For freshman Chandler Roberts, 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 guys 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 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 who I played with most of the time.”
Continuing to use golf as his motivation, Roberts–then 190lbs., 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,” he said. And by the time I left my high school, I had the lowest scoring average of any senior to leave that school.”
That’s where Chandler Roberts’ journey to Hesston begins.
Chris Frans, head golf coach at Hesston College, found Roberts on the NCSA Sports recruitment website.
“It just starts with an email,” Frans 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 Frans.
And played he has. The spring season welcomes 2-5 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 in February, shooting 66, five under par.
And on Mar. 27, Roberts finished second for the Hesston team with scores of 76 and 82 at the Kansas Wesleyan University Invitational to put the Larks in 7th 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,” Frans said. “He pushes himself. He has goals to go bigger and that’s 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 his past sports such as football and baseball, it is an individual sport.
“I know every single shot is my responsibility. 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.”
The Larks will compete again this weekend at the Bethel College (North Newton) Invitational.