VESTAL, N.Y. – When it comes to playing golf, for most people, it’s simply a recreational activity.
It’s meant to help de-stress and relieve some of life’s pressure.
However, for one local golfer, the higher the stakes, the more he enjoys it.
“I enjoy just being in contention, and the competition of the tournament. So, if I can put myself in contention, from that point on, I just go out and have fun. Just kind of see what happens and enjoy it,” B.U. golfer D.J. Griffiths says.
It takes a special type of person to be able to perform on the biggest stages.
For Binghamton University golfer D.J. Griffiths, his ability to stay cool under pressure may be his biggest advantage on the golf course.
“If I play a normal tournament, I usually play good. But, sometimes, I’m not as focused. So, if I think of it as like a bigger golf tournament, sometimes I focus more. So, I mean, I kind of hope I get nervous a little bit because that means I’m in the right place.”
D.J. used that approach to his advantage on July 8 when he shot a 3-under 141 over 36 holes to tie for first place out of 68 golfers at the U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifier at Seven Oaks Golf Club in Hamilton.
His head coach at BU, Bernie Herceg, was keeping a close eye on his star student-athlete that day.
“As guys were coming in, I see that he’s in the lead. I’m like ‘jeez, he could probably even bogie a hole on the back nine and get in. I’m just waiting for them to update it, update it, update it. Then, they finally did and I’m like Yes, because he ended up being the low for the day there. So, it was pretty impressive,” he said.
With the win there, Griffiths is off to North Carolina where he’ll compete for the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst No. 2.
He’ll be up against the top amateur competition in the sport.
But, with his strong mentality, D.J. believes he has every chance of winning as the rest of the field.
“I can’t go into it thinking I’m less, not as good as a lot of the players. I mean, I earned my right to be there just as much as anyone else. So, my goal is to definitely make it to match play, and just kind of put myself in contention and see where I can go from there.”
In order to play his way into contention, he’s going to need the help of one of his favorite clubs at the moment.
“Lately, it’s been the putter. At the qualifier, I definitely wouldn’t have had a shot at qualifying without the putter. So, I think the putter, even the last spring season and the summer has been the club that’s been hot for me and has been working the best for me.”
While Griffith is feeling his putter right now, Herceg knows how complete D.J.’s game really is.
“His swing is very sound mechanically. He’s played in a lot of events throughout his junior career, so he has playing experience. His game is very sound, very consistent. He’s probably the longest player on our team also. So, he has all the tools and right now, he’s at a level where it’s up here. Going into tournaments and stuff, it’s going to be more of his mental game that’s going to get him to another level as he keeps competing.”
With his buddy Hogan as his caddy, and family in the crowd, D.J. wants to put on a good show for them.
However, the Susquehanna Valley grad also wants to perform well for B.U. and the local community.
“I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it without the support of my parents and coaches and family and everything. So, it definitely means a lot to be there and just kind of represent, and do the best I can do.”
D.J. and the rest of the field get underway at Pinehurst on Monday August 12 in Stroke Play.