Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Taekwondo to Golf: The unusual athletic path of Tim Colanta

Article written by Thomas Hindle.

University of Maryland golf team captain Tim Colanta was seven years old at the time of his first hole in one. He remembers it clearly.

“It was 129 yards, and I had a driver, a little kids driver… It was a terrible shot. I completely skulled it. It maybe went three feet off the ground,” Colanta said. “Suddenly, I heard it hit the flagstick, and my dad was yelling.”

His driving has been more controlled since then. Now in his fourth year and captaining the team, the Reunion, Florida native is primed for a successful year on and off the course.

The first three years of Colanta’s collegiate career were marked with varying degrees of success. His first college tournament, in 2015, he finished 19 over par at the Janney VCU shootout in Virginia. His score improved each time, culminating in a 12th place finish at the Terrapin invitational.

By next semester, he was a mainstay in the lineup, and shot even at the Big Ten Championship as a freshman. Suddenly, there were expectations. In 2016, Colanta was selected for All-Big 10 Preseason honors, a feat he would achieve twice more.

“I think it’s an honor. In some ways I know that I’ve earned it,” he said. “But I know it’s there for a reason.”

Prior to his senior year, Colanta was appointed captain. For someone with a resume complete with all-academic honors, as well as his experience with the program, it was an easy choice for head coach Jason Rodenhaver.

“He’s done a fantastic job with the younger guys, leading by example… He’s done a great job for me, always can count on him,” Rodenhaver said. “He’s been a treat to coach for four years.”

Colanta’s life has expanded beyond golf. In fact, Colanta didn’t think golf would be the sport for him. In a family of taekwondo experts, Colanta wanted in.

“I have 27 cousins… and I’m number 25 out of 27. They were always doing taekwondo and kinda beating me up. I said, ‘Mom, Dad, I wanna do it too,’” Colanta said. “I fell in love with it.”

He did more than learn. Colanta moved up through the ranks, and is a third degree black belt. For a while, it looked like Colanta could take taekwondo further, and he even had the opportunity to compete at the 2012 London Olympics. However, an injury derailed his olympic ambitions.

“Two weeks before I was going to report to the olympic center, I broke my elbow in an exhibition match,” Colanta said. “My mom told me to stick to golf.”

Turns out compromising for golf wasn’t such a bad thing for Colanta. Taekwondo helped him develop an unusual swing, one that attracted college attention from the September 1 recruiting opening his junior year of high school. Among those schools was the University of Maryland.

“They followed me throughout my junior career… one of the first and only schools to reach out to me on September 1,” Colanta said.

Thanks to the belief Maryland showed in him, Colanta looks to repay that faith with an ambitious goal.

“I’m here for a reason – to win a national championship,” he said.

In such an unpredictable sport, it just takes one skulled shot.