Golf has a unique way of forcing the rest of the world to go away.
That pearl of wisdom comes from Brandon Moore, who was once an aspiring college basketball player and now is a golfer at Saint Martin’s University.
For one round of golf – one trip around a course – the group consists of just you and the partners with whom you are playing.
“The biggest thing with golf is the relationships you build,” Moore said. “People you may not necessarily talk to outside golf, maybe with different political views, you can hang out on the golf course for five hours and just be friends.”
At 29, Moore is the clear elder on the Saint Martin’s squad. He has made a few more life rounds than his teammates.
“He’s a calming influence,” Saints coach Kevin Bishop said. “He’s my co-pilot.
“I’d love to have a guy like Brandon every year.”
The story of how Moore, a 2001 graduate of Washington High School in Parkland, came to end up in the Saint Martin’s program takes a winding road through Olympia and Bellingham – through jobs working in retail television sales and in a golf-equipment chain store, transitioning from vagabond hoops junkie to hardcore golfer.
In 2000, Moore was a role player as a junior on the Washington High team that advanced to the Class 3A state basketball tournament. The next season, he developed his offensive game well enough on the wing to get some recruiting attention from junior colleges.
He decided to attend South Puget Sound Community College for one year.
“It was not the program I was looking for, I guess,” Moore said.
Moore moved to Bellingham, hoping eventually to play for Western Washington University. He enrolled at Whatcom Community College, but his dream was cut short when he injured his knee during a pickup game.
He left school and worked a few sales jobs here and there. While selling televisions for an electronics retailer, he met co-workers who played golf on their days off.
No stranger to the game – he had played golf in high school – Moore got the bug to really take up the sport seriously.
Eventually, he landed a job at the Puetz Golf store in Tacoma, and worked the front desk there for almost five years.
“Pretty much all I did was go to work and play golf,” Moore said.
Moore played in many of the top regional amateur events – the Puget Sound Amateur, the Tacoma City Amateur and the Capital City Amateur. His name began showing up on leaderboards – most notably a fifth-place finish at the 2010 Seattle City Amateur.
Looking to take another crack at college, Moore narrowed his choices to Pacific Lutheran and Saint Martin’s.
Bishop made a place for him with the Saints. Moore enrolled at the university in Lacey, and became eligible for the golf team last spring.
This season, Moore is one of the guys Bishop is leaning on in the postseason. After a runner-up finish last week at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships in Idaho, Saint Martin’s will be headed to the NCAA Division II West/Central Super Regional starting Monday at the Gold Course at Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz.
Moore slots right behind seniors Zach Dietz and Matt Epstein, both all-GNAC performers, in the lineup. At the conference tournament, Moore opened with a 3-under-par 69 to share the early lead at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course in Idaho in helping the Saints to an eventual second-place showing behind powerhouse Western Washington.
He’s fourth on the Saints with a 75.8-stroke scoring average.
“Brandon’s just a good athlete,” Bishop said of the 6-foot-4 Moore. “He’s got a very simple, repeating golf swing, more to the likeness of somebody much shorter. He makes good contact on the ball.
“He is Mr. Calm, just ultimately very calm throughout a round.”
Now he is the old man on the squad – one who is expecting to wed Jennifer Knittel in August. He is seeking a degree in business administration and holds down a 3.0 grade-point average.
If things break right, he would not mind a job someday in golf management.
Moore often revisits his days working at Puetz. Back then, he was playing a ton of golf – mainly with people much older.
Now, he is the older guy to his teammates.
“Those relationships really help shape who you are as a person,” he said. “Once you’re out on the golf course, your age isn’t nearly as important.”