Beyond Her Years: A Perpetual Smile Pushes Dana Bryant to Succeed
“Please” and “thank you.” “Ma’am” and “sir.”
Those are not always words you hear from teenagers, but for 18-year-old Dana Bryant, they are standard.
Bryant, who is currently enrolled at UC Santa Cruz as a member of the women’s golf team, has developed deep connections with the people around her through the game of golf, but also through her impressive disposition.
“She’s always been a respectful kid. Golf has just enhanced that,” said Teresa Thornton, SCGA Junior instructor, who has coached Bryant for six years. “She’s always polite, respectful and helpful. Over the years, I’ve seen her become more confident and outspoken. She’s now able to introduce herself and talk to anyone she might meet and play with at the golf course.”
Bryant has been a member of SCGA Junior since moving to California at age 12 and has had the opportunity to participate in Play Days because of both her skill and her character. Play Days are events where the most involved SCGA Junior members are invited to play at private clubs with members, and Bryant emphasizes that they are her favorite Junior event. She’s had the opportunity to play at Palos Verdes GC and The Los Angeles CC, but says that her favorite course is Wilshire CC because of a lasting connection she’s made there. “I met Mr. Steven Cha two years ago and we keep in close contact,” Bryant said. “He always encourages me and tells me how proud he is of me.”
Bryant and Cha have even played together outside of Junior events, teeing it up at Wilshire alongside LPGA professionals Jing Yan and Ayako Uehara. “I went to spectate the LPGA tournament at Wilshire, and thought it was so cool that I got to play the same course that the pros played,” Bryant said. “It was surreal to be able to play with the professional golfers and see the level of their game.”
Even though Cha is impressed with Bryant’s game, he spoke immediately about her demeanor.
“She’s incredibly well-mannered and impresses people everywhere she goes,” Cha said. “She’s impressed me and I know she’s left a mark on a lot of other people as well.”
Asked what her greatest asset is on the course, Bryant answered with no hesitation: attitude.
“I try not to get discouraged,” said Bryant through her seemingly permanent smile. “I know I’m just out there having fun. My pet peeve is when people slam clubs. I’m like, ‘Oh, don’t do that, it’s just not that serious.’”
Bryant credits her positive attitude to Thornton as well as her mother.
“My mom always tells me you never know who’s watching, so you have to be a good example out there,” Bryant said. “Just keep a good attitude on the course.” Bryant, already an athlete in her middle school days, picked up golf because she wanted to try a new sport, but now she’s fallen in love with the way that the game aligns with her educational passions.
“Golf has a lot to do with math and science,” she said. “It’s about calculating how far can I hit a certain club as well as looking at the green and figuring out how the ball could run into the hole. Very strategic thinking.”
Bryant is majoring in human biology, with the dream of going to medical school and becoming a physician for an NBA team. She’s looking forward to college as a time to continue pursuing her passions both on and off the course.
“I’m excited to meet new people and try new things and to travel,” Bryant said. “It’ll be great to meet the team and hit the ground running on my education.”
“GOLF HAS A LOT TO DO WITH MATH AND SCIENCE. IT’S ABOUT CALCULATING HOW FAR CAN I HIT A CERTAIN CLUB AS WELL AS LOOKING AT THE GREEN AND FIGURING OUT HOW THE BALL COULD RUN INTO THE HOLE. VERY STRATEGIC THINKING.”
Those close to Bryant are just as excited to see what the next chapter has in store for such an accomplished young woman. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her navigate through young adult and college life and share her story with others,” Thornton said. “Seeing everything she’s learned in golf, from her family and church and putting it all together, she’s going to be successful in college. Not just on the golf side, but also as she meets other people and experiences other culture and backgrounds.”
Bryant is excited and nervous about the next stage of her life, but with her perpetual smile and maturity beyond her years, she’s set herself up for success, thank you very much.