Out with hand injury, UNC’s Austin Greaser leans into his faith
Austin Greaser wasn’t used to team workouts with this few people in attendance.
While most of his North Carolina teammates were in Hawaii for their spring opener, the Amer Ari Invitational, Greaser and three other teammates gathered last Monday for an on-campus training session.
Greaser, a star senior for the Tar Heels and currently the fifth-ranked amateur in the world, had only missed two events in his career to that point – both in order to rest after demanding weeks at last spring’s Masters and last fall’s World Amateur Team Championship in Paris.
But this time, a left-hand injury kept Greaser off the travel squad.
“I had a really hard week,” Greaser said. “Last Monday, we show up to the weight room, warmed up and started out first set, and our trainer looks at me and says, ‘You’re just not very happy today, huh?’ And I said, ‘Man, not really. I just don’t miss events.’”
Greaser preferred not to go into detail about the injury, but he did say he has been having some discomfort in the hand for about a year. He doesn’t have a specific timetable for his return, but his recovery from what was a minor procedure two weeks ago is expected to keep him out a few weeks.
“I’m doing everything I can to get back to where it needs to be,” Greaser said. “I’ve played on it for a year, so it’s not like I can’t play. I just think between myself and my small circle around me of people who I trust that have my best interests at heart, we just felt like it was best to try and get this thing close to feeling good before I really start playing because my spring semester obviously means a lot for my career moving forward, and it didn’t make sense to go play if I didn’t feel 100%.”
Not only is Greaser a key component for North Carolina’s NCAA title run this spring, but he also sits second behind Texas Tech’s Ludvig Aberg in the PGA Tour University ranking. The No. 1 player after the NCAA Championship receives a PGA Tour card while the rest of the top five all get full Korn Ferry Tour status this summer.
Greaser has every intention of being ready for the stretch run this spring, but he’s also trying to be more intentional about another aspect of his life: his faith.
A devout Christian since he was 8 years old, Greaser remembers watching Scottie Scheffler’s interview after winning last year’s Masters and being inspired by how Scheffler wasn’t reluctant about sharing his faith:
The reason why I play golf is I’m trying to glorify God and all that He’s done in my life. So, for me, my identity isn’t a golf score. Like Meredith told me this morning, if you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, she goes, I’m still going to love you, you’re still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you and nothing changes. All I’m trying to do is glorify God, and that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m in position.
“That really moved me and put thing in perspective,” said Greaser, who got the chance to play a practice round with Scheffler at the U.S. Open a couple months later.
“I’ve had a really cool last 20-24 months. I’ve gotten to go a lot of amazing places, meet a lot of cool people, play in some unreal events. … But I’ve realized that if we’re putting our hope and joy and happiness in things of this world and in golf, for instance, it’s going to let you down. I wish over the last 20-24 months I would’ve been a little more vocal about what I believe and shared how all of what I’m experiencing in golf is amazing, but it’s not what I hang my hat on at the end of the day.”
That’s not to say missing last week’s tournament, which ended being canceled because of high winds, wasn’t difficult, but Greaser got over it quickly by leaning into his faith. He’s also found recent motivation to create a second Instagram page, this one devoted to his daily Bible readings, to be more outspoken about his beliefs. Greaser’s teammate, David Ford, does something similar: A virtual bible study with his brother, Maxwell, who plays at Georgia, and another friend.
Greaser’s new account, livinghope.ag, already has almost 500 followers, and Greaser plans to post about a half-dozen times a week, sharing scripture and his commentary on it.
His first entry was Hebrews 11:13-16.
“Sometimes it’s hard to talk about that kind of stuff,” Greaser said. “But at the end of the day, whether it scares people away or changes what they think of me or not, it doesn’t matter. I would rather them know about what I believe in and what my hope is in rather than them liking me as a person or golfer.
“I’m going to roll with it and go where I’m led to go with it, and we’ll see what happens.”