Ryan said it was a great experience to play with each other.
Brothers Zach and Ryan Walsh Bring The Family Connection to Men’s Golf
As the Loyola golf team hit the links this season, the team not only consisted of an entire roster of determined golfers but two Missouri-born brothers — Zach and Ryan Walsh.
Graduate student Zach not only competed in 15 rounds of golf this season, but he also achieved a career-low single-round score of 67 at the River Run Collegiate in North Carolina Sept. 11. Second-year Ryan also obtained a season-best at the River Run Collegiate with a final score of 223 (71-76-76).
Ryan said it was a great experience to play collegiately with each other, adding to their already-close relationship.
“He’s not only my brother, he’s my best friend, too,” said Ryan. “Being able to travel and go through the same experiences with him and share all these stories with him is just unforgettable.”
Zach also said the brothers have been very close as they had the opportunity to go to the same grade school and were on the same golf team in high school for a year.
As well as the brothers’ strong relationship, their parents have been with them every step of the way. Zach and Ryan said their parents have played an inspirational role in their lives as they have constantly supported the brothers in their lives and golf careers.
“They have just been the best, obviously to send my brother and I to a great school like this and to just support us in everything we do,” Ryan said. “They come out and watch our tournaments all over the country. It’s just so special to have that relationship with my parents.”
While both of the Walsh parents had an influential role in their athletes’ lives, Zach specifically said his father pushed him to work hard and helped him find coaching resources to support his golf career.
Head coach Erik Hoops wrote the two brothers have very different approaches to competing. In an email to the Phoenix, Hoops wrote that Zach is a “very cerebral player” who doesn’t showcase many emotions on the course and spends a lot of his time taking notes, journaling and meditating before the competition. Ryan, on the other hand, is a much more outgoing and emotional competitor.
Second-year men’s golf teammate Sebastian Kasun said in an email to The Phoenix both brothers positively contribute to the team dynamic.
“My experience with them has been very positive,” Kasun wrote. “They are both outgoing, uplifting people that their energy spreads to the rest of the team and makes us all closer. Without them, the team dynamic would not be the same.”
Zach said one of the main differences in his experience playing in the A-10 compared to the Missouri Valley Conference is the amount of depth the A-10 has.
“I would say another thing is the competition, they have more depth,” Zach said. “The MVC has some really good teams, but the Atlantic-10 Conference has about three or four teams that could go win the conference this year.”
Zach also said the thing that has motivated him most throughout his collegiate journey is trying to find his best self on the course.
Ryan noted how much he has grown since joining Loyola’s golf program. Specifically, he said his maturity has improved as he has adapted to the physical and mental demands and uniqueness of college golf.
“Last year, a lot of takeaways were just maturing and learning how to go through the motions of it all, and learning how to stay on top of my school work and balancing social life, too,” Ryan said.
Ryan said his process of committing to Loyola was driven by an opportunity to stay in the Midwest and live in Chicago, along with the familiarity he had with the program.
“I mean, being in the Midwest, knowing about Loyola obviously since my brother had been there and knowing a lot about the team, meeting the guys and knowing the coach very well,” Ryan said. “I think just at the end having the opportunity to play with my brother and to be in Chicago, it all kind of aligned for me.”
Hoops wrote that Ryan and his fellow second-year teammates have been one of the strongest recruiting classes the program has had. He said the golfers are all extremely serious about competing at the highest level against some of the best teams in the country.
“When you have as much talent and all the tools to succeed at this level like Ryan has, it’s more how you prepare for events both physically in dissecting the golf course, and emotionally being ready to play and compete with those best players out there,” Hoops wrote.
While the golf team has yet to win any tournaments this year, Ryan has his goals set for the rest of his career at Loyola — including having an individual season win, a title in the A-10 and moving on to regionals and hopefully nationals.
Zach, who’s collegiate career will come to an end after the spring season, said he is looking forward to the next steps once he graduates from Loyola, including either continuing to play golf or finding a career that is still connected to the golf industry.
While the brothers have a break in competition for the fall, they will be back for the start of A-10/MAC Match Play which will be held in Dade City, Florida, Feb. 6.
Featured image courtesy of Steve Woltmann | Loyola Athletics