At the Pac-12 Championships this past April, University of Utah golfer Nathan Wunderli recorded his second hole-in-one of the season, which made him the first Ute in school history to rack up two hole-in-ones in the same season. The accomplishment that took place at Boulder Country Club in Boulder, Colorado, came just weeks after Wunderli earned his first hole-in-one at the Duck Invitational.
“They were both of really good shots,” Wunderli said. ”But at the same time you don’t expect them to go in.”
With family in attendance both times, Wunderli was thrilled to have them witness it all first-hand.
“That was really a major highlight,” said John Wunderli, Nathan’s father. “It’s one of those things where as a parent and as a parent of somebody who plays the game of golf, which is very frustrating, there’s a lot of really difficult times, but that’s one of those moments where you feel like it’s all worth it.”
Although Nathan credits those unforgettable moments of his college career to luck, being able to play college golf and represent Utah is the opposite of that — it’s the result of his hard work and competitive drive to succeed that got Nathan to where he is now.
Nathan was born back East, outside of Washington D.C. At the age of five, he began playing golf in New York City and D.C. where he was playing on a driving range, hitting golf balls out over the Hudson River. Nathan thrived on the green, but that wasn’t the only sport he was interested in as a kid. He took up basketball and baseball before realizing golf was the sport that he felt most comfortable playing.
Nathan didn’t hit his growth spurt until he was 17 years old, and he grew to the height he is now. However, being the smallest kid in his entire class his sophomore year of high school wasn’t what Nathan was hoping to achieve, but he realized height didn’t have to affect him in a negative way when it came to athletics.
“Golf’s a sport you can play no matter what size you are,” Nathan said. “No matter what kind of physical disadvantages you have.”
After he began to add on the inches, he gravitated heavily towards golf as the sport he wanted to pour his time and effort into improving at.
Nathan moved to Utah where he attended Brighton High School. After coming off of a dominating junior season that included being named Utah’s Golfer of the Year and having the opportunity to travel to national tournaments, Nathan was making noise. Several colleges in the state of Utah were beginning to recruit him, but one of those schools stood out above the rest.
“I’ve always been a U fan,” Nathan said. “I’ve always supported all the athletic teams. I wore red all the time, so that’s the team I wanted to play for.”
His parents, John and Deborah, both graduated from the U. John also served as a former Utah Student Body President. Following in his parents’ footsteps to become a Ute was something John described as being “fantastic,” because after moving away from the East Coast and back home to Utah, the university that held fond memories for the two of them once again became a major part of their lives.
“It’s really so fun for me,” John said. “Nate’s mom and I are diehard Ute fans. … To be able to come back home and have him play for Utah is just so much fun.”
With two college years under his belt, Nathan is now heading into his junior season. His time spent at the U playing the game he loves has taught him lessons that sports teach best — never give up and always be persistent.
“In golf you have a month or two where you’re just not playing well, and it gets frustrating,” Nathan said. “I think that causes a lot of people to quit, but what separates I feel like college players or people who’ve gone far in golf or sports in general is that they stick to it.”
Whether he has been on the verge of qualifying for an event and made it or fell just short, Nathan remains true to what he preaches — practice hard, get out on the golf course and just let it fly.