SAN ANTONIO — Riley Yount started playing golf at age six. Nine years later, he's using the green to make an impact on young golfers.
Riley Yount is as quiet as a game of golf. He said he's a little more action-packed once you get to know him.
The 15-year-old got introduced to golf at age six.
"I just loved everything about it," Riley said.
He's on the golf team at O'Connor High School, where Coach Bryan Heath is impressed with Riley's game.
"Riley has as much potential as any other player I've ever coached," Heath said.
The golf coach has seen a bevy of players as the team's leader for 20 years. Heath believes Riley checks the list to be great.
"He has a quiet confidence that you can see," Heath said. "That really helps, I think, drive his success on the golf course."
The teen comes from a Louisiana State University household, so vying for an LSU spot is highly likely.
"As parents, we could not be more proud of Riley's accomplishments," his parents said. "But what really warms our hearts is his desire and willingness to help others, especially young children through the game that he has grown to appreciate and love so much."
Richard and Marilu Yount have invested in Riley's golf enthusiasm. The costs annually for him to look the part and get coaching can exceed $10,000.
The teen uses the power of his privilege to help others learn the game or those who may not have the advantages he does.
"He has learned early on that to affect change, you have to put yourself out there and be consistently committed on a daily/weekly basis," the Younts said. "He also clearly understands that even at a young age, he has a voice, and he endeavors to have it heard on little and big stages."
Among his connections to assisting young golfers is First Tee. The organization uses the game of golf as a backdrop to mold youngsters.
"The main focus is to make better people," Steve Lennon said.
Lennon, who is with the San Antonio office of the organization, said their kids might not become professional golfers, but they will become better people. They have a nine-point system to steer the golfers toward that goal.
"With golf comes our nine core values like respect, honesty, integrity, and perseverance," Lennon said.
Just as adults connect on a golf course, so do kids. Riley uses tutoring and regular old conversation that becomes a bridge.
"I just love the connections that I can make with the kids," he said. "I love seeing them smile after hitting a good shot."
Talking about sports and video games are par for the course during Riley's First Tee sessions as a junior golf coach. In such simplicity, he tries to extend little life lessons.
"You hear something from your parents, ok? You hear something from another adult, ok?" Lennon said. "You hear something from another youth golfer – it just crosses that bridge better at times."
Riley walks that bridge but tries not to fall off into deep water. Politics and government may come up, but the teen steers clear of talk that could easily lead to a "fore."
"I just really like talking to them more about golf," he said. "I don't want to get political."
He can speak to children about the mental intensity of competing in two sports. Riley is also an award-winning bodyboarder.
"I've won four national championships in it," he said.
On the simulated waves, he flips and does tricks. He uses that same concentration and dedication for golf.
It's the kind of commitment that could also get used to navigating a successful life.