Elder’s career comes full circle

Austin Elder was on many college coaches’ radar while attending high school. And for good reason.

Elder was a standout golfer from Warren. He attended Warren G. Harding High School until the middle of his junior year when he transferred to Howland. Elder was all but set on heading to Mount Union after high school. He also was gaining interest from Youngstown State.

“He was all set to go to Mount Union University,” Point Park University golf coach Gabe Bubon said. “It was late in the year, and I was just trying to find a few kids. I talked to Joey Allen, Austin’s teaching instructor, and he told me that Austin might be interested.”

After discussions with Bubon, Elder decided to play college golf in Pittsburgh at Point Park University. Bubon, like Elder, was from Warren and knew that a golfer of his caliber could jump start his program in his first season at the helm.

“It was a tough decision because I was all ready to go to Mount Union and coach Bubon talked to me a month before school started,” Elder said. “He wanted me to be a team leader and help build the program at Point Park.”

Elder bought into everything Bubon said to him during the recruiting process. He trusted that the team would start slow for a few years but come on strong by the time he was an upperclassman.

“We started from the very, very bottom,” Bubon said. “We were so bad that first year. Now Austin and I look back on it and laugh all the time because he was here during the lowest of lows and highest of highs.”

Joking aside, Bubon has a lot of respect for the character Elder showed during those tough times early on.

“I give Austin a lot of credit because he believed in me,” Bubon said. “I told him by the time he became a senior that we would be at the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) national tournament.”

Elder remembers Bubon talking to him about the future when he first arrived at Point Park.

“Coach Bubon told me when he recruited me that by the time I was a junior we would be in the hunt to win our conference and by the time I was a senior we would make it to the NAIA national tournament,” Elder said. “It’s crazy because that’s exactly what happened.”

The Pioneers won their conference during Elder’s junior and senior seasons. He and the Pioneers made the NAIA national tournament this season just as Bubon had projected four years prior. Elder posted a 78.6 average over the three-day national tournament May 14-16 in Salem, Ore.

“It was an awesome experience,” Elder said. “When we got out there to Oregon we knew we were playing against the best of the best.”

While playing in the national tournament was an experience Elder will never forget, another tournament also sits atop the list of memories made at Point Park.

During Elder’s junior year, he and his teammates played in the Mount Union Fall Invitational. Elder, who was previously signed to play golf with the Purple Raiders, made his presence felt. Elder shot 73 in round one and 70 in round two to help his team win the invitational over seven other competing schools. Elder also carded the best individual score and took medalist honors.

“That was a big win,” Elder said. “I was signed to go there before I changed my mind and went to Point Park, so that made it extra special.”

Elder played in 14 rounds in the regular season this year during his senior campaign. He posted a low round of 68 and only scored in the 80s twice. He led the team with an 18-hole average of 76.07. He finished with a 75.83 career 18-hole average, not including the national tournament.

“He’s not afraid of the moment and he is really competitive,” Bubon said. “Those are two things I look for when I’m recruiting.”

Elder recently graduated from Point Park with a degree in Business Management. He did an internship in the summer of 2012 at State Farm and was recently offered a job upon graduation.

“To see him graduating now and being named All-Conference, I couldn’t be happier for him,” Bubon said. “He can drive you crazy sometimes, but at the end of the day, he’s got a good heart and he tries to do things the right way.”