WELLSBURG — Former Brooke standout golfer Ryan Bilby finished his high school career with three straight individual OVAC Championships and back-to-back state titles.
Now, he is already making an impact at the next level as he finished his freshman year with the third best average on Marshall’s golf team with a 74.10.
Bilby led the team in two different tournaments this year as he finished tied for 10th at Loyola with a 212 after shooting a team-best 69 on the opening day of the event. He led the way for the Thundering Herd at the Dayton Invitational, as well, with a tournament card of 218 to finish 13th overall.
He also delivered his low-round score of 67 on the last day of the Mountaineer Invitational to finish second on the team during the tournament with a 222.
While Bilby has made it look easy adjusting to the college game, he insists it’s much harder than it looks.
“It’s a big adjustment,” Bilby said. “It took a couple of months to get the swing of things. In high school you never compete against your teammates for qualifying spots. Now I am competing every day against the guys I hang out with all the time.”
Although Bilby is competing against his own teammates, he is also cheering them on with every swing of the golf club.
“We just want to win,” Bilby said. “We know how good of a golf team we are. It’s a lot less of an individual portion of it and more of a team effort.”
Bilby’s favorite moment of the season actually came when the team thrived the most as the Herd won its own invitational — the Joe Feaganes Marshall Invitational.
“We hadn’t won a tournament in three years,” Bilby said. “That was the first time we’ve ever won our home event before, too. It was so special and so much fun. It was by far the coolest moment of the year.”
Leading the way during that home tournament was Tyler Jones with a 209, who also led the team this year with a 71.44 average.
He has been crucial to Bilby’s adjustment to the college game and has also been a great friend to the former state champion.
“Tyler is really good,” Bilby said. “He had an amazing spring season with an average under 70. You rarely see that in college golf. We’re really good friends. We practice together and I’ve learned so much from him. He’s a big part of how I’ve gotten to where I am now.”
Not only is Bilby adjusting to the game at the next level but he’s also getting to experience traveling to new places throughout the country.
“I’ve never played in Arizona before and that was probably the best week that I shot all year,” Bilby said. “The weather was beautiful. We went to Saint Simons Island in Georgia, which was an 11-hour drive. We flew to Myrtle Beach. We flew to Texas for the conference tournament. I’d never been to Texas before. There were a lot of places I haven’t been to and I had only flown once before this season so it wasn’t bad at all.”
After a season of new experiences, now Bilby is already setting his sights on next year with high hopes for the Thundering Herd.
“I just hope to play better,” Bilby said. “I try not to think too much. I just do what I can to help us win. I’d much rather win as a team than by myself.”
He’s in the perfect place for a team-first attitude, where the main motto is, “We Are Marshall.”