Ask former Penn men’s golf captain and 2010 graduate Bryant Williams when he got into the sport and he’ll take you back to the womb.
“From the day I was brought home from the hospital, I was supposed to golf,” Bryant said.
“I grew up playing a course called Orinda Country Club near Berkeley, Cal. I have fond memories of my dad waking my brother and I up early to go out and play nine holes of golf before school … when we were younger.”
Bryant’s brother, Scotty, is now a senior and Penn’s men’s golf captain. He has been one of coach Scott Allen’s most consistent players.
“Things work out for Scotty,” Allen said. “He’s not your stereotypical Ivy League player. He’s not the stuffy prep school kid in a bow tie. Sometimes his hat’s a little bit sideways, a little bit dirty, but he gets out there and gets it done.”
Scotty has been the Quakers’ best finisher in the Ivy Championships in all three years he has participated, even winning it all in 2010. His sister Kelsey is a freshman on the Penn women’s golf team, and the Williams bloodline has been a crucial presence for the Quakers’ golf program in the last several years.
But it all started with Jim Williams, father of the three siblings and member of the United States Golf Association (USGA) Executive Committee.
As toddlers, Scotty and Bryant would play with plastic clubs and golf tees that Jim bought them. Their early start of hitting balls in their backyard pushed them into the sport.
“We never really had formal lessons — my dad’s always been kind of our coach,” Scotty said. “He’s been the one that’s kind of inspired us to play, so that’s where we got our passion and basic skills.”
“Golf has brought me much closer to my dad and also my brother,” Bryant said. “It’s been a fundamental piece of who our family is.”
The family ties made a difference for Scotty when he was choosing where to play golf in college.
“I was recruited to play at Penn and then had to convince the coaches that Scotty was twice the player I would ever be,” Bryant said. “Scotty is probably the best out of all of us.”
But Penn wasn’t an easy sell for Scotty, despite Bryant’s overtures.
“I wanted to pave my own way,” Scotty said. “But he had such a good time and I came and visited and just loved the school. My little sister was in the same boat I was, wanting to pave her own way, but we all have very similar interests, so it’s hard for us to get away from each other.”
As a child, Kelsey would drive golf carts on the links where her brothers and father played in order to spend more time with them. However, she is unsure if college golf is for her.
“I don’t think I have the potential that my brothers do,” she admitted. “I actually did not have a very good season. [But] I don’t feel any pressure to carry on the legacy.”
That legacy was cemented when Bryant was named captain of the 2009-10 sqaud. Now a captain, too, Scotty has approached his new role similarly to the way his elder did.
“Bryant was kind of a master of team chemistry,” Scotty said. “He taught me you need to have fun with these guys, you need to go out to dinner with them, play basketball and get that team chemistry going so that people can understand that there’s a team aspect to this sport.”
The Williams tradition in Penn men’s golf will come full circle next week. Bryant, now working in San Francisco as an analyst in the investment banking division at Morgan Stanley, will fly out to Galloway, N.J., to watch Scotty play in the Ivy Championships for the last time.
But although his Penn golf career isn’t quite over yet, Scotty feels fulfilled.
“I think I did fill the void,” he said. “I think I kept the Williams legacy going.”