Since the age of four, Ohio State’s Caleb Ramirez has always loved golf.
It’s a passion that has been instilled in him since his youth, and one that still burns brightly as he prepares to graduate in May. Looking back, Ramirez’s days on the golf course started in Blythe, California, where his father would take him along on the weekends.
“He [Ramirez’s father] was your average, I guess you could say ‘weekend warrior,’ and he’d go out with his buddies and play,” Ramirez said. “When I was around four or five years old my mom just kind of forced him to take me. One of his friends cut down a club for me, and I just started whacking the golf ball basically. I kind of got addicted to it and fell in love with it.”
Ramirez’s golf journey advanced from cut down clubs to junior amateur competitions, qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and placing fifth at the AJGA Sunriver Junior Open. By the end of high school, he’d made his mark and was ready to commit to a college for golf. According to Ramirez, Ohio State was the obvious choice after visiting several schools.
“I’d taken visits to other schools, and initially with OSU what I found was the pride that everyone has around this area, the Columbus area and even the state of Ohio – everywhere I looked somebody was wearing Ohio State,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t see that anywhere else I went, and it felt like something I needed to be a part of. It really connected with me, and it was really hard to say no to that type of atmosphere.”
After he committed to Ohio State in 2015, the men’s golf team underwent a major coaching change. For some, this could be a sign of trouble in the program but Ramirez, however, said he remained fully committed and knew that Ohio State was the place he was supposed to be.
In retrospect, it was a great decision on his part to stick around. For the past four years Ramirez has improved his game each season. His freshman year he was in the lineup for four events and posted six scores to the team tally. He topped that his sophomore year with eight events, in which played four rounds under par, and tied for 14th in the Big Ten Championship. His junior year he had an average score of 74.64 per round, had the second-most eagles on the team and was a Big Ten Player of the Week for his performance at the Carmel Cup. So far in his senior year, Ramirez has turned in his second-best finish to par of his career at the Puerto Rico Classic, where he posted a 216 (69-72-75) and tied for 23rd at even par.
When asked what helps him to elevate his game each year, Ramirez said he looks to his teammates.
“It definitely helps being around players that are really good and have had great experiences where I can kind of pick their brains,” Ramirez said. “Along with the coaching staff, it definitely helps to have the camaraderie with each other, and everybody loves each other on the team.”
With his teammates, Ramirez has been preparing for the final few months of the season. The team has taken practice trips to Florida, battling the harsh elements and using it to prepare for the unpredictable spring weather. He’s also focused on mental preparation, his diet, working out and saving some time to relax. A big part of preparing for each trip for him is time management, and balancing being a student with being an athlete.
“The biggest thing for me is taking care of things before we go on trips,” Ramirez said. “Things like getting done with my homework or getting done with any extra things that I got to do is important so that I’m fully 100 percent committed to what I’m doing on the course for that trip.”
Ramirez’s time as a Buckeye is coming to a close. While he is focused on the rest of the season, he is also excited for the future of the golf team after he leaves. Ohio State signed five recruits in November 2018, including local talents Jackson Chandler and Caleb Davern. They also added sophomore transfer Laken Hinton from Augusta University for the spring season, who Ramirez said has already had a huge impact on the team.
“Coach has done a great job, I think, of getting recruits in that are really highly committed recruits,” Ramirez said. “I think in the next couple of years they’re going to be definitely a factor to contend with in the Big Ten and also around the country in national tournaments. I’m excited for them.”
Ramirez’s passion for golf certainly isn’t dwindling. Although he’s graduating in May with a degree in sports industry, he is planning to peruse a professional golf career after he graduates. In the meantime, he’s focused in on the rest of the season and grateful for the life lessons he’s learned from being on the golf team.
“It’s proven to me that I’m flexible in the things that I’ve done here,” Ramirez said. “The team has kind of changed so much since I’ve been here, but it’s been really cool to see us all band together no matter what the circumstances and be really connected with each other. I think friendship is a really strong tie I’ve learned over the past couple of years.”