but he played respectable,” Rickels said.
Even though playing in a tournament of that magnitude is a great experience and confidence booster, Lewis still has the upcoming golf season for NKU to look forward to.
“I feel good about this year. We should have a good team (and) hopefully win nationals,” Lewis said.
After graduation, Lewis would like to continue his dream and try out the professional ranks.
“I’ll probably give the pros a shot next year if I feel like my skills are good enough,” Lewis said. “I’d like to try some qualifier events with the Nationwide Tour.”
Story by Derick Bischoff