For freshman Chandler Roberts (Kyle, Texas), nights before a golf tournament used to consist of cleaning clubs and marking balls while studying the golf course on Google Maps.
But those days of superstitious rituals have come to pass.
Now Roberts just plays.
A member of the new golf team at Hesston College, Roberts is one of four players teeing off for the spring season.
But Roberts was no child prodigy.
After dabbling in baseball and football in middle school, it was not until his sophomore year of high school that Roberts went with his dad to Top Golf in Austin, Texas. And a week later, Roberts asked his grandfather for lessons.
Top Golf kick-started his golf career, but also strengthened family relationships.
“Without golf, I wouldn’t be as close as I am to my grandfather,” Roberts said. “He was someone I played with most of the time.”
Continuing to use golf as his motivation, Roberts – then weighing 190 pounds, got back into shape and headed towards success – though it may not have seemed so positive at the start.
“I was the worst player on the junior varsity at my high school my sophomore year,” Roberts said. “And by the time I left high school, I had the lowest scoring average of any senior to leave that school.”
That’s where Roberts’ journey to Hesston begins.
Chris Franz, head golf coach for the Larks, found Roberts on the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) website.
“It just starts with an email,” Franz said.
Roberts had a Division II offer, but he wanted to be a Lark.
“He chose to come here because he knew he would get to play,” said Franz.
And played he has. The spring season welcomes 2 to 5 p.m. practices that include chipping, putting and usually around nine holes of play. After dinner, it’s back to the weight room for a workout.
But all the hard work appears to be paying off for Roberts. He won the Hesston Tournament against Central Christian College in February, shooting 66, five under par.
And on March 27, Roberts finished second for the Larks with scores of 76 and 82 at the Kansas Wesleyan University Invitational (Salina) to put the Larks in seventh place at the end of the tournament.
Roberts’ scores are not the only thing he has going for him. His coach praises his determination as well.
“I don’t have to push him,” Franz said. “He pushes himself. He has goals to go bigger and those are the kind of golfers you want. If I had a captain as a freshman, he would be it.”
Roberts’ favorite part about golf is that, unlike sports such as football and baseball, it is an individual sport.
“I know every single shot is my responsibility,” he said. “I have to take responsibility for all the things that go well or go badly.”
As for his former superstitious rituals?
After shooting his best score the day the rituals got “messed up” Roberts saw the light.
“I just need to show up and play golf.”