A Watseka golfer made it to the state finals this past season.
Lukas Ball, a senior at Watseka High School, earned himself a spot at the IHSA State Finals in Bloomington on Oct. 18.
The tournament was split into two days, with Ball teeing off on day one. He managed to place 45 out of 112 on the day but due to rules and regulations was unable to advance after missing the cut by just one stroke.
“My experience at state was great,” said Ball.
“It was a goal I’ve had since freshman year and to do it my senior year was awesome. Unfortunately I missed the cut by one stroke which was kind of a bummer. But it was still a great experience. Not many kids can say they have made it to state.”
Ball’s head coach, Darin Hartman, said Ball has always showed a true passion for the sport.
“I’ve coached tons of kids and I can honestly tell you, his work ethic is second to none. He absolutely breathes and eats and dreams about that game 24/7. He just loves golf,” said Hartman.
“Coming in as a freshman, he was able to play alongside some pretty nice players. So, he had the opportunity to be a part of those teams but, we didn’t necessarily need to count on his score right away. There wasn’t a lot of pressure on him early on in his four years and I think that really helped him. I think it showed him what it takes to get to that next level and I think that is why he is as good as he is.”
One thing drawing ball to the game is the self-reliant aspect of the sport. He enjoys being able to count on himself as well as the challenge.
“Golf is unlike any other sport. It’s just me, the ball and the course. It’s up to me to make the shot and no one else. Playing golf for all four years, you get to know your opponents and they become your friends and I just love the game,” said Ball.
The game of golf is something that has been involved in his life from an early age.
“I grew up in a golf family,” he said.
“My grandpa was an avid golfer and I would play with him when I was little. My dad also loves the game and I play with him all of the time at our local course.”
Hartman saw his tenacity and lack for the game early on in Lukas’ career and his drive to always better himself as a player is something that was apparent.
“The thing with Lukas is he will step up and he will out hit just about every group he’s playing in. It’s just incredible how far that kid can hit a golf ball and it’s all because of mechanics,” he said. “He’s really worked on his mechanics and been on the range non stop the last four years and it shows.
Now that Ball’s high school career is at an end, he expressed his gratitude for all of those that helped him get to where he is now.
“I can’t thank coach Hartman enough for putting up with me and for all of the support for the last four years,” said Ball.
“I also want to thank coach (Chad) Cluver for the help he game me when coach Hartman wasn’t available and my dad for introducing me to the game of golf and always being there for me and letting me continue to play with him as I get older. And to my mom, thanks for always taking me to tournaments and coming to matches.”
After all he’s learned, Ball feels it’s time to give some advice of his own to those players that are up and coming.
“Practice as often as you can,” he said. “Most of my summer days were spent on the golf course. The improvement that I made from my freshman to senior year was due to all of the practicing that I did. I’d also say to play smart. You don’t always have to just grip it and rip it.”