Wright State: Golfer Sipe earns degree as he contemplates future

Austin Sipe had a productive four years as a Wright State golfer through last spring and pulled off an impressive achievement in winning the Ohio Amateur at Springfield Country Club last summer.

But he went to college to earn a degree and didn’t want to leave Wright State without it.

Though it took him an extra semester, Sipe completed his coursework as a communication major this week and will get his diploma during graduation ceremonies Saturday.

It wasn’t easy. After sometimes taking 12 credit hours to balance school and golf, Sipe maxed out during the fall semester.

“I manned up and took 18 credit hours,” he said. “Actually, I was very fortunate the athletic office helped me out with my last semester. They wanted me to finish this fall instead of breaking it up in the fall and spring.”

Sipe is one of nine current or former athletes at Wright State getting their degrees.

Parker Ernsthausen, a starter on the basketball team, is graduating in accountancy. The others are women’s soccer players Ashlyn Jemison (psychology) and Peguy Ngatcha (international studies), tennis player Elaine Cloern (art), swimmer Chace Conley (liberal studies), softball player Libby Pfeffer (rehabilitation services), cross-country runner Kristin Sevier (nursing) and volleyball player Alana Smith (communication studies).

“There’s definitely a sacrifice that goes into it,” Sipe said. “Being a student-athlete, sometimes it’s better to spend longer hours in the library than hanging out with friends. It’s just a huge accomplishment representing your family when you go up and get your diploma — and a huge internal gratification in getting it done.”

Sipe came away with more than just the first-place trophy at the Ohio Am. He also made a connection in the business world that will help him in his next phase in life.

He was paired the first two days with Toledo’s Alan Fadel, a former Ohio Am champ and financial investor. The two hit it off, and Fadel set Sipe up at the prestigious Seminole Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla. Starting next week, the Centerville product will caddy to earn income while leaving ample time to work on his game.

Although pro golf is certainly something he wants to pursue, he’s in no hurry. He plans to compete as an amateur for another year — and maybe longer.

He’ll defend his Ohio Am crown this summer at Wedgwood Country Club near Columbus. In 2019, the tourney will be held at his home course, Moraine Country Club, where his father, Brent Sipe, is the head pro.

“You see guys, when they finish college, they immediately turn pro. Part of that is they’re good enough. And another part is they want to start having an income. But a lot of guys get burned out with the grind. That’s what I didn’t want to happen, where I started resenting the game with how much pressure I’d have to put on myself,” Sipe said.

Sipe lowered his scoring average at Wright State each year to 74.55 as a senior while earning second-team All-Horizon League honors. And he shaved off another two or three strokes over the summer.

But he knows he needs to shore up his game to compete with those playing golf for a living.

Asked what he needs to work on most, he said: “Definitely the short game. Watching the pros, their wedge game is unbelievable.

“But I’m going to approach it how I have been doing it — working on the mental side and having a good attitude and getting better my way instead of trying to be someone I’m not.”

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