Ty Strafaci walked the fairways of the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral during the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March.
Strafaci, 15, was watching the world’s best golfers strike the ball, but at the same time he harbored hopes that he also was watching his future.
“If I work hard and dedicate myself, maybe I can make it in golf like them,” he said of his dream career.
Making the PGA Tour is pretty much every young golfer’s dream, but it’s usually the longest of long shots. That said, Strafaci is off to a notable start in his quest.
He’s one of Florida’s top junior golfers, playing for high school powerhouse Plantation American Heritage and helping the team to a state title two seasons ago. This past weekend, playing up in age, he won the Quail Ridge event in the 16-18 age division of the Florida Junior Tour at Boynton Beach.
Strafaci won on the second hole of a playoff against one of his best friends, Daniel Whelan of Parkland Douglas High. If they hadn’t been playing against each other for the championship, the other one would have still been there, in the gallery rooting for a good buddy to win.
Florida Junior Tour events, sponsored by the Florida State Golf Association, are important tournaments, and winning one of them is a prestigious accomplishment.
The state tours, particularly the Florida one because of the state’s consistent talent, is considered an initial step toward becoming a professional golfer.
“It’s demanding mentally and physically,” Strafaci said of Florida Junior Tour and American Junior Golf Association events that allow young golfers to hone their games by playing in Florida, across the United States and sometimes around the world.
Strafaci, who carries a 4.8 grade-point-average, recently played in Puerto Rico as part of his tournament schedule.
Another of his favorite tournaments is the Future Masters — and the name of that tournament pretty much explains everything.
How good is Strafaci? As a sophomore in high school, Georgia Tech — one of the country’s top golf schools — offered him a scholarship, and he already orally accepted.
“It’s a giant opportunity to be able to play there,” Strafaci said. “Going there is definitely the right option for me. It was tough finding a great college that fits me. Committing to Georgia Tech takes some of the stress off.”
That allows him to concentrate on the summer junior tournaments and prepare for his final two years in high school — both in academics and golf.
Strafaci helped American Heritage win a state title as a freshman, but this past year the Patriots had to settle for second, falling two strokes short.
“We have something to prove,” he said of next year’s school season. “We want a state championship.”
As for the pros he watched play at Doral, Strafaci said, “Obviously, I see these guys and they are much better than me. I know it takes work. They don’t hit bad shots.”
Nevertheless, he is not discouraged.
“I’m hoping to join them someday,” he said.
THAT’S A FACT, JACK
So you think you hit the ball long? Try playing the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain course in Lijang City, China, and you might rethink things.
The course is a “mere” 8,458 yards. Nope, no break on par — it’s 72.
Try these holes on for size: A par 5 that covers 711 yards, and two other par 5s more than 680 yards. Then there’s a par 4 at 525 yards and a 270-yard par 3.
Let’s hope most of the holes are downhill.