NOAH WRIGHT set a plethora of records in Monticello golf — including lowest nine-hole and 18-hole scores — prior to graduating in 2018 and taking a scholarship at Grace College. He checks in from Winona Lake, Ind.:
Has the college experience, from an athletic perspective, lived up to what you were expecting?
I’d say so. I didn’t really know what to expect. There were a lot of pretty good golfers in the area when I played. Some of them are playing at even a higher level of college golf. NAIA’s kind of unknown, kind of what level of skill’s going to be there. Not a lot of people talk about it. But it’s just as good, in my opinion, as Division II or Division III in terms of skill level. ... The jump from shorter yardages in high school, the farthest we get is probably 6,400, 6,500 yards. And then you jump to college, and nearly every tournament we’ve played in is at least 7,000, 7,100, 7,200 yards. It’s quite a jump.
Have you had to change any aspects of your individual game?
One thing I really needed to gear in on was my short game. I could kind of get away with it in high school because the courses weren’t quite as long and I hit the ball decently far. But once you get into college, everybody hits the ball just as far — 280, 290, 300 (yards), easily.
What was it like getting to play in the National Christian College Athletic Association national championship tournament this season?
We got down my freshman year, the year previous, and I really had no clue what to expect because I had never played in anything of that significance. I’d played state in high school, but never anything like going to nationals and traveling all the way to Florida. It’s probably the farthest I’ve ever gone for any golf trip, anyway. That was really neat. ... We go down to Palm Coast, Fla., and play the Conservatory Course. I knew how I wanted to go about attacking that golf course and what I needed to do because I played it the year prior.
You earned All-America status this season by placing fifth, after just missing in 12th the previous year. What’d that mean to you?
We finished and there were still three more teams coming in behind us, so we could kind of hope. I kind of felt like I knew I’d be in the top 10, but you just never know. Somebody can just go out and shoot some really low scores in the field still. It was probably about an hour of just sitting there, waiting. Once I found out, it was a pretty special moment. My parents actually had the opportunity to fly down and watch me ... and it was the first time my mom had ever watched me play a full round of golf.
You’ve also shot a 69 at Grace College.
I know that was the (program) low for as far as records go, par-wise. I think somebody else had shot a 68, but it was on a par-71. In terms of par it was the low. It was ... mid-April, I believe. We played at Purdue’s home course. It was a one-day, 36-hole event. It was a long day. ... We played from sun-up to sun-down.
Have you played any courses close to Monticello since graduating?
For sure. This past summer I just played around. I played some at the University of Illinois Golf Course. I love playing at Stone Creek. I was very saddened to hear they were closing down.