Taylor Funk was never pushed to play golf.
The son of a long-time professional golfer, Taylor, a finance sophomore, never felt pressure to take up the game from his father, Fred, who won eight times on the PGA Tour.
“He never really pushed me to play golf. Always being around it growing up, I loved golf,” Taylor said. “He never really pushed me, and I thank him for that — just letting me do what I wanted to do.”
From an early age, Taylor always had a club in his hand. He slapped around whiffle balls in the backyard as a kid and followed in his father’s footsteps.
Taylor and Fred’s relationship took a new turn when they transitioned to player and caddie. Taylor was home-schooled his entire life. By age 15, he was on the bag, caddying for his father out on the Champions Tour.
“It was fun to be inside the ropes and help him out,” said Taylor, who was on the bag when Fred won the Insperity Championship Invitational in 2012. “Being around the greats like Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and caddying in the same groups as them helped me learn a ton about the game.”
But Taylor didn’t spend all of his time in high school giving yardages, cleaning clubs and hauling a 50-pound bag around for his father out on tour. He had his own game to focus on. The Florida native won four junior tournaments and the class 2A state championship while in high school.
And when the colleges came calling, there was only one place he wanted to go.
“Once I got the offer to come to Texas, I knew something big was happening,” said Taylor, whose mother’s side of the family all went to Texas. “I always dreamed of going to Texas to play golf, but I never thought I’d be good enough.”
Since then, Taylor has spent a great deal of his time on the 40 Acres trying to prove himself, his father said. Taylor got a boost of confidence when he won the prestigious Southern Amateur last summer.
But at Texas, he’s bounced in and out of the starting lineup for a large portion of his career prior to 2016.
Taylor competed in only three events last season as a redshirt freshman, with his best finish being 33rd. He played in two of Texas’ three events in the fall of this season, tying for 66th and 79th.
But Taylor has played in all five tournaments this spring, posting his best career finish two weeks ago at the Lamkin San Diego Classic when he tied for fifth.
The lack of early playing time is something Fred knew could happen at an elite golf program like Texas.
“It’s very difficult for [guys] to break into the lineup,” Fred said. “I told him that when he picked a program like that, that you could sit on the bench for a long time if you’re not playing well and may not ever start.”
Taylor’s days of caddying for his father may have passed, but the shared bond of golf will always be there for them.
“He just wants me to be happy with whatever I’m doing,” Taylor said. “Luckily golf makes me happy the most. I don’t want to sit behind a desk all my life. But the fact that golf just happened to be what I want to do, it’s a nice reward to have [my dad] there for me.”