Armen Kirakossian came to the International Junior Golf Academy in 2005 for his senior year of high school. After graduating from IJGA, he attended the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA), where he became one of the best golfers in the school’s history. His junior year, Kirakossian won the Great West Conference’s individual title and earned all-conference first team honors. He was also a Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-American Scholar.
As a senior, he earned All-America Sky Conference first team honors and shot a program-record 204 (67-66-71) to win the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championships.
Kirakossian graduated from UTPA with a degree in Business Administration in 2010 before turning pro. He competed on the Golden State Tour, PGA Tour Latinoameria, PGA Tour China and PGA Mexico Tour before returning to UTPA as the Head Men’s Golf Coach. After one season back at UTPA, he joined Pepperdine men’s golf as an assistant coach in July.
We caught up with Kirakossian to learn about his life post-IJGA. Read the interview below.
What are some of the highlights of your first season as Pepperdine’s Assistant Coach so far?
The best part of the fall season was being able to travel with the team and getting to know the guys on a more personal level. We started out slow at our first event and then the team really turned it on and starting playing well. As a team being able to travel to Hawaii was a great experience and it was awesome to share that with the team.
What advice do you have for our students who want to play college golf?
My advice would be to make sure you find the right fit in a college and golf program for you. This is the best way to bring out your full potential as a player and person. Every school and program has different things to offer.
How do you feel attending IJGA prepared you for college golf?
IJGA taught me how to practice properly–to be able to utilize my time in planned and focused practice.
You competed professionally both domestically and abroad. Any amusing stories from your time as a pro you’d like to share?
IJGA was a great help in preparing me to travel abroad. Most countries I traveled to I met up with former IJGA students and I was able to understand the culture of each new place better after having lived with so many international students for a year.
Any tips for adjusting to the language and cultural differences abroad?
Be prepared not to be a picky eater. Especially if you plan on playing in Asia.
What advice do you have for athletes transitioning from high school or college golf to playing professionally?
In high school and college make sure you are competing at the highest levels you can to prepare yourself once turning pro.That goes from high school to college as well. Players at the next level are always better so in order to give yourself the best chance you need to play against the best competition you can at the level you’re at.
How did you become interested in coaching?
I was playing professionally and was asked to be a volunteer assistant [at my alma mater] for a semester to help out with the guys and liked it. A year later I was offered the Head Coach position at that school then a year after that had the opportunity to become the assistant at Pepperdine. Pepperdine has a great history of having good teams so it was a great opportunity for me to get to a much more competitive environment.
What traits do you personally appreciate the most in your athletes?
They don’t play with fear and are not afraid to go low. They understand that in order to win and compete at a high level they have to take it low.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Richard (Dick) Wedzik was my coach while I was at IJGA. God gave me one last chance to visit and spend time with him while I was recruiting at the US Junior Am this summer. I’m so thankful for that. Dick was a coach that did it the right way. He was more concerned about the numbers you shot than the way your swing looked. I am forever grateful to have had such a great influential man and coach in my life.