Senior Riley Johnson improves from underclassmen seasons

The co-captain from Fargo improved his stroke average from 76.33 as a sophomore to 73.06 now.

Riley Johnson plays at the Windsong Golf Club during the Gopher Invitational on Sept. 13, 2015.

Joe Sulik

Riley Johnson plays at the Windsong Golf Club during the Gopher Invitational on Sept. 13, 2015.

by Max Biegert

Senior Riley Johnson doesn’t go a day without thinking of the game of golf and how he can out work anyone in order to become someone great, he said.

Associate head coach Justin Smith said, through his four years, Johnson has been the total standard of what a student-athlete looks like. Johnson was named co-captain for his senior season along with Rúnar Arnórsson.

“He is so determined and so passionate to be the best at anything he does,” Smith said. “It is so refreshing as coaches because we don’t have to worry a whole lot about him, he understands what it takes and works hard at it.”

Johnson has improved since his days as an underclassman. 

From his sophomore year to the current year, Johnson has improved his stroke average from 76.19 to 73.06.

“I don’t really focus on being consistent, I just try to focus on shooting the lowest score ever; if I shoot poorly on one hole, I tell myself to get back to even par as quick as possible,” Johnson said. “I just never quit and never give up.”

Johnson’s current stroke average in his senior season is not as good as his score a season ago. He averaged 73.03 as a junior.

Soon after his first of two state titles in high school, Johnson heard from now-director of golf John Carlson and they started developing a relationship. By the time he was a senior in high school, Johnson was committed to the Gophers and ready to begin his college golf career. 

Johnson’s older brother, Payton, graduated from Minnesota and now works for Wells Fargo. Payton said he hasn’t met anyone more competitive than Riley. 

“He’s so competitive; he is just wired to compete,” Payton said. “It is just that he is always motivated and whatever he sets his mind to, he normally gets it done, and that is why he has been such a good golfer.”

Riley said he will use advice Smith gave him earlier in the year, which was “enjoy the walk.” With only two months left in the NCAA golf season, Riley isn’t taking a single practice or tournament for granted.

As for what is ahead for Riley, he said he plans on moving somewhere warm and will work on his golf game for a year to see if he can possibly make it at the professional level. He will graduate with a business marketing degree in May. 

“Golf is in my near future; I don’t want to sit behind a desk just yet,” Riley said. “I’m not really sure what my future holds, but I know I want to golf.”