If she also was not a top-level student academically, an accomplished musician, and something of a renaissance girl who seems to excel at everything she tries, one might tend to label St. Ursula Academy graduate Pinya Pipatjarasgit simply as a talented golfer who grew up on the course.
But there is so much more to this promising 17-year-old that what she is best known for locally is actually just another item on a sterling resume.
Having earned a 4.654 grade-point average in St. Ursula’s challenging college-preparatory curriculum, Pipatjarasgit was recently honored during commencement exercises as the school’s valedictorian.
In September, she will begin classes at prestigious Ivy League school Brown University in Rhode Island, where she also will be a member of the Bears’ women’s golf team.
She is one of three players from St. Ursula who will continue their golf careers at the college level. Lily Rinker, the Arrows’ top player in 2017, will attend the University of Cincinnati, and Kelsey Sager will go to Bowling Green State University.
Tommy Pipatjarasgit, Pinya’s father and the owner/operator (with his father) of the Toledo area’s 13 Magic Wok restaurants, is just happy his daughter has the desire to explore as many of life’s avenues as possible.
“I’m super proud of her because she’ll get out of her comfort zone,” Tommy said of Pinya. “She sang the national anthem at a Mud Hens game a couple of years ago, and she plays guitar too.
“These things are good for kids. It’s a good experience, whether they win or lose.”
Tommy gets a bit nostalgic remembering when Pinya, older brother Poom, and younger brother Paradon were toddlers rolling down the hills at Highland Meadows in Sylvania, where the family has been longtime members.
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“It feels like it was just yesterday,” said Tommy, who soon will have two of his three children in college. Poom will be a sophomore at Brown, while Paradon will be a junior at Maumee Valley. Mother Annie Pipatjarasgit was born in Thailand, and Tommy also is of Thai descent.
“We were playing at Highland Meadows and we would take Pinya out in the golf cart in a car seat when she was 3 years old,” Tommy said. “She’d go out and hit balls on the range.
“She enjoyed it, and she met other kids playing. She could always just kind of hit the ball.”
Pinya, who was the Arrows’ No. 2 player behind Rinker with an 18-hole scoring average of 74.19 as a senior, was the Three Rivers Athletic Conference player of the year in 2016 as a junior when she averaged a 73.87.
Each year she was part of Arrows teams that finished third in the Division I state tournament. Pipatjarasgit tied for 10th place at the 2017 meet and was seventh in 2016.
In addition to her high school golf accomplishments, Pipatjarasgit also has been a top local junior player almost since her first competitive event at age 9.
The sport has taken her to top amateur tournaments, including to such prestigious courses as Torrey Pines in San Diego and Pinehurst in North Carolina.
“I like the competition,” Pinya said, “and that it’s not so fast-paced like soccer or basketball. I like how much attention there is to detail in that game. I do other things, like piano and guitar, and I feel like those are quite similar to golf in the sense that there’s a lot of attention to detail.
“I love the game. I love practicing. I love hearing the ball drop into the cup. That’s just the most amazing sound to me.”
Tommy acknowledges his daughter has worked hard to hone her course skills, but also credits the coaching of St. Ursula coach Jim McGowan, swing coach Jim McGurk, and Highland Meadows pro Nick Myers.
“There’s some natural talent there, but she worked hard at it,” Tommy said. “There’s a support system, whether it was the friends that she was playing with or the coaches she had. It was definitely not all just her.
“I see that this can open a lot of doors for her. Whether she can go professional, that’s not what the goal was. It was to work hard and do something she really wanted to do.”
McGowan is optimistic Pinya will make an immediate impact at Brown.
“Pinya is so smart and such a hard worker,” McGowan said. “On a golf course, there’s all kinds of different golfers. She takes it apart halfway with her mind. She really thinks the course well, and she’s never really in trouble. She knows how to minimize damage.”
Pinya had scholarship offers from Seton Hall and the University of San Francisco.
“I chose Brown not just because of the golf team, even though I love the team and the coach,” Pipatjarasgit said. “But academics is very important to me, and I really love the concept of the open curriculum. We don’t have any general education requirements, so I can kind of explore all of my interests, and I have a lot of them.
“If I choose something and then decide I don’t want to do that anymore, I can switch my major and still graduate in four years.
“I’m interested in psychology and political science, but I feel like that might change when I get there and start taking my classes.”
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