Kyle Wight, Golfing From the Cradle to the Course

At three years old most children are learning to ride a bike and watching Sesame Street, but Kyle Wight was working on his swing and stance.

Once mentored by his father in his Brigham City backyard, Wight is now the number two golfer at a successful Division-I Intercollegiate golf program.

Wight was destined to a life on the links. Just like a father teaches a son his trade, Chris taught son Kyle the sport, getting him into the swing of things at a young age.

"By the time I was two or three, my dad had me out in the backyard practicing my swing and trying to make solid contact with the ball," said Wight.

Instead of clutching a crayon in his hands, Wight was gripping a nine iron and learning the game. Wight's dad would help him prepare for high school and amateur golf.

Spending his whole life in Brigham City, Wight came to Box Elder with big shoes to fill. His older brother Jason had walked the course before him and had done so with success, winning the division 3A title in the 1990-91 while leading Box Elder to a team title in the same year.

Jason's shoes were a good fit for younger brother Kyle, who took home a state title of his own in 1994-95. As the low individual medalist, Wight fulfilled one of his earliest dreams and secured one of his greatest memories.

"I set out to win the state championship when I was nine or 10," Wight said. "I was nervous when the day came because I wanted to win so badly."

Much to Wight's surprise, the day went just as he visualized it would, bringing home the title.

"You wait for the day for so long, and when it finally does, it is so satisfying.

High school was only a stroke in the big scheme of a golfer's career.

"High school golf provided me with a lot of tournament experience," Wight said. "But ultimately, it is what you do on the national level and junior tours that get colleges and universities to notice you."

Wight's success before college was prolific to say the least. Not only did he letter all four years at Box Elder, but he was a three-time MVP, a three-time member of the Utah All-State golf team, a two-time region medalist and finished second at state in 1994 as a precursor to the 1995 victory.

Outside of high school competition, Wight dominated the St. George Junior Tournament three times and placed first at the U.S. Junior qualifying tournament in Utah. As a 17 year old, Wight placed second at the Utah Junior Amateur in 1994. In his entire junior career, Wight garnered 12 tournament victories.

As for choosing a university, it was as easy for Wight as selecting the right club for a three-foot putt.

"There was never a question," Wight said, "BYU was always the university for me."

Wight recalls learning about the careers of former Cougars Johnny Miller, Mike Reid, Keith Clearwater and other BYU standouts. BYU was a benchmark of success in golf, brandishing 22 conference titles, 16 individual champs, 68 All-Americans, 11 conference player-of-the-year awards and a national championship.

Before Wight's collegiate career ever began, Wight took a hiatus from the sport to serve his church. Instead of walking across golf courses, Wight spent two years traversing Argentina as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"The people I served didn't know very much about golf," Wight said. "It was a great learning experience for me, despite not golfing for two years."

Wight's collegiate career proved to be a longer, more difficult road than any other accomplishment. He is the first to admit that he had challenges to overcome when he began his career at BYU.

"I wasn't a blue chip recruit," Wight said, "But I've put in the hours to get where I am today."

BYU head coach Bruce Brockbank is impressed with Wight's tenacious competitive spirit. "Kyle has made dramatic improvements over the last three years," Brockbank said. "He began to shine last year when he helped us win the conference tournament."

"I came in wanting to be a part of the team," Wight said. "My goal was to contribute to the team, but it wasn't as easy as I would have hoped it would be."

Wight spent the better part of three years improving his game, but spent most of the time in practice without qualifying for the tournaments.

"Kyle is hard working and dedicated," Brockbank said. "He gives you everything he's got."

Brockbank took time to work with Wight one-on-one as he does with the entire team.

"Coach Brockbank has a great understanding of mechanics and has helped me tremendously with my swing," Wight said.

Another area of improvement for Wight was strength and conditioning.

"Experts used to tell golfers not to work out, because they were afraid it would mess up a swing," he said. "But Coach (Jay) Omer has helped the team and me be physically prepared for the demands of golf."

Coach Omer, BYU's strength and conditioning coach, has become one of the miracle factors of BYU's recent success in all sports. Transferring from Georgia Tech, where Omer worked with some of the nation's top golfers, he brought experience and an expert knowledge of the muscle groups that golfers use.

"Surprisingly, he understands the mechanics of golf very well," Wight said. "He works us hard. I rarely finish the workout laid out for me."

Last year Wight saw the first real tournament action of his collegiate career, participating in four spring tournaments. His breakout opportunity came in the face of adversity and 25 mile per hour winds at the 2001 Mountain West Conference Tournament.

Wight became a headline overnight, joining seasoned golfers Billy Harvey, Jesse Hibler and Scott Miller. With rain and strong winds, Wight, who was dubbed the "surprise of the spring season", finished the tournament with scores of 75, 76 and 77. After struggling early in the final round, Wight had a two-under-par on the back nine to battle to a career-high 13th place finish.

Now a senior leader on a young Cougar golf team, Wight was the constant for BYU in the 2001 fall season. While his play is not flashy, Wight's consistent play kept the Cougars in the hunt throughout the fall tournaments.

"I stick to my own game plan," Wight said. "I'm not trying to follow anybody. There is an idea of following leaders, but I know what I have to do and I'm not influenced or distracted by others. I am content in being a leader in ways other than shooting the low score for each round."

Looking back, Wight remembers thinking the demands of golf were excessive.

"My dad pushed me hard," Wight said. "At the time I wasn't thrilled to spend my free time perfecting my swing or playing in tournaments. I thought I was missing out."

Wight skipped trips with friends over spring break and the summer to play in tournaments and improve his golf game. With success and experience on his side, Wight now looks at the sacrifices with a new perspective.

"I know that the hard work and sacrifice has brought me so many opportunities," Wight said. "I understand the sport and I have found something that I want to make a part of the rest of my life."

As for the future, the glass ball is cloudy for Wight. Whether playing the game or working in the industry, golf is in the plans for Wight and his wife of over two years, Megan Simper.

"I'm not sure how much golf I will play when it isn't something that I have to do or practice," said Wight, who is studying facilities management at BYU. "I would love to use my education to work in the golf industry as a pro shop manager or owning my own pro shop."

With golf playing such an important role in Wight's life, it has provided memories beyond certain shots and final scorecards. Wight and the rest of the team were playing in the season's first tournament in South Carolina when the events of September 11 transpired.

"People always say that you remember where you were when things like this happen," Wight said. "I had just made the turn and I was taking some practice swings on the tenth hole when I first heard about the attacks. It was weird to hear about it in the middle of a tournament like I did. The thought of innocent people dying in the World Trade Center put things in perspective. All of the sudden a golf shot didn't seem so important. Manuel Merizalde plunked a ball in the water on the ensuing hole but said he didn't care."

The team finished the tournament that same day, but due to travel restrictions they were stranded in South Carolina for three more days.

"The place was nice and we played golf and tried to keep busy, but all we really wanted was to get home," Wight said.

Wight looks back at his BYU career without doubt or regret.

"I know that I've done my best," he said. "I've given it everything I've got and its been good to be here."

That being said, Wight is focused on the task at hand - the spring 2002 season.

"I know he can surprise us," Brockbank said. "Kyle can step up and play big for us with scores in the mid to high 60s."

Wight has every intention on playing till the end of his BYU career.

"I have my own style," he said. "I don't give up until the last shot. All the way up to the end, I'm grinding out each stroke."