“Just Me and the Ball”
Rising junior Dylan McDermott (Mktg’25) of the CU men’s golf team has played in the No. 1 or No. 2 position in both of his first two years at Colorado. A rare lefty golfer, he started the 2022–23 season by winning the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Classic with a three-round total of 200, the lowest-ever gross score for a CU golfer. In May, he was named to the first-team all-Pac 12 Conference after placing second in the Pac-12 Championship.
You and fellow rising junior Justin Biwer (Acct, Fin’25) played in the top two positions your first two years at CU. How has it been adapting to college play while leading the team?
The competition is up, the courses are harder. A funny thing is that with high school golf, another friend and I were No. 1 and No. 2 all four years as well. But I was not expecting it here. I came in as one of the lower guys. Coming in, I put a lot of effort in over the summer to step up my game, emphasizing things that I hadn’t been good at.
You’ve been remarkably consistent with the Buffs, including closing the fall 2022 season with six consecutive tournaments under par. To what do you attribute your consistency?
I’ve always been on the shorter side of distance, so I have to be accurate. I grew up on a tree-lined course where you have to hit the fairway. If you consistently hit fairways and shots into the green, you can consistently play well.
My dad broke his neck when he was about 15, so he can’t swing much. When we practiced when I was young, we always went to the short game area to work on chipping and putting. If I end up in a bad position now, I believe I’m good enough to save a par.
How do college tournaments work?
Typically, tournaments are 54 holes. Your coaches are basically caddies. Reading putts, picking lines, whatever they can help with — they just can’t carry your bag. They bounce from player to player or stick around on tough holes that we might struggle on. We bring five players to each tournament and count the top four scores from each day. With winter tournaments [in warmer regions], we’ll head out early to get rounds in and practice on grass because we can’t here in the winter.
You’re from Granite Bay, California, near Sacramento. Why did you choose CU?
Roy Edwards, our head coach, gave me an opportunity. It was one of my best offers. Coming to the Pac-12 was awesome because practically all my friends who I grew up playing with went to Pac-12 schools. I get to compete against them. And the practice facilities and everything here are exactly what I need to get better.
Can you share some advice you’ve received from your CU coaches?
Derek Tolan (Soc’20), our assistant coach, tells me to swing confidently. Commit to every shot. A problem I’ve had is I’ll have the shot planned out, but when I try to pull it off, I’ll come out of it and get scared. Like if I don’t want to go in the water, I’ll hit left.
What do you remember about your CU record-breaking Fighting Irish tournament?
Going in, the main thing I worked on was alignment, making sure I was aimed to where I thought I was pointed. When I play my best, I’m typically putting and chipping well. That weekend, I putted pretty badly, but my irons were probably the best they’ve ever been. That was weird. It just shows there are different ways to win.
What contributed to making the 2022–23 season so successful?
Justin pushes me. We’re always battling back and forth trying to be better than each other. Competition sharpens your game. And Derek has helped me focus on my mental game. I can get mad at shots. I’ve started to calm down and believe that even if I start off bad, I can always come back.
When striking the golf ball, how do you block out distractions?
It’s just me and the ball. You can’t tell yourself ‘Don’t go there’ — like the water, because then all your mind hears is ‘water.’ I tell myself to hit the middle of the green, the flag or a spot. When standing over a shot, you need a plan. The line to start on. The finishing point. Your club down. Yardages, wind, everything. It takes years before that comes naturally.
What is something people may be surprised to learn about you?
In junior golf and even last year, I didn’t have much confidence. I truly didn’t believe that I could make it in golf until I started talking with my coaches. Once I won the Notre Dame tournament, that sparked my confidence — not just in golf, but in everything. It’s been a whole different mindset.