Where Are They Now? Ryan Gay Interview
Ryan Gay burst onto the Maine golf scene in the mid-2000s as a talented junior player from Augusta CC, winning the Maine Junior Championship in 2007 and 2008. He then went on to become one of only a handful of players to win the Maine Amateur Championship three or more times, winning in 2008, 2010, and 2011. Gay played high school golf at Gardiner and attended the University of New Mexico and St. John’s University.
We recently caught up with Ryan to see what he’s been up to over the last decade.
Current Hometown: Boston, MA
Current Golf Course: Abenaqui CC (NH) and Augusta CC
Handicap Index: +2.0
Ryan Gay hits an approach shot at Kebo Valley en route to his 2010 Maine Am victory
MSGA: You won the Maine Amateur three times before even graduating from college. What was it like winning at such a young age? Does hindsight almost a decade later make you look back and view it differently?
Ryan Gay: I think looking back on things a decade later definitely changes how you look at it. At the time you are so focused on getting to that next level whatever that may be. For me it was always junior golf, then amateur golf, then collegiate, then professional.
Winning the Maine Amateur at such a young age was a milestone on that career path and gave me a great deal of confidence in my game. However, looking back on it now I am very happy to have won that first Maine Am because my grandfather, who taught me how to play and invested so much time in my golf career and personal development, was still alive to witness it.
Winning at such a young age was incredible at the time because it was always a goal which was part of the plan. However, now that I no longer play full-time competitively, it is definitely more meaningful to have shared that experience with my grandfather.
What was it like playing collegiate golf and what were some of the successes and struggles you had?
Playing collegiate golf is an incredible opportunity. It gives you the potential avenue to a free education, which is an enormous gift. With that being said, it is very challenging. I can’t even imagine what it is like today with how good these players coming up are.
You are given amazing tools (practice facilities, coaches, sports psychologists, fitness instructors, nutritionists, teammates etc.) to get better. You are playing the hardest golf courses in the worst weather you will ever play in your career and watching guys like Bryson, JT, and Rickie shoot absurdly low scores. Plus, it is really the only time you get to play a team sport, and teammates in college are a significant asset when you first move away from home.
My successes came in spurts and usually in the form of low rounds that helped the team in the aggregate. At the individual level, I wasn’t able to consistently string full tournament finishes together which is extremely important if you want to play golf for your career.
My struggles were always dealing with consistency and how to be able to bring the same swing to the course no matter where we were playing or what the conditions were. I had always been able to find a way to win or compete in junior and amateur golf with poor ball striking. However, as the level of competition gets better, and the courses get much more difficult, more weaknesses become exposed. Not to say that you can’t still have success in stretches that way, but if you want to make this a long-term career, you need to be able to show up every week with a game that can win or contend on basically any course which I was never able to do.
Where did you go after college? Did you continue to play golf, be it casually or competitively?
After college I started playing professionally. I was fresh off a third place finish at our collegiate conference championship and missed Monday qualifying into the Travelers PGA Tour event by one shot. I decided I was going to play the Northeast Amateur and give professional golf a try shortly after.
I played different state opens in Maine, Mass, New Mexico and some different Monday qualifiers for a few years. I never won a professional tournament at the state open level and struggled to make any type of consistent money.
Then when it was time to make a decision on whether I wanted to continue down that path or get a job, I gave it one last try by going to European Tour Q school in Germany, which was an amazing experience. However, a middle of the pack finish was what I needed to help me move on to finding a different career.
You started making appearances at MSGA events again this past season. What drew you back to Maine?
When this pandemic struck, and my company went fully remote, it allowed me to work from anywhere. I decided I was going to spend my time with my parents in Maine and rejoin Augusta Country Club, where I grew up playing.
Actually, when I got the job in December of 2016, I probably only played between 5 to 20 rounds a year for four years. Last winter, I finally decided to apply to get my amateur status back and made a commitment to playing more golf.
The Maine Event was held at Augusta and Waterville and looked like an awesome tournament. So I decided to sign up. It was my first competitive round of golf in exactly four years and was a great time. I really enjoyed that.
What is your current occupation?
Currently I am in Technology in Boston. I manage a sales team for a software company in the Enterprise Learning software space.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The MSGA did and continues to do an incredible job of running a fantastic junior program that gives young players the opportunity to compete and earn college scholarships. The talent coming out of Maine the past few years and the scores that it takes to win these events is an amazing testament to Maine golf and the junior program. It was a big part of my life and a great opportunity for me to progress in my career.