By Brandon Spratt – [email protected]
Arizona State, Auburn, Stanford, Virginia and St. John’s. What do these five schools have in common?
Currently all five schools have a student-athlete nominated for the Golf Coaches’ Association of America (GCAA) Byron Nelson Award.
For St. John’s, that golfer is senior Mack Farley.
“Obviously, it’s a huge honor to be up there with those names and I think their golf resumes might be a little bit better than mine,” Farley said.
He’s right—the other golfers have some impressive experience.
Stanford’s Maverick McNealy is one of the top amateur golfers in the world; he played in the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst when he was 18 and has tied Tiger Woods’ Stanford school record of collegiate tournament victories at 11.
Jimmy Stanger of Virginia played in the recent Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour.
But SJU Head Golf Coach Bob Alpers knows that Farley has more to offer besides being an accomplished player.
“What I heard from the committee members is that social awareness and the service project that he headed up really set him apart from the other candidates,” Alpers said.
Farley helped bring the Kids Fighting Hunger Project to SJU in March of 2016. Kids Fighting Hunger is a non-profit organization based in St. Cloud.
The event was successful enough that the project was brought back for another year. On March 19, 2017 the project raised over $12,000 and packed 82,000 meals for Somalia and the local food shelves.
“I was talking with Coach Alpers about this and I was imagining that we had a bunch of young men from St. John’s who were excited to help,” Farley said.
The project will be continued next year by returning members of the SJU Golf Team, much to Farley’s delight.
Along with the golfing and community service, the committee also emphasizes academic achievement and good citizenship.
Farley fits the academic criteria having achieved a 3.96 GPA while double-majoring in accounting and economics. The golf season is unique in that it is split between both fall and spring semesters which means he’s always busy.
“If I’m really busy I get a lot more done, where if I don’t have a lot to do I tend to put stuff off,” Farley said. “Being busy motivates you to do as best as you can when you have time to do it. This is great wisdom for any college student or life in general.”
Farley’s teammate and fellow senior Ryan Gallagher talked about the leadership that Farley provides for the team.
“In the classroom and at the course, he’s just a natural leader,” Gallagher said. “It’s a quiet leadership, but he sets a really good example for the rest of us.”
Gallagher also emphasized that Farley is a hard worker, and Alpers agrees. Both said that his golf game has improved tremendously since his first year on campus.
Perhaps that improvement is what led the Johnnies to the MIAC team golf title last fall—the first for the team since Farley’s first-year season. Farley said the conference championship is his favorite golf memory, and it automatically qualifies the Johnnies for the Division III National Championships in May.
Since the GCAA began awarding the Byron Nelson Award in 2002, only two non-DI golfers have won the award.
Farley recently conducted an interview with the committee, and is hopeful to find out the results in the next few weeks.
As for how he will wrap up his golf career at SJU, Farley is looking forward to the National Championships and one last chance to play with his teammates.
“I think we have a deep team and a bunch of guys that can play well,” Farley said. “Right now, our top five is playing awesome, and I think we can play with anybody in the country.”