From the SMU Digital Marketing Team
While many children learn common sports such as swimming and taekwondo in childhood, not many would have chosen a sport such as golf. Well, national golfer Ryan Ang is the exception. The national team member was introduced to the sport by his father at the tender age of five. “My father took me to the driving range to see how he hit a few balls and I was soon fascinated by how far he hit the balls. The next thing I knew was that I was swinging a kid’s golf club and loved the feeling of hitting the golf ball as far as possible. “
This resulted in Ryan playing golf competitively in elementary school at the Inter-Primary School Golf Championships. And the enthusiastic athlete, whose hobbies include other sports such as badminton, table tennis and frisbee, has not regretted it since then.
And although there have been some highlights in Ryan’s golf career so far, the 22-year-old shares that qualifying for the national team in 2020 was his most significant achievement. “I am now able to represent the country and fly the flag while doing a sport I love!”
Today, the SMU School of Accountancy’s sophomore and part-time teaching assistant has bigger goals in his sights and wants to reach for the stars while he still can.
Besides the national team, what other highlights are there in your golf career?
I recently won the Singapore Open Amateur Championship, the largest amateur event in Singapore, which earned me a spot at the SMBC Singapore Open in January 2022. For me, this victory was the greatest in my competitive career so far and it is particularly significant as the field was strong for the event and was played on a demanding golf course. In addition, this win enables me to play at one of the largest regional professional events at Sentosa Golf Club next year!
It must not be easy to reconcile school and training. How do you do it?
I believe in goal setting as it helps me stay motivated while juggling various commitments. Pursuing a few goals each year in golf and in my studies allows me to stay focused and keep my drive high as I work to achieve them within the timeframe I set. In addition, my passion for sport has helped me to stay true to my path and to remain motivated despite the many challenges that lie ahead of me.
Since the Tokyo Olympics, the importance of maintaining mental health and wellbeing has been in the spotlight, especially for athletes dealing with so much pressure. How do you deal with the stress?
The national team has a performance mindset coach who works with us to help develop awareness of our thoughts and how our minds work during a competition versus a typical day. This helps us maintain our well-being and sanity, and make sure we don’t burn ourselves out.
On a personal level, I keep reminding myself to enjoy the game and appreciate the process. It is easy to focus too much on winning and being good, which inadvertently overburdens yourself and ultimately leads to injuries, burnouts, and mental breakdowns. Continuing to enjoy the sport and appreciate how far I have come helps me stay in the present and maintain my general well-being.
Which life skills have you acquired from your sport?
I feel that at such a high level the sport has taught me a lot of skills. As I learned at a very young age, it is important to manage my time well, to balance my curriculum with that of golf training and to take time out for family and friends.
In addition, it has also taught me to control my emotions and behave properly as my behavior on the golf course reflects my character and upbringing. Finally, one of the many things I’ve learned from competitive golf is perseverance. I realized that it takes a little more to control my nerves and stay focused on the last holes of a competition to emerge victorious.
It is well known that behind every successful athlete there is an unwavering support system. How did the SMU support you in your sporting career?
I am very grateful for all the support SMU has given me to pursue my passion. The school gave me the flexibility to plan my lessons. That helped me a lot because I can plan courses around the training days with the national team and my training units. In addition, the professors have been friendly and accommodating when I miss classes in order to take part in tournaments.
What’s next for you in golf?
Going forward, I hope to represent Singapore at major games like the SEA Games and the Asian Games, with the Olympics being a possible destination. I want to keep playing golf at a high level and take part in more professional events around the world.
This is part of a series with young athletes from the SMU. Be on the lookout for more inspiring stories from our student athletes pushing new boundaries in their respective arenas.