By the SMU Digital Marketing Team
While many kids pick up common sports like swimming and taekwondo when they’re little, not many would have chosen a sport like golf. Well, national golfer Ryan Ang is the exception. The national squad member was introduced to the sport at the tender age of five by his father. “My dad brought me to the driving range to watch him hit some balls, and I soon got intrigued by how far he was hitting the balls into the range. The next thing I knew, I was swinging a kids golf club and loved the feeling of hitting the golf ball as far as possible.”
This led Ryan to play golf competitively in primary school at the Inter-Primary School Golf Championships. And the avid sportsman, whose hobbies include playing other sports such as badminton, table tennis and frisbee, has not looked back since.
And while there have been quite a few highlights in Ryan’s golfing career thus far, the 22-year-old shares that qualifying for the national team in 2020 has been his most significant achievement. “I am now able to represent the country and fly the flag high while playing a sport I love!”
Today, the second-year SMU School of Accountancy undergraduate and part-time Teaching Assistant has his sights on bigger goals and wants to reach for the stars while he still can.
Besides being on the national squad, what are some other highlights in your golfing career?
I recently won the Singapore Open Amateur Championship, the biggest amateur event in Singapore, which got me a spot in the SMBC Singapore Open in January 2022. This win was the biggest one for me in my competitive career thus far, and it is particularly significant as the field for the event was strong and was played on a challenging golf course. Furthermore, this win allows me to play at Sentosa Golf Club, in one of the biggest regional professional events next year!
It must not be easy trying to juggle school work and training. How do you manage it?
I believe in goal-setting, as it helps me to stay motivated while I juggle various commitments. Having a few goals to aim for every year in golf and my studies enables me to stay focused and keep my drive high as I work to achieve them within the time frame I’ve set for myself. Furthermore, my passion for the sport has helped me stay true to my path and continue to remain motivated despite the many challenges that have come my way.
Since the Tokyo Olympics, the importance of caring for one’s mental health and wellbeing has been in the spotlight, especially for athletes who have to deal with so much pressure. How do you cope with the stress?
The National Team has a performance mindset coach who works with us and helps develop an awareness of our thoughts and how our mind functions during competition versus a typical day. This helps us maintain our wellness and mental health, ensuring that we don’t burn ourselves out.
On a personal level, I constantly remind myself to enjoy the game and to appreciate the process. It is easy to get too focused on winning and doing well, which inadvertently places too much stress on yourself, ultimately resulting in injuries, burnouts and mental breakdowns. Continuing to enjoy the sport and treasure how far I’ve come help me to stay in the present and maintain my overall wellbeing.
What are some of the life skills you’ve picked up from your sport?
I feel like playing the sport at such a high level has taught me many skills. Managing my time well is one, as I’ve learned at a very young age, to balance my study schedule with that of golf training and set aside time for family and friends.
Furthermore, it’s also taught me how to control my emotions and conduct myself properly, as how I behave on the golf course reflects my character and upbringing. Lastly, one of the many things competitive golf taught me is perseverance. I’ve come to realise that it takes a little extra to control my nerves and stay focused during the last few holes of a competition to emerge victorious.
It’s common knowledge that behind every successful sportsperson is an unwavering support system. How has SMU helped support you in your sporting career?
I am very thankful for all the support SMU has provided to allow me to pursue my passion. The school has given me the flexibility to plan my classes. This has been hugely beneficial as I can schedule classes around training days with the national team and my training sessions. Furthermore, the professors have been kind and accommodating whenever I miss classes to compete in tournaments.
What’s next for you in golf?
Moving forward, I hope to represent Singapore in major games such as the SEA Games and Asian Games, with the Olympics being an eventual target. I want to continue playing golf at a high level and compete at more professional events globally.
This is part of a series featuring up-and-coming athletes of SMU. Look out for more inspiring stories from our student-athletes as they conquer new frontiers in their respective sporting arenas.