Not all first-year collegiate athletes are guaranteed to compete during their initial season. Many use the first year as a learning experience or are granted a redshirt. Rather than getting discouraged by not playing, freshman Colton Tanner of the University of Utah men’s golf team, uses this as a motivation for next year.
Both of Tanner’s parents are graduates from the U. That was one reason for Tanner to apply. He knew he wanted to play golf at the Division I level, and he was confident that the opportunities of the Pac-12 Conference could get him there. Tanner picked up golf when he was 12-years-old, later than most athletes who play at the collegiate level, and has loved it ever since. Golf has allowed Tanner to fulfill his dream of becoming a DI student-athlete and to follow in his parent’s footsteps.
“It’s super competitive, but it’s super fun to be on a DI team,” Colton Tanner said. “It’s been great in how the athletes are treated [at the University of Utah].”
In high school, Tanner spent his days at a boarding school in South Carolina called the International Junior Golf Academy. He was a two-time representative on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT) Academy Cup Team. The HJGT hosts more nationally ranked events than any other youth division tour. Tanner can take these past experiences and implement them into his time with the Utes.
Tanner said playing for the U has been “everything and a little bit more.” In addition to the more competitive field of golfers, college athletics put more expectation on athletes. They are held accountable for their performance inside and outside of practice and are responsible for following all NCAA rules. Tanner also mentioned that playing golf in the Pac-12 requires doing more than what is asked by coaches. Putting in extra work will separate one competitor from the next in high-level tournaments.
Even though he hasn’t experienced a collegiate match yet, Tanner feels he has learned and improved by being part of the team.
His goals for next year consist of qualifying for the regular season matches as well as making it to the Pac-12 Championship before he graduates. To prepare for high-level golf, Tanner plans to play in many events this summer. While using a redshirt for this year is still up for debate, not being able to compete hasn’t always been smooth sailing, especially when he watches his teammates head off to out-of-state competitions.
“I am really happy that they are playing, but I would also like to play,” Tanner said. “So that’s what I want for next year: to not be at home in Salt Lake. I would like to travel every weekend that we are playing.”