ATHLETE PROFILE: Howard Smith
Making the All-Tournament Team at the Grenelefe Webber International Tournament over spring break, senior Howard Smith attributes much of his lifestyle to the game of golf, one of the few varsity sports that spans both semesters. Smith discussed his sentiments regarding his academic and athletic experiences at Carnegie Mellon as his Tartan career comes to a close.
The Tartan: When did you first start playing golf?
Smith: As a kid growing up in San Diego, I played a lot of competitive baseball. When I was between 8 and 11 years old, I played in numerous baseball tournaments all over the country. During those years, my brother and I would often go play on a local par-three golf course, even though we really had no idea what we were doing. When I was about 12 years old, a local municipal golf course opened up right near my house, and I became obsessed with golf. From that point on, my friends and I were at the course on most days, and that is when my game began to really improve. I ultimately began playing in a lot of golf tournaments, and then, when my family moved to Las Vegas before high school, there were ample opportunities to play there as well.
T: Are you involved with other organizations or activities at Carnegie Mellon?
S: I have participated in many sports-related activities here at CMU. I am the sports director for CMU’s campus radio station, WRCT. I have helped broadcast most of the school’s varsity football and basketball games over the last three years, including going on many of the teams’ away trips. I am also involved with intramural athletics as an official. I am currently interning at ESPN Radio 1250 as well.
T: What has been your favorite golf course to play? If you could have a course of your own, where would it be?
S: My favorite course that I’ve played was definitely Pebble Beach Golf Links in California. As my high school graduation present, my dad and my friend’s dad took us there to play. Every diehard golfer should make it a point to golf at Pebble Beach at least once in their life. As far as having a course of my own, how about Augusta National, where the Masters Tournament is annually played? I might need to pull a few strings to get access to that place, though!
T: Do you see yourself making time to play golf while you have a career?
S: I will try to, but I definitely won’t have as much time to devote to it as I do at school. Golf is such a great sport for many reasons, one of which is that it is a lifetime sport. I will definitely enjoy playing weekend rounds with my friends down the road and competing in some amateur tournaments.
T: Has being on the golf team had an impact on your academic life at Carnegie Mellon?
S: Absolutely. When we are in-season, we are usually playing tournaments three or four days a week for several straight weeks. I think it would be difficult to balance school and golf if you didn’t learn how to manage your time really well. I think I have gotten pretty good at this because of golf.
T: How do you feel about your academic experiences here? How do you plan to use your education in the future?
S: I have loved every moment of the academics, just like every CMU student! In all seriousness, there are classes that I have really enjoyed, while there have been others that I really couldn’t say that [about]. But overall, it has been a good experience, one that will definitely be beneficial for the rest of my life. As for my future plans, I want to ultimately do something in sports, perhaps college athletics. Next year, I have a job with the NCAA at their headquarters in Indianapolis. It is a one-year program where they hire about 15 or 20 college graduates each year. We’ll see where that takes me down the road.
T: If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be and why?
S: Tough question. I would say Inspector Gadget. That guy is amazing with all his gadgets, and he always finds a way to bail himself out of trouble. I bet he could come up with some device to make him become a really good golfer.
T: Do you have a favorite club for any special reason?
S: The driver, of course. I mean who doesn’t like taking a rip at it, and see it go 280 [yards] down the middle?
T: Did you have a certain golfer as inspiration when you were growing up? If you could play a round of golf with anyone, who would it be?
S: My favorite sport to watch and follow has always been baseball; I have been a lifelong San Diego Padres fan. Because of this, I always looked up to Tony Gwynn because he was a great role model, both on and off the field. As far as playing a round of golf with anyone, I would complete my foursome with the game’s greats: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. We [the golf team] were able to play a tournament last year at Palmer’s course, Latrobe Country Club, which was cool.