The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


St. Mark's School of Texas
10600 Preston Road Dallas, TX 75230
The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


Shooting for the tour

Sophomore Duff McKay recalls the highs and lows of his golf career. Recently, McKay has continued his progression by qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur, where he hopes to further improve his national ranking.
TEE OFF McKay takes his shot at Sherrill Park while gauging where his ball is going to drop.

Every April, fans of the legendary Masters Tournament dream of suiting up to play and driving down the famed Magnolia Lane in Augusta, Georgia.

One of the few given the sought-after opportunity is sophomore golfer Duff McKay, who was able to fulfill his dream of playing Augusta National because of his relentless work ethic and dedication to the game.

McKay began his golf journey at a very young age thanks to his father, Mark McKay, and immediately discovered he had immense passion for the game.

“I got my first set of clubs when I was 10 months old,” McKay said. “I started going to the range when I was two and I played in my first tournament when I was five.”

Throughout his career, a number of important role models heavily influenced and mentored McKay.

“I always looked up to my dad because he’s always been a good player,” McKay said.  “Will Zalatoris has also been a big role model for me. I’ve seen him and all of his success, and it’s been cool to see his career on tour unfold before my eyes.”

Perhaps one of the most surreal moments of McKay’s career occurred when he was just 13 years old. McKay qualified for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, which took place at Augusta National. There, he competed with thousands of people watching the course.

“Augusta was really cool,” McKay said, “You get to go to the practice round the next day and see all the players and get a VIP ticket for autographs. It’s a full package experience.”

Upon his return to Dallas, McKay opened a new chapter, starting to train even harder with his current private coach, Rick Woodson. Woodson has spent years coaching college and professional golfers, and he believes McKay could one day take their place.

The two have now created a strong bond, a necessity between every player and his coach.

“It’s been well over two years now that we’ve been working together,” Woodson said. “He’s a great player, a great young man and he’s got a really bright future.”

The efforts of McKay’s coaches and mentors certainly have not gone to waste. He’s implemented all the lessons and teachings into all his tournaments with a high degree of success.

“I played really well in the Junior Byron last year,” McKay said. “All the best players from Texas were there and I came 23rd out of 100, being the youngest in the field. That was a really good finish for me.”

Heading into his sophomore season with the Lions, McKay hopes to help lead the team to an SPC victory after a loss to Kinkaid in the finals last year.

“Losing last year was really disappointing, a win this year would mean a lot to me and help with my college recruitment,” McKay said.

Woodson firmly believes that McKay has what it takes to take his game to the next level, attributing his success to his unparalleled work ethic and the countless hours he has spent perfecting his craft.

“I’ve been around tour professionals since ’86 and played for a living for 12 years,” Woodson said. “I have never seen anyone work harder than Duff, including professionals.”

This summer, after the SPC tournament, McKay will participate in his first United States Golf Association tournament at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. McKay will once again be the youngest golfer playing and will compete against numerous college golfers, but he’s looking to come home with another great finish.

“I’ve had numerous good finishes at smaller tournaments, but those aren’t as important as the big tournaments,” McKay said. “Placing well at my first USGA tournament would mean a lot to me.”

Beginning next year, McKay will begin his college recruiting process. As the 10th ranked golfer in the class of 2026 and the 40th nationally, Woodson believes McKay will earn offers from some of the top golf programs in the country.

“In five years, I see Duff being one of the most elite college players in the country,” Woodson said.

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About the Contributors
Michael Jimenez, Staff Writer
Weston Chance, Staff Writer