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El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Time Out! Ep. 12: Ethan Lien

Driving into Ethan Lien’s journey playing golf
Ethan Lien sets up for his swing. Photo courtesy of Ethan Lien | Used with permission

DS: Hi everyone, my name is Dahlia Schilling, and welcome back to Episode 12 of Time Out! Each episode, we will be diving into the sports scene here at Monta Vista High School and explore the journeys of athletes from various sports. In this episode, I am joined by junior Ethan Lien, who has been playing golf competitively for nine years. Let’s swing right into it. 

DS: When did you start playing golf?

EL: So I started playing golf when I was around 7 years old. I have an older brother who played golf, and he kind of got me into the sport. 

DS: What are some of your first memories associated with it?

EL: Some of my first memories were starting out at this golf course called Santa Teresa and they had a lot of junior programs there where I got to meet a lot of new people. I think that really intrigued me into playing golf because there was more of a team aspect to the game and I was able to make new friends and we were able to work together to kind of deepen our understanding of the game.

DS: When did you first have that epiphany and realize like ‘I’m competitive in the sport’? 

EL: I think honestly, COVID was the thing that helped me improve my game the most, since during COVID, we were indoors all the time and I was able to focus on me and my own game and that really helped me to get into a good rhythm on what I wanted to work on to help improve my golf game. My dad was also a really big influence — he helped me work on my golf game a lot. We had a net in the backyard where I would just hit balls into the net and he would just watch me and we would work on any technique I needed to figure out. So I think that really helped and then after COVID died down a little bit, I started to play more tournaments and I won three really big tournaments and that put my name out there.

DS: How did you feel winning these three tournaments? 

EL: It didn’t really feel like anything special since I was just playing my game and continuing to work hard so I was more in a process-oriented mindset and continuing to play my own game and not worry about the outcome, but I just played really well and then I ended up winning. So that was a good touch to it.

DS: How has that mindset of focusing on your game evolved over time? How have you been able to focus in on that and not get wrapped up in the noise of it all?

EL: Especially now, there is just a lot of pressure for me to perform well, especially since I’m ranked a lot higher than I was before. But I think just staying in the present has really helped me and not letting other people distract me and knowing that I go to every tournament to just play my own game. And I’m not trying to impress other people. I’m just playing it for myself.

DS: Has there ever been a time where you wanted to quit this sport? And if so, what kept you going?

EL: I would probably say the beginning of 2022 was probably one of the lowest I’ve ever been. I was getting close to last place in many of the tournaments, but what kept me going was just that I don’t like losing. So  I just wanted to keep going and I know I’m gonna mention this again, but my dad, he’s always been a big supporter of me. So he always just tried to say that if you just keep working hard things will come your way.

DS: Why don’t we touch on that? How have your parents impacted your experience?

EL: I feel like my parents just do a lot for me. They have helped to sign me up for all these golf tournaments, they  have to help to strategize which tournaments to play in and they’ve gone to every single one of my tournaments and it’s just really awesome to have them there. Even when I’m not playing well, they know that it’s natural, and you are gonna have those ups and downs. So they just continue to support me, regardless of the circumstances.

DS: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome playing the sport and how did you have to adapt?

Ethan Lien mid swing. Photo courtesy of Ethan Lien | Used with permission

EL: I’d say the biggest challenge was just going out to the course every day and just telling myself to get 1% better every single day. I wouldn’t say there is necessarily one really, really tough moment since I feel like in life in general, you’re always gonna have those ups and downs. 

DS: Can you tell me a little bit about the recruiting process for playing D1 men’s golf at Berkeley and a little bit about what that was like?

EL: So you could start talking to the college coaches on June 15, following your sophomore year, so that was this June of 2023. So that day, I called five coaches and Berkeley was pretty much my number one choice because my brother went there and I have a lot of friends who are still playing on the team at Berkeley and my favorite golf player, Collin Morikawa, is also an alumni from Berkeley. So I think that it was said that it was my number one decision, but it was just a matter of if I could convince the coach to give me an offer. But I had a call with the assistant coach and then a couple of weeks later, talking with the head coach, and he was like, “What do you want your timeline to look like?’” And I was like, “I would want to move this as quickly as possible,” so he gave me an offer a week later. So that was cool. But I think the thing I learned from recruiting was you have to initiate, you have to be aggressive with the coaches. I was probably talking to 20 other coaches, but Cal was the only one I initiated with since I really wanted to get an offer from them.

DS: Did you ever seriously consider other offers?

EL: I was considering UCLA or an Ivy League but there were kind of two contingencies. My goal is to go pro while studying at a school that has good academics, but for Ivy Leagues, it doesn’t give you the chance to do that. You’re not able to go pro from an Ivy League so I think that blocked and minimized my opportunity. Even though the academics are great, I wanted as many options as I could have. At Cal I want to study business, and Cal is obviously a really good business school, so I just thought it was the right fit for me because I also love the coaches, the team there and the overall program was a very inclusive program. It was like one big family, whereas at UCLA, I felt it was more results-oriented. It wasn’t more focusing on if you could grow as a person, it was just I want the best results from you. So that’s why I chose Cal.

DS: That’s cool. How did you feel about your reaction to finally getting your offer?

EL: I was just in shock. I was jumping all over the place. I’m just very grateful that I have the opportunity to play at such a great school since I know how hard it is to get into a lot of these top universities. I’m just happy I can continue to pursue my passion of playing golf and studying at a great school.

DS: What is your new end goal for golf in college? What do you want to do? How do you plan to move forward?

EL: That’s a good question. So my end goal in college is to go pro. So they have this thing called the PGA Tour University and that basically says the top one player, in all of college golf, gets an exemption onto the PGA Tour, which is the professional tour that Tiger Woods plays on. As of right now, before college, I think it’s kind of just continuing what I’m doing continuing to play in these really great tournaments so I can continue to get ready to play college since I think I’m doing things correctly.

DS: How has the sport overall impacted your life and what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from it?

EL: I think that golf has impacted my life a lot because I’ve been playing it for almost nine years now. And I’d say the biggest lesson it’s taught me was basically just perseverance and resilience because sometimes you have good breaks in life, sometimes you have bad breaks, just like sometimes you hit a golf ball and it doesn’t end up in a very fortunate place. So you just have to accept that and you have to move on and you just have to keep playing your game and keep your head up. 

DS: That’s it for Episode 12 of Time Out! Thank you so much to Ethan Lien for joining me on this episode. I’m Dahlia Schilling, and thanks for tuning in, see you next time!

Music credits: Lukrembo – Affogato

About the Contributor
Dahlia Schilling
Dahlia Schilling, Features Editor
Dahlia is currently a junior and a Features editor for El Estoque. In her free time she enjoys traveling, hanging out with her little sisters, and drinking lemonade which her family no longer lets her buy due to the excessive sugar rush it gives her.
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