Ryggs Johnston: A Lethal Weapon

Golf can be comparable to the healthy lifestyle of eating. Not along the lines of it being the better sport for you, but having to do with it being an acquired taste. Golf is not a sport most are exposed to or learn in a physical education class in elementary school. Ryggs Johnston? Well, he was exposed to it at an early age.

Johnston got his name from Lethal Weapon in which the main character was named Riggs. His father’s side of the family had people with names starting with a “R” so it was a no-brainer. Certainly, he has one of the better names.

While most of you had been walking and talking for a few months at age two, Johnston received his first set of golf clubs. They were plastic nonetheless, but it was the start of a dream. The plastic clubs piqued his interest so a year later he got real clubs.

“I would always want to hit real balls with them so I would break them and then a year, or so, after I got my first set of real clubs fit for a three year old and would spend hours in my yard hitting buckets of balls a day. It started to become a passion later on from watching Tiger Woods dominate the PGA and when I started playing in and winning junior tournaments,” said Johnston.

Johnston is one of those new age golfers that is an athlete. He stands tall at 6-2 and played baseball as a pitcher and short stop until he was 12 before committing to golf. In high school, he golfs and plays basketball for Libby High in Montana. Johnston has averaged 23 points the last two years and earned All-State honors as well.

However, Johnston knows golf is his bread-and-butter.

As a freshman at Libby, Johnston set a state record at Pryor Creek Golf with a score of 131 (68-63). A year later he one-upped himself at Marias Valley as he finished with a staggering scorecard that read 128 (61-67).

It did not take long for universities to get accustomed to hearing of the phenom out of Libby, MT. Johnston wasted no time either as he committed to a top 25 ranked golfing program in the Arizona State Sun Devils as a sophomore. Jon Rahm is just one of the latest to come from ASU.

Johnston is in the 2019 class and finished a stellar junior year as the top ranked golfer in the state along with being ranked 16th nationally, according to NHSGA. Over the course of his junior season, he averaged a score of 67 and -3.92 per round. He talked about his commitment to ASU.

“I am very familiar with a like the Phoenix area as my grandparents have a house in Mesa and I have visited often. Tempe is a great area for golf and there are many great courses around that can be played all year with the warm weather. The coaches at ASU are first class and are pushing the program in a great direction as can be seen with recent successes. There is also a fantastic new practice facility being put in at Papago Golf Club for ASU that will feature many new practice opportunities,” stated the young golfer. “My goal for college is to come in and play well, to pave a path to professional golf, and help my team win a national championship, ultimately.”

Indeed, golf is a sport that is near and dear to the Montana native. Every sport can be viewed as a blank canvas with the athletes being the artists. Johnston loves the different nuances that exist in golf. From the different courses, to competing against himself and others, and the ups and downs of the sport, he is very much infatuated with a sport that dates to the 15th century.

The smooth stroking youngster believes the game is 40 percent mental and 40 percent skill with the remaining 20 being attributed to hard work. Consistency is an aspect that is underrated from the pupils of Johnston. He says everyone notices the winners and low scorecards, but golfers like Matt Kuchar always make cuts.

Johnston is ahead of the curve with his mental intuition as he believes working on weaknesses is something that needs to be focused on as much as one’s strengths. In the summer, he spends five hours on the course five days a week when he is tuning his game up. He is an avid student, but he finds two or three hours after school as well.

Basketball and golf are interconnected for him when he is in the zone on the greens. He starts to shoot with unfathomable confidence, believing any and everything is going in. Johnston says his stroke, both on the court and on the course, becomes effortless when he is in rhythm.

Certainly, the upcoming senior has put the work in to become a household name in the golfing realm, but family has been a source of inspiration.

“I can’t say enough how lucky I am to have a family as supportive as the one I have. From teeing up golf balls in the yard for hours, playing catch, taking me to the gym, and taking me across the country to tournaments, they have done everything they could possibly do to help me succeed,” said an upbeat Johnston. “My grandparents are very much involved in my life and used to pick me up from school everyday before I could drive and take me up to the course and drop me off to play or play with me themselves. My mom being a teacher has always made academics high on the list from day one and I am highly motivated by myself to do my best in school.”

It was Johnston’s family that helped him find his niche with golf after giving him golf clubs as a toddler. He saw he had a future with the sport he has come to love and he made sure he put the work in in the class. The Montana phenom has a weighted GPA of 4.5.

Johnston has a year left in high school before he departs to ASU. There is no doubt he will be looking to break records, win some tournaments, and continue to become a household name.

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