Fayetteville High sophomore golfer Luke Long goes into the State Overall Golf Championship feeling much the same way about his chances of winning as he did last week before play in the Class 7A Boys Golf Tournament. He’s confident, but not cocky.
Play in the single-day event commences Thursday at the Pleasant Valley Country Club at Little Rock where the medalists and runners-up from all the class championships square off to name an overall champion.
“I knew I had a chance of shooting two low scores last week, but I thought there would be a lot of other low scores, too” Long said. “I feel the same this week. I think I have good chance of winning. I’m hitting it well of the tee and putting well. But it comes down to how everyone plays that day.”
Long led Fayetteville’s five-man crew —Mason Adams, Luke Renner, Thatcher Radler, Matthew Cole — last week in capturing the state tournament title. Long shot an even par 72-72—144 to nab medalist honors.
Long said it felt great sharing the state title with his teammates and that medalist honors would not have been as meaningful if the team had not captured the state title.
“It was great to win as a team,” Long said. “We all did our part.”
Fayetteville golf coach Scott Williams said Long’s low-key approach works well for the young man when he is competing, but that the sophomore is also very skilled.
“You don’t see too many sophomore boys jump up there and win the state tournament,” Williams said. “Sometimes it happens with the girls, but there is so much competition and experience in a tournament on that level that you seldom see a sophomore boy win.”
While Long’s victory was an accomplishment, Williams said he wasn’t necessarily surprised.
“When he competed so well in the state tournament last year as a freshman, I knew he had the potential,” Williams said. “He’s a talented young man. He has incredible eye-hand coordination, maybe the best that I’ve been around for a young man his age. But it really is about his demeanor. He never gets too high or too low.”
Long became interested in golf when he was 5 years old after his activities were restricted following a head injury.
“I really couldn’t do anything physical, but I did pick up a golf club and from there I started playing putt-putt,” Long said.
Long’s interest in golf continued to grow after his father, John, introduced him to the sport.
“I naturally took to the sport and liked it,” Long said. “But I’ve put a lot of work into it to improve.”
Long said he’s best at keeping the ball in the fairway with good distance.
“I try to set myself up for birdies by having a good second shot at the green,” Long said of his personal strategy.
While college is two years away, Long said he would like to continue to play on the collegiate level.
“It’s something I think about and would like to do, but I’m just going to play it by ear. It really depends on which schools make scholarship offers,” Long said.