Ashburn, VA (October 18, 2016) – The following is an interview with Park View Alumni and Randolph Macon Junior on everything from putts to politics by Chris Pence
Junior Kirby Struhar of the Randolph-Macon men’s golf team spent his J-Term this past January working with and chatting up this year’s presidential election elites. Hear his thoughts on the election, Tiger Woods’s future, and what exactly a handicap in golf is.
Chris Pence: What did you do this past January for J-Term?
Kirby Struhar: My academic advisor, Dr. Elliott Fullmer, organized a trip for a group of students to attend the New Hampshire Presidential Primaries in February. New Hampshire is the first of the presidential primaries, steeped in tradition, and really shapes how the election unfolds. Each student was assigned to a different candidate’s campaign. We had people working for Trump, Clinton, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and others.
CP: Which candidate were you assigned to?
Struhar: I was working for Ted Cruz.
CP: Talk a little bit about your experience.
Struhar: The title of the course is “Retail Politics.” We were at the mercy of our respective candidates for whatever they needed us to do. There were a lot of events to work, door knocking, phone banking, a lot of grassroots work. Having the experience to see the candidates, work with them, say I got to ask them this question, or work with them on this event, all while it being the first election I can vote in was pretty cool. I remember being in a restaurant and meeting Jeb Bush and the first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, he’s pretty tall’…being the short guy that I am. He shook everybody’s hand, took pictures, talked with us and it was a great experience to meet some of these candidates and see them as people up close.
CP: What led you to choose this program?
Struhar: Originally I hadn’t thought of doing this course because I was thinking about an internship on Capitol Hill during the month of January. Then I got an email from Dr. Fullmer about a spot opening up in the course; I immediately went to talk to him about it and realized it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.
CP: So you have an interest in politics. What do you like and not like about it?
Struhar: I think above all else I like the idea that you have people who get to make a difference. You have people who try to do what’s best for whether it’s their country, district, constituents, and I have always believed strongly in that idea. I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to politics. What I don’t like…
CP: If there’s anything?
…I think that politics is a great form of discussion, but when you have two people on both sides that just don’t want to hear what the other side has to say…that can be tough. ‘We disagree without being disagreeable’ is something one of my political role models said and I think sometimes that can get lost.
CP: This has been one of the most interesting and polarizing elections in history, how do you feel about it?
Struhar: I think it’s a learning experience in a lot of ways. It’s been really interesting for me to study it as a political science student and as my first voting experience. You’ve got people that are engaged, from all different demographics that maybe weren’t interested in politics at all before. I think that’s great.
CP: Do you envision a career in politics after school?
Struhar: The way I have always answered that question, what are your plans after college, has been two-fold. For me golf has always been one of the most important things in my life since I was five years old. I would love to do something in golf but politics has been something that I have really enjoyed and grown to love through my time here at Randolph-Macon.
CP: Do you see any parallels between politics and golf?
Struhar: Ha-ha…no…well I’ll say it makes for a great topic of conversation on the golf course, in the appropriate way of course.
CP: What do you like about the game of golf? What drew you to it?
Struhar: Started with family. My mom plays, my dad plays, my mom’s brother played in four U.S. Opens. My grandfather was a big influence on my upbringing in the game of golf. I love the challenge of it, constantly trying to improve and better yourself. I’ve never viewed competition in golf, as I want to beat you. It’s always been I want to see how great I can be. You’re competing against yourself and I have always enjoyed that.
CP: What’s your handicap?
Struhar: Maybe a 2.
CP: Can you explain that to the layman?
Struhar: You’re going to shoot your handicap or better 1 in every 4 rounds. A handicap is the number of strokes you average above and below par.
CP: Do you enjoy watching golf?
Struhar: Oh yeah! [This past week was] Ryder Cup week so the guys and me that’s a lot of what we’ve been talking about.
CP: Who’s your favorite player?
Struhar: In the game today…Jordan Spieth has got to be my favorite.
CP: Do you think Tiger will ever win again?
Struhar: I think it’d be dumb to say no. I think he will.
CP: Your uncle was a professional golfer and played in a few U.S. Opens. Hear any good stories or advice from him?
Struhar: A lot of good stories and advice. He’s always been really good to me in that regard just calling me after a round and talking about it. The way he plays, I got to pick up that old school mentality towards the game from him.
CP: Any advice to aspiring/recreational golfers?
Struhar: Enjoy it. Love it. Always try to get better but don’t let the fact that this game is so hard effect the way you feel about it.
CP: The team has a home event October 10 and 11, the Ted Keller Memorial; think you have a good shot?
Struhar: With Hanover Country Club being the place that it is, it takes some adjustments. There are some holes where there’s a comfort level that you need to have. With as much as we play it and as familiar we are with it, gives us a good chance.
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