By Haig Boyadjian
Young golfer Alex Kuyumjian made headlines in Sports Illustrated and Golf Week magazines this year when he won his first college individual title at the Ping-Arizona Intercollegiate tournament in January. Kuyumjian has led the USC golf team in several tournamen’s since his transfer to the esteemed university. The gifted 22 year old has been golfing with his uncle since the age of 11–and found himself in tournamen’s at just 13 years old. " I loved playing golf–and my uncle realized I had talent–so I began intense practicing on a regular basis," recalls Kuyumjian. His father–Shant Kuyumjian–encouraged his son’s love for golf by enrolling Alex in various junior tournamen’s and leagues. By the age of 12–Alex was telling his father that professional golf was his future.
He transferred to USC mid-year 1999-2000 from the College of the Canyons in Valencia–CA–where he was a two-time Weston State Conference Player of the Year (conference for elite junior college teams)–winning the conference championship both years at College of the Canyons. Kuyumjian attended Westlake High in Westlake Village–CA–where he won the CIF Individual Southern Section Championship in 1996. Kuyumjian also attended Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian Elementary in Encino–CA.
Kuyumjian is considered one of USC’s top golfers. He has finished in the top ten in numerous tournamen’s–leading the Trojans on many occasions. Last year–Alex posted seventh at the Pac-10 Championship and led USC at the NCAA West Regional. This year’s win at the Ping-Arizona Intercollegiate was Kuyumjian’s season debut after sitting out of the fall season.
His most recent win was at the Pac-10 Championships (April 27-29)–where Kuyumjian came in fifth–and was named to the All-Pac-10 first team. The Trojans won their first Pac-10 team title since 1986–making it their sixteenth Pac-10 golf championship–more than any other school. The Trojans are next in action at the NCAA West Regionals hosted by Oregon State at Trysting Tree Country Club in Corvallis–Ore.–on May 17-19. If Alex wins the NCAA West Regionals–there is a good chance he might be sponsored to play into the PGA Tour–which has been his lifelong dream.
Alex Kuyumjian was brought up in a typical Armenian home. His parents have made enormous sacrifices so that their son could pursue his dream of becoming a professional golfer. I could not help but notice the glimmer in Alex’s father’s eyes as I was interviewing his son. " I told my son that he’d be the only Armenian in the world to play professional golf–and that he should be proud," commented Kuyumjian.
"My son’s life has been school and golf," says Alex’s father. "His mother and I are proud of his golfing–but also because he has never given us problems that are common with many teenagers." Alex Kuyumjian demonstrated his dedication to both golf and school when he sat out the fall season to concentrate on academics. Mr. Kuyumjian said he would like to see more Armenian kids taking up golf as a pastime.
Although Alex went to an Armenian elementary in his younger years–there were only two other Armenian students at his high school. Nevertheless–his parents felt it was important to raise both Alex and his sister in an Armenian environment–instilling cultural values and traditions in them. In 1986 Alex visited Armenia with his father at the age of eight. He doesn’t remember much–but hopes to make a second trip one day. "I would love to go–however–there aren’t any golf courses in Armenia–and I cannot go 15 days without training," said the young golfer. Kuyumjian trains everyday between 5 and 6 hours. Both he and his father mentioned they heard a course was being built by a Diasporan philanthropist–but that it was left unfinished due to the parliament shootings in 1999.
"For me the close-knit family is what I associate as being typically Armenian," said Alex. He recalled how his junior college coach would constantly tell him he’d never seen such supportive and loving parents–and that Alex owed his accomplishmen’s to his parents. Alex has also received encouragement from fellow Armenia’s he has encountered on the golf course. "One time–an older Armenian man approached me when he read ‘Kuyumjian’ on my golf-bag–and told me that he head heard of me–and wished me luck," said Kuyumjian.
Gifted young Armenia’s like Alex must be embraced by the community. Armenia’s take pride in the accomplishmen’s made by other Armenia’s; however–they must also help these individuals in reaching their goals. It won’t be long before more and more Armenia’s will take notice of Alex Kuyumjian–and boast of ‘their’ very own golf champion.