More than 4,000 miles away from home, golfer Rowan Lester is in a situation he never thought he would be in as a junior.
Lester came to Texas Wesleyan from Dublin, Ireland on a full golf scholarship. Since then he has won first place at the 66th NAIA National Championship as a freshman in 2017 and third place the following year.
Lester was hoping to come back stronger for the NAIA National Championship but his plans changed on Nov. 17, 2018, when he broke his wrist. He has not played in any of the team’s spring tournaments.
“I was confused and worried,” Lester said. “I was a little bit shocked and really didn’t know what to do.”
Initially, Lester’s injury was going to keep him off the course for six to eight weeks, but his recovery has taken longer than expected. He thought he would be playing by now.
“I was kind of just worried about how long I was going to be out for,” Lester said. “I thought it was going to be better a month ago but it’s just dragging out a little bit more. I’m just waiting for it to get better.”
Lester has already been released by his doctor but his wrist still doesn’t feel the same.
“The wrist feels stiff and not strong,” Lester said.
Since his injury, Lester has been attending physical therapy two days a week. His teammates, meanwhile, have been having an excellent season. On March 8, the Rams were ranked No. 5 in the NAIA Men’s Golf Coaches’ Top 25 poll, according to ramsports.net.
“All the lads have been supportive and without them, I wouldn’t be able to go to therapy or anything,” Lester said.
This is the first time Lester hasn’t been able to play golf since he got started at the age of 4. His father introduced him to the game.
“My dad got me a set of plastic clubs when we went to Spain one year and just started from there,” Lester said.
As a kid, Lester grew up looking up to Tiger Woods. At the age of 13, he was chosen by the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) to be a member of the junior program.
According to GUI’s official website, www.golfnet.ie, Lester has represented at the senior and junior level. He is also the 2017 North of Ireland Amateur Open Champion.
When Lester goes back home for the summer, he continues to play golf for the GUI program, traveling to different countries representing Ireland.
Not only is Lester a star, but he is also a good mentor and friend to his teammates.
Sophomore Taylor Beckstead from Alliston, Ontario, Canada said Lester helped his transition to America a lot easier.
“I miss being Rowan’s partner,” Beckstead said.
Freshman Will Gilster from Argyle said Lester is a great teammate and he has learned a lot from him.
“He’s nice to go out there with ‘cause you’re the one driving him so if he stays late out on the course you’re going to stay out late as well,” Gilster said. “He helps you practice more.”
Lester not only improves his golf game out on the course but improves it in the gym and hasn’t let his injury affect that. He continues to go to the gym six days a week, and his determination motivates his teammates to find their growth at the gym.
“He gets some of the teammates to the gym because he likes to go to the gym,” Gilster said.
Although Lester’s injury doesn’t allow him to play alongside his teammates, he still shows up to practice every day to support them.
Lester hopes to continue his golf career after college by playing professionally for the European tour. His goal is to reach the men’s top 50 World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) this year and qualify for the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship.
“From there hopefully I can make the Walker Cup team which is the Great Britain, Ireland against the best of USA and then if I get a good deal turn pro after that,” Lester said.