Texas A&M's Greg Yates Looks to Join the PGA Tour
Greg Yates, Mansfield High School alumnus. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics.
Born and raised in Arlington, Yates has played golf since he was 3 years old. With his parents alumni of Texas A&M, as well as four others (aunt, uncle and two cousins), it was the obvious choice for him to study and continue playing the game he loved. However, it became apparent his freshman year that he wasn't quite ready to play golf at the college level. He redshirted the 2010-11 season, and went on to accomplish many things as a student and golfer at Texas A&M, including winning the Coach Bob Ellis Leadership Award two years in a row.
Yates caught up with us to talk about his life, his education, golf, and the future.
Mansfield Magazine: You’ve been playing golf for a really long time. Take us through the early stages of your career.
Greg Yates: My grandpa was the one who pretty much taught me. He babysat me during the day when I was growing up and would take me to the golf course while my parents were working. I didn’t know if I wanted to play golf really competitively, and even in college, until middle school. I realized I was better at golf than basketball and baseball, which I also played at the time. I figured I’d give that a chance. That’s what I stuck with throughout high school.
MM: What's your absolute favorite course you’ve ever played on?
Yates: I’d have to go with Los Angeles Country Club. We got to play it my freshman year before nationals at Rivieria (Country Club), which is just down the road from it. It’s a really special place: a lot of history, really exclusive, hard to get on, fits my eye really well. I think it’s a great course.
MM: What's your best memory golfing?
Yates: I’d have to go with when we won the Big 12 championship my freshman year. I think it was the last year we played in the Big 12, and it was one of the last functions the school played in the conference. One of our best players got hurt and we needed someone to step up and step into that spot. Johannes Veerman came in for Cameron Peck, who hurt his back. (Veerman) played hard for (Peck) and we ended up beating Texas by a few shots. It’s always fun to beat your rival school.
MM: You were a top-100 nationally ranked golfer coming out of high school. How do you keep a level head as you prepare to go to college?
Yates: Just try to keep focused on my goals. I tried to tell myself to work as hard as I could just to be able to play and not get too full of myself and know that just because I was getting recruited, it didn't mean I would be good enough to play in college. I had to work hard and work my way out of (being redshirted freshman year).
MM: How did you keep yourself honest with studies and keeping your game up that first year?
Yates: Not really too sure. I just looked toward the seniors. A guy on my team Jordan Russell, who I actually roomed with sophomore year, I looked to him. He was basically a walk-on, wasn't recruited, and went on to become an All-American. I tried to do all the stuff he did and find a way to become successful.
MM: What's the biggest lesson you’ve learned going from the high school to the college level – academically and athletically?
Yates: In the classroom it’s just you have to work hard. In high school you can kind of get away with not studying too much and not focusing too hard and still make good grades. In college if you do that, you’re going to have a hard time. It’s important to always be going to class and paying attention.
In golf, not get too frustrated with myself. It’s not a game where you're going to be perfect. So you have to manage your mistakes and take advantage of your opportunities when they come. When I was younger, I’d get mad at the littlest stuff. I’d hit bad shots and let it hang over me. Now I’m more mature, I can get over it and move on. Just try not to let it affect the next shot.
MM: You earned a leadership
award the past two years. How special is that? How do you wrap your head round maturity
at the college level and be a role model for your teammates?
Yates: I think it’s a pretty cool thing to be
recognized for anything. As far as leadership, I’m pretty proud of that. I like
to think of myself as a guy who can take care of business and do things the way
they’re supposed to be done - be a leader by example and help the younger guys
out and show them what to do to be successful on and off the course.
MM: Who has been the leading inspiration in your
life to succeed on and off the course?
Yates: My grandpa. We’re really close. I grew up
basically living down the street from him and spent a lot of time over there. He
would never put too much pressure on me. He let me realize I could play well.
He let me decide that’s something I wanted to do. I think that’s helped out a
lot because it was my choice. Golf is a sport, it’s not something you can go
practice a few times and be good, you have to be constantly working. The
hardest workers are typically the ones on top of tournaments.
MM: Talk about Mansfield ISD and growing up in
Arlington area and how it shaped you as a person.
Yates: It’s done a lot. I love Mansfield. I think it’s
a really good town. That’s where me and my mom and uncles all went: Mansfield High School. I grew up playing at Walnut Creek Country Club. There are a bunch of
kids out there. I never had to have a tee time scheduled. I just showed up at the
course every day and there was always someone my age to play with and compete
against. That’s shaped me into the golfer I am now.
MM: What are your future plans?
Yates: I’m doing a university studies major with a concentration in
leadership. As far as career plans, I’m going to give professional golf a shot
after I’m done school. It’s something I’ve always done and I’m going to chase
This is my last year. I’m done in May. After I graduate, I'm probably going to turn pro right away - get used to playing for money and get an understanding of being a pro golfer. I believe there’s four different stages to get through. Top 15-25 in each stage get out. It’s just surviving and advancing at that point. It's done through the qualifying school for the Web.com Tour. If you get out of that, you can play in the PGA tour.
MM: Parting words for the community?
Yates: I’m thankful for the support. Everybody in my life has
influenced me in one way or another. It’s nice to know people have my back and
support me through good times and rough times.