As winter weather clears off fairways and allows the spring golf season to begin, Iowa’s top high school player stays in hibernation.
Jeff Swegle pressed pause on his golf-centered schedule after completing his senior season at West Des Moines Valley in the fall.
If a four-time all-stater and Stanford commit who is willfully avoiding the game for a few months seems exceptional, well, it’s because he is.
“I just shut it down,” Swegle said. “I think it’s a huge advantage for me, up to this point in my career, to be able to do that for three-and-a-half or four months. I come back to the game with a fresh pair of eyes and eager to play again.”
Fall golf has been kind to the Iowa Golf Association’s 2011 junior player of the year.
Carrying form from summer tournaments, he recorded the lowest stroke average in Class 4-A in each of the last three seasons.
And as the other three boys’ classes and all of the state’s girls prepare for their spring campaigns, Swegle gets to occupy his time with CrossFit and a strenuous academic load.
“I’ve always been happy that we play in the fall,” he said. “I’d rather not play when I’m just coming back. I’d rather have played all summer and know where I’m going with my game, then try and wrap up the season well.”
Most Iowa high schools teeing off in the spring can overshadow the 4-A boys, but Swegle still stands out.
His accomplishments on the course — 4-A state champion, three-time USGA Junior Amateur meet competitor, 2013 Midwest Junior tournament winner and more — are rivaled by his educational drive.
The National Merit Scholarship finalist is interested in bioengineering and nuclear physics, which could make his time at Tiger Woods’ alma mater even more challenging.
“Obviously it depends on how I do, but I still don’t know whether I want to play golf for a living,” Swegle said. “Golf has kind of always been No. 1, but I’ve been motivated to excel at academics as well. It’s a delicate balancing act.
“I think it’s a pretty good backup to have a degree from Stanford.”
A rare teenager without any social media accounts — “I don’t think everyone in the world needs to have access to everything that I do” — Swegle is trying to set up every building block for a bright future.
“Jeff will bring a lot to our team with his work ethic and focus,” Stanford head coach Conrad Ray said when Swegle signed his National Letter of Intent in November. “He established himself over the last few years as one of the top players in the Midwest, and we see that success continuing for him at Stanford.”
Swegle won’t be playing in the crowded high school calendar over the next two months, but there will be opportunities to see him play before he heads to Palo Alto, Calif. in September.
“I’ll finally be too old for some of the junior events I used to play, so my plan is to play some Iowa Golf Association across the state,” he said. “And maybe see if I can get into a couple national amateur events. I want to test my stuff.”