Doc Redman isn’t one to do things the easy way.
Consider his 2017 run to the U.S. Amateur title. Redman, who had just completed his freshman year at Clemson, had to survive a 13-man playoff just to get into the match play portion of the championship.
Then, when he reached the scheduled 36-hole finale, Redman found himself facing defeat head-on, falling 2 down with two holes to go. But he went eagle-birdie to take Texas senior Doug Ghim into sudden death where Redman birdied the first extra hole for the victory.
So, should we be surprised that Redman majored in actuarial mathematics at Clemson? Not exactly one of the easier curriculums offered there but he learned to love numbers and the many calculations that can be done while a student at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Once I got to college, I decided I wanted to do something a little different,” Redman said. “A lot of people go into business, especially in golf, business or finance. So, I decided I want to do some different and keep going with math.
“At Clemson, there's math and then there's a few, I guess, focus areas. And that was one -- financial math and actuarial science. I only stayed two years, so I didn't get like crazy into it, but it was a lot of fun and it got really tough, but it was cool kind of diving deeper and doing something a little more focused than most people.”
Actuarial science analyzes risk assessment using mathematics, statistics and financial theory. Actuaries are found in the life, liability and health insurance industries, as well as in pension management and social welfare programs.
“For life insurance, per se, it would be (figuring) what's someone's chance of dying in the next, whatever, 10 years,” Redman says. “Like, it's kind of sad ... but yeah, it's trying to figure out I guess pricing out insurance plans and things like that.
“And I'm sure that's, that's the most common thing but I think a lot of people don't really realize, but math and just risk assessment's kind of everywhere. So, I think there's no shortage of jobs in if you know how to do math.”Coach Larry Penley and Cynthia Young in 2017 with Doc Redman, who received the Outstanding Freshman Award from the College of Science’s department of mathematical sciences. (Courtesy of Clemson University)
Granted, Redman’s friends at Clemson – the ones who probably only used math to figure out if they had enough money in the budget for pizza and beers that weekend -- were often “totally surprised” by his choice of majors. “What the heck are you doing?” he remembers some saying.
But Redman did well – in fact, he had all As and only one B as a freshman. His record was so impressive that he received the Outstanding Freshman Award from the College of Science’s department of mathematical sciences.
Clemson’s golf coach, Larry Penley, and Cynthia Young, the dean of the College of Science, made the presentation to Redman for “shooting low and aiming high,” she noted, during one of his math classes.
Penley, who is retiring this year after 39 years at the helm, brought the U.S. Amateur trophy and showed some of Redman’s highlights. He pointed out the sophomore’s name along with Tiger Woods, who won it three times and four-time champ Bobby Jones.
“It was nice to have Coach there and I didn't necessarily want to go up and accept it in front of everyone, but it was fun,” Redman says. “I was, like, what the heck's going on? Why is he here? He definitely didn't want to be in any sort of math class. So, I knew something was up.”
Redman didn’t have any such warning when his phone rang the night before the U.S. Amateur championship match, though. On the other end was Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney.
“I didn't have his number at the time, so I just happened to pick up and it was him, which was really cool,” Redman says. “And then he called me again after and we talked a little bit.
“He just loves seeing Clemson athletes do well. And he's such an inspirational guy. He's the same as he is off cameras he is on. And it was really good to have a call from him.”
Redman had met Swinney, who is an avid golfer, several times. In fact, while Redman has yet to play 18 holes with the Clemson football coach, the two had filmed a segment for Swinney’s TV show at the putt-putt course at the football team’s practice facility.
So, what was Swinney’s pep talk on the eve of the title match?
“He just said that was right after they beat Alabama on the final play,” Redman says, remembering the 2016 title game, Clemson’s second of three national championships.
“So, he said just kind of take it a hole at the time and do your best and the Clemson family's proud no matter what. So yeah. It was really cool.”