Summer is often looked at as a time of rest and relaxation before the trials of the school year return in the fall. But for sophomore golfer CJ Swift, it was a time for taking steps toward greatness.
Swift competed amongst some of the best amateur golfers in the nation in several tournaments, the most prestigious being the 112th U.S. Amateur Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo., in August.
Swift also made the cut by finishing in the runner-up spot at the TPC River Highlands qualifier after winning the New England Amateur Championship four days earlier.
Spending a summer on the links is often connotated with recreation, but for Swift it meant adding accolades to not only his own name, but to the entire Marquette golf program.
By qualifying for the Amateur Championship, the New Canaan, Conn., native’s name is now added to a list that includes former Marquette great Mike Van Sickle and legends of the game like Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
“It’s really exciting and obviously gives him a ton of confidence coming into the year,” coach Steve Bailey said. “(Swift) showed a lot of talent in his freshman year, but it was mostly spotty, and for him to have a summer like that, it’s very exciting for the program. The U.S. Amateur is the premier amateur event in the country and possibly the world.”
Despite finishing first in the New England Championship with a 2-under-par 283, Swift said the U.S. Amateur provided the “coolest” experience.
“Walking up to the first tee having my name called at the championship was pretty special,” Swift said. “Some pretty big names have won that trophy, and I was glad to be a part of that tournament. I hope to make it back for the rest of my career.”
With Swift returning to compete for a team that struggled his freshman year, he and Bailey are both aware that his experiences have elevated him to a leadership position on the squad.
“I think especially with four new guys coming in, they’re going to look up to him,” Bailey said. “It elevates everyone’s games as they’re all going to want to work to get to the level that he’s at.”
Swift has already earned the envy of the Golden Eagles’ lone senior Ryan Prickette, who said Swift had done something that “we all have dreamed of.”
“The fact he’s been somewhere where none of us have gives him a lot of respect from us,” Prickette said.
But while many would be boastful of such accomplishments, Swift keeps a level head. Prickette describes him as “really, really laid back” and more calm than most of the players on the team.
To go with that cool demeanor is a smooth swing that Bailey compared to that of pro golfer Fred Couples, minus the loafers.
“If he can fine tune some stuff with his short game and get a lot more comfortable with a putter he’s in for a big year,” Bailey said.
Swift’s off-season may have been phenomenal, but with the always challenging slate of fall tournaments looming ahead, his skill will continue to be put to the test.
With a burst of confidence and a knowledge of his own talent, however, Swift could be on the verge of one of the better seasons in recent memory by a Marquette golfer.