Golf's ups and downs have proved instructive to Stanford-bound Parasher - Albuquerque Journal

Golf’s ups and downs have proved instructive to Stanford-bound Parasher

 

Neil Parasher, an 18-year-old Albuquerque Academy graduate headed to Stanford to walk on for golf, knows to adjust when an 8-foot birdie putt turns into a four-putt frustration that results in a double bogey.

Parasher has learned to apply the many lessons of golf in his life. His love for the game helped him gain great confidence figuratively when it’s time has to move on to the next hole.

He was even through 10 holes at the one-round U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier at UNM Championship Golf Course on June 14. But then came the par-3 No. 11 hole that crushed his momentum and knocked him off his game with that dreaded double-bogey. He finished 5-over 77 and 10th in the event that had one qualifying spot.

Parasher will be back at it Wednesday, when he plays in the two-day U.S. Junior PGA Championship qualifier at UNM Championship. He will be vying to finish in the top two to qualify for the event at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Palos Park, Illinois Aug. 2-5. Parasher won the qualifier at UNM Championship last year.

On Sept. 20, Parasher, who graduated with a 4.6 grade-point average, plans to leave for Stanford, where he will major in computer science.

He was also accepted into UCLA, USC, Cal, UC Irvine, University of San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Texas.

He was wanting to apply to Harvard, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and Harvey Mudd in Claremont, California with golf in mind, too. But he stopped applying once he was accepted into Stanford.

In one of his essays for Stanford, he wrote about his experiences with golf to explain that the game has taught him many valuable lessons.

“When you’re in pressure situations, it’s very important to keep your head straight,” Parasher said. “It’s not going to be exactly like other scenarios in life, but it’s still a pressure situation. If you learn how to do it, it can help you a lot.”

Parasher has confronted adversity and pressure situations at various points in his life. Without revealing specifically why, he said there was a time he could not play golf.

“He has always loved playing golf,” his mother, Sheila, said. “It was really sad for him when he couldn’t play.”

Sheila sometimes caddies for her son at various events. She said she enjoys doing it because it’s a chance for her to see a different side of her son.

Meanwhile, Parasher is going through a swing change. His academics at Stanford will be his top priority, he insists, but he wants to give golf the best effort he can with the intent to reach his pro dreams.

“I feel pretty good about Stanford,” Parasher said. “I’m keeping an open mind. I’m going to be bogged down with studies. My parents said studies are No. 1 for me and golf is No. 2. If something happens, I always have something to fall back on.

“That’s the beauty of being in college – be mindless and fire away, and not have any doubts.”

Parasher has his work cut out for him. He has experienced the challenges golf produces. But he believes his game will trend up soon.

The coronavirus pandemic actually allowed him to devote more time to golf while he did schoolwork for Academy online.

At the Albuquerque City Championship in August of 2000, he was the first-round leader after a personal-best 7-under 65 at Ladera Golf Course. He ended up finishing tied for fourth in the 54-hole tournament.

Last November, he finished tied for 24th after his 8-over 294 (76-74-74) in the prestigious Rolex Tournament of Champions at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

“I was able to play in that one because I’m a scholastic All-American,” Parasher said. “I got to play with the top kids in the nation. That was eye-opening. I beat some (Division I) athletes. It showed me that I’m not there yet, but I’m not too far away. I’m trying to get myself back. I was doing really well that time at City. I started peaking there. Golf is an up-and-down game. You always have to fix your errors and try to limit your mistakes.”

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