Turner Southey-Gordon ’11 has a dream job many would envy. A recent graduate of Duke University, Southey-Gordon just launched a career as a professional golfer and moved to West Palm Beach, Fla. this past fall to enter tournaments and practise year-round.
Southey-Gordon came to Upper Canada College in Grade 3. He was a gifted student and natural athlete, excelling at several sports, but particularly golf. He joined the UCC golf team in Grade 8. While there were no official practices at the College, the team took part in regular competitions.
“Every Wednesday in the spring, for six weeks or so, we would go to a golf tournament,” he recalls. “Jim LaPlante, head of IT, would drive us.”
Southey-Gordon practised at a golf club in Etobicoke, Ont. after classes. He was inspired by the example of his grandfather, an avid golfer, and Mike Weir, who “set the stage for Canadian golf” when he won the Masters Golf Tournament in 2003.
Getting caught up on schoolwork missed because of golf tournaments taught Southey-Gordon the benefits of time management and organization, skills that came in handy at university. He headed off to Duke in Durham, N.C. on an athletic scholarship in 2011.
At Duke, Turner played 40 hours of golf per week on top of attending classes and having a social life. He was twice named Academic All-American and graduated on the dean’s list.
The Duke men’s golf team won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2013. Two years later, with Southey-Gordon as captain, the team made it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship tournament but didn’t win. He graduated from Duke with a degree in cultural anthropology and marketing this past May and became a professional golfer shortly thereafter.
Of his game, Southey-Gordon is modest, though he describes himself as “a really good putter.” The secret of his success boils down to attitude, he says. “I just have a really good time golfing. You put so many hours into it, you still have to enjoy playing and practising.”
He also credits his family for being loyal and encouraging. “They’ve always let me make the decisions I want. They’ve been very supportive,” he says.
Southey-Gordon’s father, Robert Gordon ’79, played tennis professionally after leaving school. Now an orthopedic surgeon in Toronto, Gordon says he wasn’t surprised when his son blossomed at golf, “because he’s very talented in numerous sports. UCC is great at nurturing people like that. They combine academics and sports really well.”
Interestingly enough, Southey-Gordon had company at UCC. He was classmates with Brandon Ng, another golf prodigy who recently graduated from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. “We’re still really good friends. We keep in touch. I see him pretty often,” says Southey-Gordon.
“I love Turner,” says Ng, who has also become a golfer. “We’ve been close friends since Grade 7 and spent a lot of time together. Golf is an individual sport but Turner has always been a friend whenever we compete against each other.”
Southey-Gordon is raising money through his website to cover the pricey entry fees required for pro golf tournaments. Like Weir, Southey-Gordon hopes to someday make it to the Masters. “That’s the lifelong dream of any professional golfer, to play in that tournament,” he says. “I really want to try this pro life out for a few years and see where that takes me.”