The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long-time corporate partner, the SwingThought TOUR, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing or have played on the SwingThought TOUR. Long considered the premier developmental tour in the United States, thousands of former college players have started their professional careers there. More than 250 SwingThought TOUR alumni have or continue to play on the PGA TOUR.
This month we spoke with Yoshio Yamamoto, who was a three-time member of the All Ohio Valley Conference Team at Austin Peay State.
Q: At what age did you start playing golf?
I started playing golf when I was 6. I started tagging along my dad and brother who played at the time.
Q: At what point did you know you wanted to play golf in college?
When I turned 14 and I started playing well at national level events. I won my first national event at age 14.
Q: How did you determine where you were going to play?
I met Coach Mark Leroux (APSU coach at the time) in a Junior event in my home course and he started recruiting me. I had a few other options but after going to my official visit and seeing the success the team had it was an easy choice to attend Austin Peay.
Q: You had a very successful collegiate career at Austin Peay. What were some of your best collegiate golf experiences?
The best experience in my college career was hands down at Xavier’s Tournament my Junior Year. We ended up tying Xavier and it was the only time in college where I was part of a team playoff. Playing against them at their home course and coming out on top on the second playoff hole was a memorable experience. I would say the other tournament that stands out would be the University of St. Louis event my sophomore year which was my only individual win in college.
Q: Did you enjoy playing golf as a team sport?
I did. Golf is such an individual game that playing as part of a team brought something different from what I was used to. I loved the fact that no matter what, you had to keep grinding because we counted four out of our five scores.
Q: What was the toughest adjustment going from collegiate golf to professional golf?
The level of play was so much better. In college, it seemed like if you could keep your score around par you would almost guarantee a top 10. In professional events, it is very rare when you make a cut shooting even par. The fields on professional golf are deeper as far as players with a chance to win it compared to college.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you offer current collegiate golfers hoping to have professional careers?
I feel that college players come out better prepared for pro golf than we did back when I turned pro. It doesn’t matter what school you attended. I would recommend playing developmental tours to get the feel of what traveling on a budget is. We were all spoiled in college where everything was done for us, but I think that learning to travel and set up a schedule as well as sticking to a budget is very important in professional golf, especially coming out of college.
Q: What do you consider the best aspects of playing on the SwingThought TOUR?
Well the SwingThought TOUR was the first professional tour I ever played in. I love the level of play and the competitiveness. I also think it prepares you for the next level as far as travel and getting better. I learned a lot from other players on how to prepare myself, and what to do moving forward with my career. And I love the sense of a family atmosphere the staff and the events we have each week (Pro-am, Shootouts, Cookouts, Long Drive Contests, Junior Clinics) and the fact they offer private housing. Staying at a hotel and eating out every meal gets expensive and old quick!
Q: What is your favorite part of life as a professional golfer?
The fact that I get to do what I love every day. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to different countries because of golf. You get to experience different food and cultures.
Q: What is the best round of golf you have ever played?
I shot a 61 in a local mini tour event, eleven birdies and seven pars.