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Prose and Kohn

Sarasota golfer makes his own path

Roman Solomon, the son of MLB star Bobby Bonilla, committed to the University of South Florida on May 8.

Sarasota's Roman Solomon committed to the University of South Florida for golf on May 2.
Sarasota's Roman Solomon committed to the University of South Florida for golf on May 2.
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Roman Solomon's 18th trip around the sun got started with a bang. 

At a team golf event played with friends March 2 at Sarasota's Suncoast Golf Center, Solomon got things underway. He used a 9-iron on the 130-yard hole, using a bit of a punch shot to keep the ball from sailing past the green. He watched as it landed, took a bounce, and found its way into the cup. 

The whole thing was captured on camera. You can hear Solomon's friends and family let out an "Oh" when the ball bounced, then a loud "aah" when the ball found the cup. Solomon sprinted down the fairway, his entourage in tow. 

"The greens there, they are more like turf than grass," Solomon said. "The ball will bounce anywhere. So when that happened, I mean, I'll never do that again." 

Not a bad birthday present. The good times have kept rolling for Solomon, too. On May 2, Solomon, who attends IMG Academy, committed to the University of South Florida. Even though he talked to schools in Texas and Virginia, among other places, he wanted to stay home. 

That decision was partly made to be close to family. Solomon is the son of Bobby Bonilla — yes, the former baseball star — and Christina Solomon-Bonilla, and is close with them. It was Solomon-Bonilla who filmed Solomon's birthday hole-in-one and sprinted after the group of young golfers to capture their reactions as best she could. And it was Bonilla who inspired and encouraged Solomon's tireless work ethic, though Solomon swings a club instead of a bat. 

That leads to the other reason Solomon chose to stay home with the Bulls. He's familiar with the weather. 

He knows that it's possible to play golf year-round here, whereas athletes at schools farther north will likely have to take the winter off. Solomon wants to be on the course every day. 

In other words, he loves golf too much to live anywhere else. 

"I just want to keep getting better," Solomon said.

Sarasota's Roman Solomon is the son of former MLB star Bobby Bonilla. Solomon attends IMG Academy and is a top junior golfer.
Courtesy image

His time at IMG Academy plays into that. Solomon said he practices with his teammates from 9-11 a.m. each day. He throws in a lifting session three days a week at 7:30 a.m. to keep his strength up. And after an afternoon filled with classes, Solomon and his friends will sometimes partake in a chipping game, just for fun. There's nothing else he would rather be doing, Solomon said. 

He's done a lot of improving in recent years. Solomon has become a staple on the Underrated Golf Tour, a tour founded by NBA superstar (and golf fan) Stephen Curry that has a "commitment to provide equity, access, and opportunity to student-athletes from every community." 

The tour has provided Solomon not only with a great golf challenge, going against some of the top young golfers in the country, but with a great mental challenge. 

Golfers on the Underrated Tour get more attention than most junior golfers do; the Tour's Instagram account has 31,700 followers, and its golfers are often featured in the content. Playing on it, Solomon said, has forced him to block out everything that isn't golf while on the course, no matter how many cameras are on him. 

Sarasota's Roman Solomon said playing on the Underrated Tour has helped him mentally as much as it has with physical golf skills.
Courtesy image

That, in turn, helped in Solomon's recruitment, he said. While other golfers may worry about which college coaches were watching, Solomon played relaxed. 

Well, as relaxed as a golfer can be. 

"I've been playing golf since I was 6 years old," Solomon said. "I've had six years of playing tournaments. The whole time, it has been an emotional roller coaster. Everyone feels it. So having a cool head throughout a tournament is an advantage. The guys on (the PGA) Tour, you can't tell if they are upset. You can't tell if they are 10 under or 10 over. It helps you." 

Another help: A killer mindset. 

When asked which events he was looking forward to playing this year, Solomon listed two: The Scott Robinson Memorial Tournament, which will be played May 17-19 at Roanoke Country Club in Roanoke, Virginia, and the Southern Junior Championship, held June 12-14 at Seminole Legacy Golf Club in Tallahassee. In both tournaments, Solomon missed the cut in 2023. 

He's out to prove something at them in 2024. 

"I want to beat the crap out of those courses," Solomon said. "I want to go compete. I want to get revenge." 

Solomon has ambitions of playing professional golf someday. In doing so, he'll undoubtedly make a name for himself. Though Solomon said he doesn't mind when people refer to him as "Bobby Bonilla's kid" or ask him about his famous father, Solomon is a talented enough golfer for people to recognize him on his own merits. 

If he keeps fulfilling his potential, the golf community will know his name, sooner rather than later. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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