John Updike’s Golf Journey


Stowe Milhous

The senior has had a unique golf experience throughout high school.

Starting at Malvern as a freshman, Updike was a highly touted young golfer and clearly had a bright future in high school golf. Now, he has lived up to and surpassed all expectations.

Updike has consistently been one of the top scorers on the Malvern golf team since his freshman year. He has put up impressive scores his entire high school career and has continually been at the top of the leaderboards.

“John has just played consistent golf for four years,” Malvern golf coach Mr. Gary Duda said. “He’s been a staple of our program. He’s easily been one of our top three players ever that has ever played here at Malvern.”

Even though Updike has been dominant, Duda has witnessed his game improve over the years.

“He’s lived up to the hype since his freshman year,” Duda said. “Over the years, John’s made small improvements, but he really came in and played well right away…as a freshman, you come in and you play varsity, and then you excel in it, and now everybody’s looking at you. So how do you live up to that? [But] John has not only lived up to that…I don’t think anybody in our golf program has ever done what he accomplished as a freshman.”

Updike’s impressive talent is very obvious to Duda, along with the rest of the area’s golf community. Additionally, he has a great work ethic. He is seen to most as not only a top scorer, but also a very hard worker.

“For him to be in the top five, four, or three every year in every one of our tournaments is really a credit to his hard work. It’s [also] a credit to his consistency. And, really, it’s just how talented he is,” Duda said.

Updike’s golfing experience took an interesting turn last winter when he and his family made the decision for John to move down to Florida for the winter of his junior year. They made this decision for one reason:

“I was at a point in my recruiting [process] that I had to play really well based off of the schools I was looking at,” Updike said. “So, I just decided to move down to Florida because it was a super important spring, and going into spring, if you don’t play at all during the winter, it’s tough to play well in tournaments. So, I figured the best thing to do was to be able to practice during the winter. Moving down to Florida was the best option.”

The spring during a golfer’s junior year of high school is the most important time in the recruiting process, as there are a lot of top-level tournaments which college coaches attend in order to scout up and coming players.

The decision seems to have been the definite right decision according to those closest to Updike.

“I thought it was a great decision because he’s at a different level than everybody else,” Duda said. “And, the exposure that he got going away is something he needed because John wanted to play college golf and he probably wasn’t going to get that [exposure] playing here. So, it was a smart decision on John’s parents’ part knowing that he would miss half the year here being with his classmates, but sometimes the sacrifices work.”

Not only did this temporary move to Florida provide Updike the opportunity to play at a time when he wouldn’t have been able to, but he also gained the opportunity to be surrounded by strong influences.

“I played with a lot of kids down there who are the best players in the country, and I played with them often,” Updike said. “So, playing with really good players made me a lot better.”

A lot of good came out of the whole situation for Updike and was instrumental in his pursuit of strengthening his game. Upon returning from Florida, another facet of his game seemed to be changed for the better.

“I just saw a different type of kid when he came back [from Florida],” Duda said. “He just looked like he had a calm confidence about him. John already knew how good he was. He’s never been a cocky kid, but in golf, you have to have some form of arrogance, in a good way; some [swagger].

As for helping in the college recruitment process, the trip benefited Updike, as he committed to the University of Maryland only a few months after returning to Pennsylvania.

“I committed over [the summer],” Updike said. “I picked Maryland because I thought the coach was really cool and their team right now is strong, and when I’ll be getting there they’ll still have some of their best players. The kids in my class that are going there are also really good. I also really like Maryland’s strength of schedule.”

Now that the recruitment process is complete after he signed his National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Maryland on November 14, 2018, Updike has his college years to look forward to.

“I think the most important thing now is that he’s going to play at a major Division I college golf program, and he’s going to get an opportunity to step in right away,” Duda said. “John’s going to play good golf, I have no doubt. He’s that kind of player.”

The future definitely looks bright for Updike, and those around him definitely notice.

“I think the sky’s the limit for him,” fellow senior golf team member Andrew Curran said. “He’s got a ton of talent and works really hard at it. He definitely has a successful future ahead of him.”

Not only does his future look bright just at Maryland, but Updike could seriously go far in his golf career, and Malvern will always be there to support him.

“John has the game to get to that next level [professional golf tours], he’s that talented,” Coach Duda said. “We’ve had a lot of good players, but we’ve never had a player with his ability, golf-wise. It’ll be cool to see where he goes from here and how he does. He’d be representing Malvern Prep, he’d be representing our golf program, and that would be a cool thing for all of us. So I wish him well.”