By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY March 25, 2003 Nick Yaun feels like hes living a dream.
The 2001 Liberty Central School graduate has already found the job of a lifetime and hes 20 years old.
Yaun, a member of the professional golf management (PGM) studies program at Clemson University in South Carolina, has secured a seven-month long internship with Winged Foot, the eighth best golf course in the country.
This is my dream, he said. Im 20 years old, and Im living my dream everything just fell into place.
Im so happy.
Golf is a major part of life for Yaun its been such an influence he cant even remember why or when he started playing.
I just remember my dad laughing at me, and I hated that, he recalled.
It wasnt as though his father, Tim, was much better, Yaun said.
Hes terrible, he laughed.
So the younger Yaun worked on his swing until he could trounce his dad on the course.
By ninth grade, he was ready to join the Liberty golf team, making it to sectionals every year in his high school career. By senior year, Yaun was good enough to qualify for the state tournament.
Most of his skills, he said, come from four years working at Grossingers and the Concord some of the best courses hes ever played.
In addition to learning the ins and outs of a golf club, Yaun got to work one-on-one with golf pro Todd Barker, who helped him develop his game.
Hes an awesome guy and really knows what hes talking about, Yaun explained.
After high school, Yaun was recruited by Campbell University, a Baptist college between Fayetteville and Raleigh, N.C., to play Division I golf.
Unhappy at the campus, Yaun decided to transfer to Clemson to join the PGM program and play in their tournaments.
The school itself has the number one ranked golf team in the country, and Yaun had a unique opportunity to face off earlier this year against the coach in a one-on-one match, something hes been told never happens with kids who arent members of the team.
But Yaun has excelled playing just in tournaments and not on the golf team. Last year he won six of 11 PGM competitions, and hes ranked number one in the program.
A sophomore at Clemson, Yaun has a 73 stroke average and he was named the 2002-03 player of the year for the program.
And its through PGM that Yaun has hit upon the opportunity of a lifetime. The college requires students to get some hands-on experience through an internship at a business in their field.
In Yauns case, that means a golf course. At first he was set up to work at Pebble Beach, perhaps the most prestigious course in the country, but when that fell through, Winged Foots assistant job came into play.
And, actually, Yaun is even more excited about this particular opportunity.
In addition to being one of the top courses in the nation (Winged Foot will play host to the U.S. Amateurs Tournament next year and the U.S. Open in 2006), the course is located in Mamaroneck, right over the Tappan Zee Bridge which means hell be close to home.
This is the most prestigious course in New York, Yaun noted.
And instead of just working for a summer, Yaun will put in seven months on the job. That means hell get paid, and theres the chance that hell be eligible for a full-time job at the course after graduation.
Besides, the internship offers him a chance to do something interesting outside of school.
I get to run all the outside operations, he said. Its not a bad job at all.
After graduation, Yaun wants to move back to the New York area, which means the Winged Foot job might be his foot in the door of his future.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I just got lucky, he said.
So why does he plan to devote his life to golf?
Its just a bug and you get it, he said. Honestly, I dont even know why I like golf, I really dont.
But Ill play any sport I can get my hands on.
In fact, Yaun lettered in four sports in high school he wrestled, played soccer and kept in shape during the winter on the basketball court.
But dont expect to see him out on the baseball diamond anytime soon.
I gave up, he said. It wasnt very good for your golf swing.
Yaun is the son of Tim and Cindy Yaun of Liberty. He has a sister Kate, who attends Liberty High School.