Utah’s first junior world golf champion in nearly two decades proves that his passion for the game lies close to his roots.
Somewhere around age 10, Rhett Rasmussen began eating a lot of ice cream. That’s when the young golfer began beating his 7-handicap dad, Kevin Rasmussen, and winning frosty treats for the ride home. “I was about 3 years old when I started golfing,” he says. “My dad would go to work, and I’d go to the putting green with my grandpa.”
Now 14, the Draper native recently defeated a slew of international golfers his age to win the Junior World Championship—the first Utah player to win the title since 1995. He then participated in back-to-back national championships, one as the youngest competitor in the Junior America’s Cup, where Utah’s top four players finished a respectable eighth among teams from across the Western Americas.
Despite having what it takes to go pro, Rhett figures himself just a regular guy. The lanky 5-foot-6 teen has played basketball in several leagues and during the winter can be found on the Snowbird slopes skiing with his buddies.
He even gets a serious case of the nerves when he knows college reps are watching him at tournaments. “You have some college coaches watching you and it makes me a little nervous. I think, ‘Oh jeez. I hope I impress them and don’t make a bad hole,’” he admits.
Though he makes it look easy, Rhett, who has competed in the Junior World Championship five times, recognizes the dedication needed to see results. “It’s a challenging sport that requires work ethic,” says Rhett, who plays up to 20 hours a week and has ambitions to make the PGA tour. “It’s not just something you can pick up overnight.”
Though he respects the golf talent of Tiger Woods, his dad beats out the pro as his constant supporter and coach. “He’ll come and work with me and make sure I’m working on the right fundamentals. It’s always nice to have him there.”
Favorite course: Promontory. “I like hilly courses with elevation changes. I’m not a fan of flat,” Rhett says.
Drive or putt: “I’m not a big guy. A lot of people sit on the range and hit big drives. I’ve always liked putting the most.”
Handicap: Plus one, which is better than scratch (zero) and means Rhett shoots regularly under par
Favorite club: 7 iron because he hits it straight
Power snack: No matter what time of day, Rhett has an open bag of plain potato chips in his bag.
Words of Wisdom
"Practice the right habits, the right mechanics. You have to take some lessons and make sure you're doing the right things. If you really want to get good, you have to keep your goals in mind."