In early October, at the Matthews Auto Collegiate Invitational, the Binghamton golf team was struggling at the start of the final round. It was sitting in a tie for seventh place and had a combined score of 12 over par. An air of disappointment hung over the team, as the chance to perform well on its home turf seemed to be slipping away.
By the time the final round was over, the script had completely flipped. With sophomore Ryan Rodriguez leading the way, the Bearcats vaulted up the leaderboard, finishing third in a field of 17, just two shots shy of the victory. Binghamton’s final round was the best-scoring round of the entire tournament, at 288. Rodriguez himself finished with a total score of three under par, sinking four consecutive birdies along the way in front of a supportive group of loved ones.
“Our home tournament was a lot of fun,” Rodriguez said. “My mom and my girlfriend were able to come up and support me, that was pretty amazing … I was fortunate [enough] to play well, and, more importantly, the team was fortunate [enough] to play well. It was a great experience.”
For Rodriguez, however, this home tournament was just one shining moment in his long history of playing golf, a sport that he has been involved with since the early age of 2.
“My dad got me into golf when we moved to where I live now,” Rodriguez said. “There’s a golf course about a half-mile down the road, and my dad introduced it to me when I was about 2. I got aboard pretty quickly.”
After many years of honing his talents, Rodriguez decided to try his hand at collegiate golf. He initially attended Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, during his freshman year, but he felt like the environment of the school wasn’t a good fit for him. Desiring a change, Rodriguez decided to leave Saint Peter’s and transfer to Binghamton.
“I liked the environment we have here, so I transferred,” Rodriguez said. “Luckily there was a spot for me, and it’s worked out perfectly. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here so far.”
The change in schools seems to be paying its dividends on the course as well. Rodriguez enjoyed a successful fall season, consistently placing at, or near, the top of the Bearcats’ scoresheet in each invitational. Rodriguez’s performance at the Matthews Auto Collegiate Invitational was one of the top performances by a BU athlete this season, and the closest anyone has come to an individual victory at a tournament this fall.
Although the time and effort that Rodriguez puts into his golf performance is significant, he also spends time pursuing other hobbies and areas of interest. He loves to fish and is otherwise an avid outdoorsman, who enjoys the beauty and serenity of nature, which he cited as one of the reasons he wanted to transfer to Binghamton. More significantly, Rodriguez is interested in cinematography and even runs his very own freelance cinematography business, Ryan Rod Films, which works with numerous small businesses around Rodriguez’s hometown. The company makes videos that help market businesses’ products and services.
“I want to be an entrepreneur of some sort, and I’d like to own my own media company somewhere down the road,” Rodriguez said. “I think [my business] is a great gateway and I’ve gotten a lot of hands-on experience.”
Although Rodriguez has this eventual goal clear in his mind, he said there’s nothing that’s completely finalized. Rodriguez, though undecided about his postgraduation plans, feels confident that he’s worked hard enough at a wide variety of skills to access a few job opportunities after college. With his golfing talent, his experience in cinematography and his planned psychology major, Rodriguez looks to combine his skills, interests and efforts into a fruitful career.
“I don’t have anything written in stone for exactly when I get out of college,” Rodriguez said. “I just know that I’m going to trust what I’ve been working hard in, and hopefully that will open up some doors.”
With his wide range of abilities and passions, it seems only a matter of time.
Rodriguez and the rest of the Bearcats golf team can next be seen on Friday, March 9, 2018 as they kick off the spring season at the Jackrabbit Invitational in Boulder City, Nevada.