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Minnesota's Sam Udovich Commits to Division I TCU and Secures Victory in First AJGA Tournament!

Minnesota 11th grader Sam Udovich, commits to Texas Christian University 2025!

Minnesota's top-ranked junior golfer, Sam Udovich, not only secured his elusive first AJGA tournament victory but did so with a 'Tiger-like strategy'—details to follow. capping off a summer of recruitment visits with his commitment to Texas Christian University (TCU). Today's Junior Golfer (TJG) caught up with Sam, Minnesota's Golf Association Junior Player of the Year in 2022, and his father Mike to delve into these recent triumphs. The conversation explores how Sam has risen as an elite junior golfer, representing a state renowned for producing hockey players rather than golfers.

TJG: Hi Sam. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.

Sam: You’re welcome, great to be talking to you.

TJG: Congratulations on your inaugural AJGA win, Sam! Achieving such a milestone is no small feat in the world of junior golf. Before delving into this remarkable accomplishment, let's start with your recent collegiate decision. Could you share insights into your recruitment journey, and how challenging was the decision-making process for you?

Sam: One word, stressful! It started out fun as I talked with several collegiate teams but once June 15th hit, reality kicked in, especially when I started doing the campus visits. A lot went into it. The last few days before I actually committed, I lost a lot of sleep.

TJG: Why did you end up choosing TCU?

Sam: I really like coach Bill allcorn and am excited to play for him. He has a great assistant, coach Buck and they play their golf at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, TX, where the PGA event, The Colonial National Invitation is held every year. I like the campus at TCU as well, it’s big but not too big, about 10,000 students.

Sam and TCU Coach Bill Allcorn next to the Ben Hogan Statue at Colonial Country Club

TJG: Do you know any other commits going to TCU?

Sam: Yes, 2025 commit, Austin Hofferkamp. I played a lot with him through the years at Pinehurst. In fact, we have a text group already started of 2024 & 2025 recruits, so we are talking a lot already. Everyone is excited.

TJG: What other collegiate teams were in the running?

Sam: In the end, it came down to TCU, Pepperdine, University of South Carolina and Ole Miss. One of the hardest things I had to do was to tell the other coaches no. I dreaded that. In the end, I am confident in my decision and am very excited to finally be able to play golf year-round!

TJG: Shifting our focus to your recent triumph, Sam, winning your first AJGA event is a significant achievement, especially in a field boasting over 80 junior golfers. Can you share the details around this remarkable victory? From the competition itself to the strategies you employed, we'd love to hear about the key moments and your overall experience during this event.

Sam: Yes. It was this summer at the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Sugarloaf Golf Club & Resort in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. The field was very good, the pressure was unreal. I have been trying for a long time to win an AJGA event. The weather was mixed, some sun and some rain and wet conditions, even a few mud balls. I think the plan I put in place was the clincher.

Boys Division Champion, Sam Udovich (4-under-par 212).

TJG: What was the plan?

Sam: I literally left my driver in the hotel room!

TJG: Really?

Sam: I played the course last year so I knew hitting fairways was a must. Sugarloaf probably has the narrowest fairways of all AJGA tournaments so I decided my game plan would be to hit 4 irons and hybrids off the tee. I never took my 3 wood out of my bag for 54 holes!

TJG: So you basically did a Tiger Woods, 2006 British Open! Tiger hit his driver only once during that tournament and won by hitting irons off the tees.

Sam: Yes, and it worked! I ended up hitting most fairways and avoided the roughs. There was one slight problem, I let most of the field back into play because generally I am longer than most. I found myself with longer irons into the green but was able to keep up my accuracy and hit most greens in regulation while other golfers weren’t. I was satisfied with 2 putt pars and chose my birdie opportunities. There was a lot of risk in playing this strategy, but what I call “smart golf” paid off in the end with a win!

TJG: That’s awesome! I also see a low 2nd round of 66 (-6)?

Sam: Yes, I tied a Sugarloaf course record and was the low round of the tournament. It no doubt gave me a huge boost going into the 3rd and final day.

Sam holding his golf card tying a Sugarloaf record low round of -6 (66).

TJG: Shifting gears once more, Sam, your success in junior golf in Minnesota is truly noteworthy. Can you share some insights into what you believe has contributed to your success in the Minnesota golf scene?

Sam: Overcoming the weather in Minnesota is a challenge! You have to have a plan or the winter will eat you up. My dad knew it was important to play in the winter, so we traveled once a month to play a tournament somewhere warm. We traveled to Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona every October through March. That was huge. One tournament a month since I was 6 yrs old has been key.

The golf season is short in Minnesota

TJG: Do you have a simulator at the house?

Sam: Yes, I have countless hours of hitting balls into a net and using video to analyze my swing. I also travel to a golf dome nearby for reps and hit the weights. My daily schedule in the winter was and still is; swings before and after school.

Sam getting reps inside the nearby dome in the winter.

TJG: What did you do during the spring and summer months in Minnesota?

Sam: Two of my best golfing friends in Minnesota are Isabella & Reese McCaulley (top female golfers in Minnesota). We grew up together playing since I was 5 years old. Isabella is a sophomore on the University of Minnesota Woman’s Golf Team (Division I) and just won her first collegiate tournament. Reese is a senior in High School and is currently ranked #42 in the USA (class of 2024). We’ve probably played 300 rounds of golf together over the years. Their friendship was instrumental in my development.

Sam with Isabella & Reece McCaulley

TJG: Let’s talk about your growth spurts.

Sam: Yeah, I am currently 6’5” and get fitted for new clubs constantly, probably every 8 months or so. In the last 2-3 years I have grown 6+ inches.

TJG: What has been the plus(es) and minus(es) during this growth?

Sam: I love the distance, length and speed I've acquired because of my height. The struggles have been ups-and-downs in tournaments and finding the fairways with my driver. I went through a stretch where the fairway was hard to hit. More recently, I have been a lot more consistent and my scores are showing it.

TJG: Looks like you have some PGA Jr League experience as well.

Sam: Yes, our Minnesota team finished 2nd at the 2018 National Championship and 4th at the 2019 National Championship. We played at Grayhawk Golf Course in Scottsdale, AZ. The course is unreal and has a very nice practice facility. The entire PGA Jr League experience was awesome and I am sure helped prepare me for collegiate team golf.

PGA Jr League team Minnesota

TJG: Last but not least, you played in the 2022 USGA Jr AM at Bandon Dunes, Oregon. How was that experience?

Sam: I played really well. I shot a 73, 71 at 6912 yards. I made the cut from 264 players to match play but lost in a 11-player playoff (for 5 spots).

Sam and dad at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon

TJG: That is amazing, especially at 15 yrs old.

Sam: It was my first Jr. AM event and I didn’t really know what to expect so believe it or not, I was not that nervous. It also helped that I was partnered with Caleb Surret in the 2nd round. Caleb is currently a sophomore at Tennessee but has 3 PGA starts as an amateur. Playing with him was pretty cool and I ended up beating him that round.

TJG: Who was on your bag at the USGA Jr AM?

Sam: I got to know a local caddy named Eddy. He did a great job for me, I trusted him. We are still great friends to this day.

Sam and his caddy Eddy.
Sam and caddy (Eddy) waiting on the first tee before the round begins, trying to stay warm.

TJG: Sam, your achievements in junior golf are truly remarkable, and it's clear your journey is far from over. Wishing you continued success this year and the next, and hoping your collegiate freshman year at TCU in 2025-2026 is nothing short of amazing! All the best!

Sam: Thank you.

Rapid Fire:

Home Course: Southview Country Club, West St Paul, MN.

AJGA wins: Coca-Cola Junior Championship – 1st Place.

US Kids Worlds: 3-time runner up 2015, 2019 & 2021.

Runner-up 3X's at US Kids Worlds

US Kids Worlds: Van Horn Cup Team.

Sam and partner Edan Cui (recently signed to play at Stanford) won their Van Horn Cup match shooting a -6
Sam and Edan with the legendary Dick Van Horn.

IMG Jr. Worlds: Runner-up 2021.

Runner-up at IMG Worlds

US Kids Regional: 5-time Champion. Copperhead Classic 2020. Desert Shootout 2020. Ozarks Open 2019. Desert Shootout 2017. Jekyll Island 2015

Sam holding up 1 of 5 US Kids Regional Championship Trophy's

MN State HS Golf Tournament: 2022 Champion - 9th grade.

2022 Minnesota State Champion

Drive, Chip and Putt: 3-time participant. 2021 National Champion.

2021 Winner at Drive, Chip and Putt
2018 Runner-up with Sergio Garcia
Epic photo of Sam and his dad Mike at Augusta National

Doral Publix Junior Golf Classic: Champion

Coach: Phil Anderson - GM at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

How far do you carry your driver: 290 yds.

Best part of your game: Driving.

Biggest goal in golf: National Championship with TCU, then PGA.

Favorite golfer(s): Tiger - his competitiveness. Rickie Fowler – I love when he wears orange.

What’s in your bag: All Titleist clubs. Scotty Cameron putter. Pro V1x ball.

Typical day: School, golf, homework, bed, repeat!

Tournament day breakfast: Waffle House if one nearby.

Tournament snack: Beef jerky, protein bars, Gatorade.

Favorite go-to shot: Baby cut.

Line on your ball for putting: Yes

Cross hand putter or regular: Regular

Years playing golf: First starter set of clubs at 3 yrs. old

Interesting fact about you: Record for the most runner-up’s at world tournaments with 4.

Hole-in-ones: 3 of them. 6 yrs old, 13 yrs old, and 15 yrs old.

Sam's first hole-in-one as a 6 year old

Who inspired you to play golf: My dad.

Sam and his dad Mike after a US Kids Regional win in 2015.

Exercises you do for golf: Strength and Speed.

School: Cretin-Derham High School. GPA: 3.75

Favorite class in school: Physics. 

Role model(s): Dad, PGA tour professionals.

Favorite actor: Adam Sandler

Favorite singer: Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs.

Favorite movie: Star Wars, Miracle on Ice, Greater (Arkansas football player)

Other sports: Basketball for fun.

Pet: Dog - Max

Sam and Max

Who is Sam Udovich: A good kid who works really hard.

Player Profile:

Name: Sam Udovich 

Age: 16

Grade: 11th

State: MN.

Golf tour(s): US Kids (previously), AJGA.

Jr Golf Scoreboard rank: 29th (Class of 2025).

Rolex Scoreboard rank: 89th overall (15-18 yr old’s).

Collegiate Commitment: Texas Christian University (TCU).

Sponsors: Titleist. FootJoy.

Where can we find you on social media: Instagram