Andrew Orischak: Hilton head High student tees up for a big career


Andrew Orischak has taken medalist honors at a U.S. Open qualifier, played in dozens of national tournaments and is ranked No. 2 in the nation among junior players by Golfweek.

All while he’s balancing school and homework, because he’s only 15.

“My rule has been to get my schoolwork done as soon as I can,” he said. “Then it’s all golf.”

The high school sophomore recently verbally committed to play golf for the University of Virginia — but only after he graduates from high school in 2017. But thinking big — and far into the future — isn’t too hard for this golf star.

“I’d really like to try to play professionally one day,” Andrew said. “But I’m also thinking of going to law school. Who knows?”

When it comes to school, Andrew makes sure to keep his mind on his books. But when he hits the green, he doesn’t have to worry about focus.

“I love the peace of it,” he said. “My favorite thing to do is go out after school and play nine holes by myself … Golf is a solitary sport. Even if you’re playing on a team, you’re out there on your own, and how you do really is all up to you.”

He’s had plenty of practice. His father, a longtime golfer, put a club in Andrew’s hands when he was just a child, and Andrew said that in seventh grade, he made the decision to step away from one of his other favorite sports, baseball, to focus on golf. And he’s gotten a little of help from other unexpected places along the way.

When his family moved into Hilton Head Island’s Long Cove Club community, Andrew began spending more time on the plantation’s golf courses, and some of his neighbors began taking an interest in his game.

“I play with Jim Magruder and Jim Ferree almost every weekend, and they’ve done so much for me,” Andrew said. “Mr. Magruder likes to tell this joke that he’s playing with his two best friends — one is 15 and one’s 83.”

The pair has become such a big part of Andrew’s golf life that Magruder acted as caddie when Andrew played in the 2014 U.S. open qualifier on Hilton Head. And Ferree also knows a thing or two about golf — he played on the PGA Tour and racked up 18 professional wins.

“Just playing golf with these guys has taught me so much,” Andrew said. “And not just about golf. They’ve taught me about life, businesses, planning for the future, everything. I love just going and playing with them.”

Andrew has been taking these lessons to heart. He recently decided not to play on Hilton Head Island High School’s golf team this spring to instead focus on national tournaments. That drive has helped get him where he is today, though he still seems to have trouble wrapping his head around his success.

“At the end of last year, I never would have predicted that I would be where I am now,” Andrew said.