Golfer Santiago De La Fuente set for big year in Big 12
As one of the most successful programs in the nation with 16 national champions and eight individual national titles, the UH men’s golf program has produced some incredible college golfers.
After a successful Division I debut season, one player has risen through the ranks and has quickly made a name for himself.
Senior Santiago De La Fuente has taken a unique route to stardom at UH, and it all started when he was just a toddler.
Born and raised in Ocotlan, Mexico, De La Fuente started to play after his father and brother introduced him to the sport at just three years old.
“My dad and brother would go to play every day,” De La Fuente said. “I just wanted to hang out with them.”
After that, De La Fuente launched into the world of golf and didn’t stop.
“It was just me, nobody pushed or forced me to play,” He said. “Just wanting to be around my family.”
Later on, De La Fuente realized that golf wasn’t just a hobby and knew he could play at a competitive level.
“When I was twelve years old, I knew some guys from the golf course that were going to play college golf,” De La Fuente said. “I saw the opportunity to go to college and play golf.”
That opportunity became a reality when he started playing for Arkansas Tech, while there he helped lead the team to two NCAA Division II National Championships. After the win, his coach knew that there was more to De La Fuente’s story.
“My coach kind of opened my eyes,” De La Fuente said. “He made me realize that I should go to a Division I school and compete for national championships.”
While in the transfer portal De La Fuente hit a slump and began worrying that he wouldn’t get picked up by a DI school.
“Right when I entered the portal, I started playing really bad,” De La Fuente said. “I was kind of scared that I wasn’t gonna go anywhere.”
That quickly changed after transferring to Houston, where De La Fuente started to shine and make a name for himself under head coach Jonathan Dismuke.
In his first season, senior Santiago De La Fuente became the first Cougar to earn All-American honors since 2016, leading UH to an American Athletic Conference title while grabbing the individual title as well. His average score of 70.71 ranked second all-time in school history.
Although Dismuke did not see De La Fuente play when he was younger, De La Fuente’s reputation at Arkansas Tech preceded him, so his success was no surprise.
“He played golf at Arkansas Tech and had a division two school that had a good track record,” Dismuke said. “I felt like he was the right type of guy for our program … he’s really blossomed into our program.”
Dismuke noted De La Fuente’s growth in his demeanor and willingness to always compete as something that will continue to help him in this Big 12 season.
“Santiago has done a terrific job of learning how to be a terrific competitor week in and week out,” Dismuke said.