Bahamian Robinson Brought Own ‘Magic’ to Mid-Am
October 11, 2017 | Atlanta, Ga.
By Stuart Hall
Devaughn Robinson has never been one to dream small.
As an 11-year-old, Robinson stood on a driving range in Nassau, the Bahamas, and watched his father, Walter, hit high, arching 7-iron shots into the sky.
“It was like a magic show,” he said, “because I would lose the shots in the clouds.”
Robinson was so mesmerized by the repetitious act that he walked away thinking he wanted to pursue golf in the hopes of one day playing on the PGA Tour.
“I always embrace the most difficult tasks, and it doesn’t get much more difficult than golf, right?” he asked rhetorically.
A keystone in Robinson’s golf aspirations is this week’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course. With a 2-and-1 victory over Ryan Sloane in Wednesday morning’s Round of 32, Robinson continued to impress in his second USGA Championship appearance. Robinson’s run ended with a hard-fought, 1-down defeat to medalist Bradford Tilley in the Round of 16.
His previous USGA experience was a missed the cut in the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links at Sand Creek Station in Newton, Kan.
“Steady,” said Robinson, 29, of this week’s play, which comes on the heels of a playoff victory in the Greater Houston City Amateur Championship. “I haven't done anything too extravagant besides the second stroke-play round when I birdied five of six before the turn to kind of get me started and in a good position to get into match play.
“If you would ask my friends, the guys I play with most back in Houston, they would say yes [this is the status quo]. Typically, a lot of pars and not a lot of blemishes.”
Wanting to play on the PGA Tour and getting there, as Robinson discovered growing up in Nassau, has presented unique challenges.
“Access to courses,” he said of the primary obstacle. “I'm not going to say there wasn't any access, but it was very limited. I could chip and putt as much as I wanted. I had a good friend, Ricardo Davis, who I shared rides with every summer from home to the golf course. I credit a lot of my early development to him and his mother.”
Upon graduating high school, Robinson began working at the local Cable Beach Golf Course. When he had the opportunity to play, the scores hovered around par and were reflective of his hard work.
“One day I went out and something clicked, and I shot 63,” he said. “Haven't shot it since, but I think at that moment, I knew maybe I could take it a little further.”
But where? No college knew of his talent.
“For juniors playing golf in the Bahamas, there is typically not a lot to look forward to afterward, because we have hardly any junior tournaments and only the wealthy get to go stateside and play,” said Robinson, who has played in all three Latin America Amateur Championships and was the 2016 Bahamas National Amateur champion.
Robinson’s close friend, Georgette Rolle, as well as Cable Beach’s club professional at the time both played college golf at Texas Southern University in Houston. Each offered to help Robinson’s cause, and a month or two later he was enrolled as a student. He walked on to the golf team the next semester.
While studying in Houston, Robinson leaned into another of his talents – art.
“I like to sketch and draw. I love it,” he said. “I always wanted to be an architect growing up, aside from golf. When I got to TSU, architecture wasn't offered, so I picked the closest thing, which was design technology.”
Robinson, a product compliance manager for Valco Instruments Co., has been able to meld his love for the two passions.
“I find that when I'm more patient with an art piece, with a drawing or sketch or painting, usually it produces better work,” he said. “It's kind of like picking your way around a golf course. The more patient you are, the less you try to force, typically the better you are. You can't have made birdie, birdie and start thinking, ‘I'm going to go shoot 65.’ You’ve just got to pick the course apart and take your time and pick your spots.”
That is exactly what Robinson has done to this point in the championship. In stroke play, Robinson posted eight birdies, eight bogeys and a double bogey. He then needed 19 holes to dispatch of Jon Lindstrom, of Broomfield, Calif., in the Round of 64, before defeating Sloane. In his first match, he was 3 down with five to play.
Regardless of this week’s outcome – though preferably with a title in hand – Robinson believes he has bolstered his long-term prospects of possibly playing professionally.
“I would hope so,” he said. “I always want to continue improving. And I’m feeling pretty close.”
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.