Western Amateur

Amateur Hour 5: RJ Manke’s Husky Howl

The top amateur unleashes his full potential in his homecoming

By Jordan Perez

For some, coming home means catching up on years of missed moments. For RJ Manke, it means just that—and well, having the best semester of your college golf career.

It’s been a transfer tale like no other. For his final year of eligibility, Manke returned to his home state of Washington to join the Washington Huskies, an athletic program that meant more than a regional allegiance. The Lakewood native’s parents met at the university and his siblings are alumni as well. The former Pepperdine Wave felt more than ready to write his own chapter.

“Down at Pepperdine, I always slept with a UW blanket,” Manke says. “To be wearing the W, walking around campus and around the golf course, it feels right.”

Before moving to Seattle, Manke won his state amateur for the second time in his career and earned two top 10s on the amateur circuit. But those were only hors d’oeuvres: Once the semester kicked in, he racked up two individual wins, three top-five finishes, and a scoring average of 67.4, the best golf of his entire amateur career. 

“It’s just been staying comfortable,” Manke says. “I got to put the work in the past, and I’m just enjoying it now.”

Plenty to enjoy being the No. 1-ranked amateur golfer via Golfstat.

In his podcast debut, RJ Manke talks more about the makings of his incredible 2021 success, what the homecoming meant to him, his favorite things about Seattle (and why it’s not coffee), falling asleep at an Eagles concert and some indie rock recommendations. 

—Jordan Perez

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