For the time being, 14-year-old Malcolm Gant has a thin golfing résumé.
He’s played in only one tournament, thus he’s an unlikely candidate to make the Reynolds High School varsity squad as a freshman.
Long odds, however, do not faze Gant, who was four years old the first time he picked up a golf club. Since then, he has continued to learn the nuances of the game much quicker than he did with other sports he participated in (football, basketball and TaeKwon Do).
“With golf, I learned the techniques and picked things up a lot faster,” Gant said. “As I continue to play, I’m finding out that if I stay with it, my dreams will come true. Good things will come.”
Gant spent five summers at the Vic Johnson junior clinic before moving on to join the First Tee of the Triad program, which uses golf as a platform to help youngsters develop life skills and elevate their level of play.
“Malcolm has a natural (golf) swing and he likes to be coached,” said Brandon Redmond, who is Gant’s coach and First Tee’s western associate program director. “He’s very aware of the amount of work it will take to help him achieve his goal. Malcolm is a confident golfer with a mature attitude and that will take him a long way.”
He played his first tournament – the PGA Junior Championships held at Tanglewood – last week, finishing second among the 23 players in the 13-18 age division. Gant shot a 48 on the back nine of the Reynolds Course. He closed out the round by sinking a 30-foot putt on No. 18, which prevented a bogey.
“At first I was nervous, but after finishing the first hole, I got more comfortable,” said Gant, who can drive the ball 290 yards off the tee. “As long as I take my time and not get in a rush, then I’m in a much better position to play the way I feel like I can play. My putting was off, so I know that things could’ve turned out better. There were a few shots I had that fell short of the cup. Overall, playing in my first tournament showed me what areas I need to work on in order for me to keep improving.”
Even with his continued progress, Gant recognizes that there’s much work for him to do between now and high school tryouts next February. It won’t be easy; Reynolds has one of the top high school programs in Forsyth County. Gant will compete for a roster spot against players with a lot more high-level competition experience.
“There’s no question that he’s self-motivated,” said Redmond. “He has a heart and a mindset for playing the game. Anything he puts his mind to, he can do. He loves to compete and he’s put in the time and effort.”
When Gant isn’t on the golf course or driving range working on the individual aspects of his game, he’s actively involved in passing along what he’s learned to others. Over the summer, he served as a volunteer coach for the Ernest Morris Junior Golf Clinic at Winston Lake Golf Course.
“This is my way of giving back to the game,” said Gant. “I want to do all I can to get the word out about golf. I enjoy teaching the game and sharing what I know so they can learn and put what they learn into practice.”