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Eric D’Astous: A Life-Changing Choice
By Beaux Yenchik, UGA Intern
For college students, life-altering choices seem to happen just a frequently as they take selfies. Yet, the 180-degree change of choice for this college student turned into one of the best decisions he ever made.
There sat Eric D’Astous, on the campus of the University of Utah, working on his undergraduate degree in kinesiology with dreams of becoming a physical therapist. D’Astous had just started a new gig at the Country Club of Salt Lake as a bag boy. Being a recreational golfer himself, the environment and setting provided a sense of familiarity and comfort as he continued to work through his education.
Yet, something just wasn’t sitting right. D’Astous recognized he was happier at the golf course than in the classroom – studying a subject he thought he had developed a deep passion for. The gig had reignited a fire, and D’Astous was again falling for the sport he had ditched after high school.
“Once I got a degree, [I was] already in the golfing industry,” D'Astous said. ” 'This is where I want to be. This is my field.' For some reason, PT, I didn't want to have to go back to do that. [It] looked like work.”
Born just outside of Canada’s capital city, D’Astous left the Ottawa area at a young age when his family moved to Salt Lake City. Calling the Salt Lake area home, D’Astous attended Waterford School, and it was here that D’Astous was introduced to the sport he would later turn into a career.
Everybody has a somebody that introduced them to the game of golf and for him, it was D’Astous’ grandpa and uncles. At the age of 14 – the age he started golfing – D’Astous recalled two distinct memories from the time he began playing golf: the time his uncle took him out to get a pair of golf shoes and one of his first rounds of golf, which took place in Vermont.
From his beginning days to now, golf has always played a special role in D’Astous’ life – even if he did give it up for a couple of years while he attended college. He loved playing on the school team with his buddies and even recreationally around the valley. Because of where he grew up, he was fortunate enough to have friends that would invite him to play at some of the local country clubs like Willow Creek and Hidden Valley.
As a bag boy at the Country Club, he had the ability to play as much golf as he wanted on Monday afternoons. Being a poor-college student and maybe somewhat of a procastinator toward homework, D’Astous could be seen playing as much as 36 holes those afternoons if the time, weather and busyness of the course permitted.
“That's really what changed everything,” D'Astous said. “I made so many friends doing that. [I] still do it to this day. That is what golf is, going out with your friends … having a good time.”
By reteaching himself, D’Astous’ confidence and love toward the game continued to grow. His environment was comfortable and he enjoyed being in a community that had similar feelings.
This obsession, for a lack of a better word, is what drove the decision to work toward becoming a PGA Professional – desiring to make it to a Class A status. There was no individual moment that drove D’Astous to leave the physical therapy route, just a culmination of experiences and relationships that shaped his future.
While still thinking about a golfing career, D’Astous took advantage of his circumstances by testing the waters – he had been working at the Country Club for three years; Ron Branca, the former Director of Golf, had just left the Club; and a vacancy had just opened regarding the position of an assistant professional.
D'Astous said: “It was an idea to become a Class A PGA Professional at that point. I [thought] it was going to happen. In my head, I wanted a little more.”
He wanted it, and he wanted it bad! So, what did he do? He nagged them for it.
“I wanted the responsibility,” D'Astous said. “I wanted them to give me that opportunity. [So], I just bugged them and bugged them.”
Nagging may not always be the right path for one to take when something is wanted; however, in this instance, it worked perfectly for D’Astous. He emphatically stated he was “grateful they took a chance on him” when it came to offering him the position. He had no experience, except being a bag boy. Yet, he had proved he was the right man for the job.
Having passed the Playing Ability Test – his proudest accomplishment in golf – on his fourth go around, D’Astous knew he was embarking on the best journey of his life.
Golf is more than a white ball and a club to hit it with. It symbolizes life on a smaller scale. D’Astous said an 18-hole round demonstrates and reflects the ups and downs of life. It shows how we respond to self-inflicted and out-of-our-own control situations. Each hole is a new phase we face in life. Some we play well; others we don’t.
D’Astous loves how golf can teach lessons like honesty, respect and an “all up to you” mentality. It is a sport that continues to evolve but gives its participants an opportunity to accrue the necessary data for next time. It draws you in and hooks on to you by giving you a single-good shot amongst a round full of bad ones.
“You can learn a lot of good life lessons and a lot about yourself just from playing golf,” D'Astous explained. “It is kind of funny. You learn a lot about your character [and] mental fortitude.”
Outside of golf, D’Astous loves to spend time with family and his group of really good friends. He is the only boy among three sisters. And, as a getaway, D’Astous loves to go camping, hiking or simply spending time in the outdoors.
Eric, we wish you the best of luck in your golfing career and hope you continue to share your love of the game with those you teach and interact with daily!
*Updated on 07/23/18