The Birdie Spotlight October
October 6, 2023 / by Moe Melhart
Bay Area native, Youth on Course alum and recent San Diego State grad Diego Schwarz took time out of his busy schedule from his new job at Workday to share about his experience as a member, the impact of the caddy program and the lifelong goal to shoot his age.
Q. How did you get involved with Youth on Course and what was your experience like?
A: I got involved with Youth on Course during the beginning of my golfing journey at San Ramon Golf Club’s Junior Academy. The membership was fun for my friends and I because we were able to play golf courses all over the Bay Area for only $5…with the help of our parents being our chaperones of course.
As a golfer starting out, it is daunting going to a golf club, especially since it is primarily adults. I remember vividly going up to the counter of the golf pro shop for my tee time wearing an oversized golf polo with my hands sweating and stumbling over my words. Once I uttered the words Youth on Course the Pro Shop Manager turned his frown upside down and made sure I was treated with the utmost respect. I gained a sense of pride rocking the Youth on Course membership. I felt appreciated and supported by the golfing community from day one.
My passion for golf skyrocketed and Youth on Course was there every step of the way. I would play every afternoon until the sun went down, but I wanted to be on the golf course more. Then the opportunity to be a caddy with Youth on Course came to me and I knew I had to take advantage of it.
Before I finished middle school I had caddied for professional athletes, C-Suite Executives, and most importantly future mentors and friends that I still keep in touch with today. All of this thanks to the Youth on Course Caddy program. The summer before I started high school I was caddying almost every morning. 5am wake up calls were followed by my dad driving in the morning dark as I put my Youth on Course issued Caddy overalls on.
The members loved seeing a kid beating them to the first tee time of the day. It was rare that I wasn’t picked up to caddy after the first couple of tee times, sometimes I was fought over by the regulars as I made a name for myself at a couple of courses. I’m not sure the exact reason why they were drawn to me. I would like to think it was my caddying skills, but more realistically it was the smiling 13 year old kid wearing a Masters inspired jumpsuit that made the golfers feel like they were about to play Augusta. Nonetheless I felt proud when I put the flagstick in the eighteenth green, took my hat off, and looked the person I was fortunate enough to caddy for in their eyes, and gave them a hearty youth on course handshake. I loved that feeling so much that I just wanted to do it again and again. By the end of the summer Youth on Course sent me an email saying that I was one of the most active caddies in the nation and they wanted to send me a gift for all my hard work. It was a shock because it didn’t feel that hard of work, except for the days that it was a hundred plus degrees outside.
A couple months after the summer ended a leather Sunday bag with my name imprinted on it arrived on my front steps. It was the first thing I’ve ever owned that had my name on it. I felt like a PGA Professional carrying it around, and I still use it to this day. Everytime I see it, it reminds me of the hard work I put into this game, the great memories as a youth golfer with Youth on Course, and how much fun this game truly is
Q. Where are you now, what are you doing and how has did your time as a YOC member impacted your life off the course?
A. I recently graduated from San Diego State University, Cum Laude, with a major in Management Information Systems. After graduation I traveled Europe for three months, with one of the stops being Rome, where I could feel the Ryder cup anticipation brewing.
Now, I am starting my career at Workday, a SAAS Company in the Bay Area, as an Associate Quality Assurance Engineer. Golf is huge at Workday, so much so that Workday sponsors a PGA tour Event, The Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, and a couple of PGA golfers.
Golf is a special sport because whether it's caddying or going to play a round you never know who you are going to play with. On the course I’ve been alongside golfers ages ranging from 8 to 80, people that walk all different professional paths, and definitely different temperaments when it comes to the state of their game. So as you can guess I’ve developed a unique skill set in being able to talk to anyone and everyone and reading the room.
In golf and in life there are a lot of opportunities to do the wrong thing or take the easy way out, on the flip side there's a lot of opportunities to do the right thing. I try to tackle life like a golf round, by being honest to myself and the people around me, treating everyone with respect, and being prideful in myself and the game I love.
Q. What do you hope to do with your future and what are your next steps?
A. The world is going to change exponentially in the coming decades. To put it in perspective, the first iPhone came out only 16 years ago, imagine what's going to happen in another 16. So for the foreseeable future I plan on sharpening my Ax in the tech industry. With the emphasis on learning from experiences and pioneers in the field, snatching opportunities, and going down the path less traveled. Ideally it will be a path with a golf course nearby so I can practice my game, one of my life goals is to shoot my age.