Senior spotlight: Daniel Nunez is a veteran for men’s golf

In his final year, Nunez hopes to lead team back to NCAA championships


Media Day Photograph

Senior Daniel Nunez posing for his one of his media day photos

Daniel Nunez has had a golf club in his hands for as long as he can remember. Literally. He estimates that he first picked one up around the age of two.

“My dad was super into golf, so I would just go with him to the golf course when I was super young. I’m pretty sure my mom would be like, ‘Okay, I need some time alone, so you babysit.’ And my dad was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna go to the golf course.’ And I would just sit there and watch him hit balls … it was always a hobby for me,” Nunez said.

But as Nunez got older, his attention shifted, and he was introduced to other sports. He played basketball, football, soccer, baseball and tennis through his freshman and sophomore years of high school. It was at that point that he realized he likely wouldn’t have the opportunity to play these if he wanted to pursue a sport in college. At that time, he decided to narrow his focus and pursue golf.

“Golf was at the back of my mind for a while. I was never really good growing up … But I was homeschooled for a year in eighth grade. Obviously, I couldn’t play any other sports because there was no team or anything. So that was when I said, ‘Hey, I guess I could start playing more [golf].’ That’s when I started taking it a little more seriously and then in high school, that was kind of a wake-up call. Like, damn, I’m not as good as I think I am. I didn’t make varsity my freshman year, didn’t make varsity my sophomore year. And that was kind of a wake-up call. If you want to actually try and play this, you have to put some focus, put some time and energy into it. So that’s what I did.”

With the increase in focus and dedication to the game itself came a similar effort to continue his career beyond high school. Nunez began to send emails to college coaches. One of those that would respond was Sean Etheredge, Trinity’s Director of Golf and the head coach of the men’s team.

It was a combination of golf, academics and location that pulled the Los Angeles native away from home for college.

Nunez described his first year as successful, but looking back, attributes it mostly to luck. In his sophomore and junior seasons, he didn’t match the level of play that he experienced as a first-year. It opened the door for growth, though, and has allowed him to become a leader of the team in his senior year.

“I think I’m a lot more mature emotionally on the golf course. That’d be the biggest difference … Sean’s helped a lot, helping me mature just in the way that I play and also just managing emotions on the golf course. Then it’s about trying to help the younger guys go through the same thing. I was very resistant to learning and to changing. Now in hindsight, I could have played a lot better had I learned this a lot sooner. Now it’s about trying to get the younger guys to understand that and do that same thing. If you hit a bad shot, it’s not the end of the world. You

got to let it go and focus on the next shot at hand. And had I learned that earlier? I think I would have been a lot better earlier on. But Sean’s great at developing that and I think now my role as a senior, that’s something that I really want to try to help you guys understand.”

Early on this year, it seems like things are working for Nunez and the team as a whole. As an Individual, Nunez already has two top-10 finishes across three tournaments played. In the team’s most recent outing he finished 10th, as the Tigers rallied from a fourth-place standing to win the Alamo City Classic. They entered the day in a five-shot hole, not only erasing it but ultimately finishing six shots ahead of the second-place team.

“This final round kind of made us realize the potential that we really do have … [it] showed that all of our practice and all this stuff is paying off and we can be as good as we think we are,” Nunez said.

So far in his career, Nunez has racked up honors including four Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Golfer of the Week awards, a spot on the All-SCAC second team in 2021 and spots on the PING All-West Region team and All-American third team.

Nunez was a member of a squad that made the NCAA Championships in the spring of 2021, the first appearance Trinity had made in 20 years, according to him. While younger Tigers have shown promise early this year, it’s certain that Nunez will play a large role in Trinity’s success if they hope to return to the biggest stage at this level.