Many people play golf on vacation, but few love it enough to devote nearly every day after returning to train and become one of the best young players in their country. Then again, most people are not Seton Hall freshman Gregor Tait.
On Feb. 13, Tait became just the 11th Pirate to win an individual title, as the 20-year-old finished in first at the UNCG/Martin Downs Collegiate in Palm City, Fla.
As the son of Scottish parents, Tait grew up around golf, playing occasionally with his father. For most of his childhood, however, Tait spent the majority of his time playing soccer and swimming competitively. It was not until Tait was 15 that he chose golf as his primary sport, after discovering his love for the game on a family vacation in Scotland.
“My family and I were on a holiday in Scotland, and there was a little course right by where we were staying, so I played all day, every day, for the next two weeks, pretty much,” Tait said.
After returning home, Tait practiced daily at his home course, Ipswich Golf Club and started competing in tournaments regularly. On a trip to England in 2015, coach Clay White scouted and introduced himself to Tait and his father at the British Boy’s Championship.
“I came to golf quite late, so [playing college golf in the U.S.] was always something my dad and I joked about,” Tait said. “We never really took it seriously, but I played in this tournament and I spoke with coach White who told me what he was all about so we stayed in touch.”
Tait still had his work cut out for him as he tried to overcome the challenge of coming to golf at such a late age in comparison to his competitors, many of whom have been playing golf since they were toddlers. Still, from the first time seeing him golf, White understood the potential that Tait possessed.
“When I first saw this kid play, I thought he was pretty good,” White said. “I’m not much of a swing guy, but he certainly passed the eye test.”
The turning point, according to Tait, came during his final year of high school, when he qualified for the England School’s team, giving him the chance to represent his country against Scotland.
After representing England, Tait took a gap year to improve his game and get recruited by a high-level program. During that year, Tait worked on his game tirelessly, playing nearly every day in preparation for collegiate golf. When he was not on the course, Tait was earning a few pounds working in a local restaurant.
It was during his gap year that White reached out once again, this time with a concrete offer to play for Seton Hall. Tait committed shortly after, citing his relationship with White and nearby family in New Jersey.
Since arriving in South Orange, the freshman has performed at a high level, finishing the fall season as the Pirates’ third best golfer. However, White made it clear that the results were not as important as the work Tait has put in behind-the-scenes.
“We talk a lot about the process and not looking at the results,” White said. “I don’t like to set expectations about winning this or that tournament, but instead to focus on the process every day.”
For Tait, the win at the UNCG/Martin Downs Collegiate is a promising sign of good things to come. As optimistic as White is about Tait’s future, he continues to push Tait to keep working and trust in the process of becoming a great golfer.
“For me there are two types of confidence: results confidence and personal confidence,” White said. “Gregor had the personal confidence already and we hope he can use this results’ confidence in a positive way to grow as a golfer.”
In a program that has featured its fair share of standout golfers in recent years, Tait has the potential, work-ethic and now the neccesary confidence and swagger to to go down as one of the best golfers in program history when it’s all said and done.
Andrew Lombardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lombardo_andrew.