CHANDLER MCLAUGHLIN – GOLF
Over the last several years we have used and heard of the fad word – grind. To grind is to perform repetitive actions over and over in order to attain a goal. For Junior Golfer Chandler McLaughlin “the grind” is a common occurrence, and one that is a continuous effort.
Head Coach Justin Craft, “Chandler is absolutely meticulous both on and off the course. He’s constantly reflecting on what’s working and what isn’t. Once he gets his mind on something, he’s obsessed with getting better. He’s an absolute joy to be around. I respect the way he analyzes his way through a round and grinds when things aren’t going his way.”
McLaughlin says, “I’m a very active person, I’m also a very dedicated person especially when it comes to golf, I put a lot of time trying to improve my game.”
McLaughlin has played varsity golf since the 8th grade. His best performances on the golf course has come on region tournament day during his freshman and sophomore seasons. He is projected to be one of the region’s best golfers and will most likely have an opportunity to win an individual championship, along with back to back region championships.
“I think the difference is that in those two seasons, he wasn’t necessarily expected to contend for an individual region title,” says Craft. “When I look at him, I see one of the region’s best golfers. I’m not sure the rest of the region views him in that light yet. I think he kind of flies under the radar. Our region has several great young golfers.”
Craft continues, “Allan Lockwood (Central Hardin) is defending his region medalist honors this year as a sophomore. Central Hardin’s squad can go low at any time. Meade County has a young team with some sneaky scoring ability there, as well. Spencer County may have the golfer with the most firepower and ability to go low in Jonathan McCormick. We’re going to have a bullseye on us as defending team champs from a year ago, but I still think as an individual, Chandler is one among many kids that can vie for an individual title. I like him flying under the radar. He’s an absolute gamer when all the chips are in the middle of the table.”
McLaughlin credits his dad and brother for getting him involved in the game of golf. “My dad used to play golf all the time so when I went to his house I always hit golf balls in the yard when I got bored, and from then I always thought it was fun so I continued. Then the first day of middle school I saw JT (Holcomb) with a LC golf polo on and I asked him for the coach’s number and then within a week I was out of the course practicing with the JV squad. I enjoyed playing with my brother (Hunter) because we would compete against each other to get better and better.”
For any young golfer there is always that challenge to stay strong mentally. Craft admits, “Like a lot of kids, Chandler has battled getting down on himself when things aren’t quite going as planned. Somewhere along the way, he’s found this ability to continue to grind his way through tough situations. He might be the most mentally-tough kid I’ve ever coached. If he can continue that growth, he has a chance to have some special moments on the golf course before he graduates.”
McLaughlin hopes to get off to a solid start this season. Craft continues by saying, “Chandler will even tell you that he got off to a brutal start to the season a year ago. He just started to kind of find his game at the end of his freshman year, and then hit some speed bumps as he was making some swing changes. When I think back to watching him play in his first tournament at Heritage Hills as a freshman to the Chandler I see now, it’s night and day. He’s strong off the tee, and his ball striking ability with his irons is wonderful to watch. If he’s keeping the ball in good position off the tee, he’s going to give himself plenty of opportunities to score. His short game also keeps him in holes when he’s struggling. If he can get it around the green, he has a better than 50% chance of getting the ball up and down.”
McLaughlin says he has certainly put the time in to improve his game. “This summer I have played in tournaments along with spend many hours out on the course. I was out on the course for five to six hours a day almost every day of the week and played at a lot of new courses to help improve my game.”
The big goal though is to repeat as region champion, and advance to day two of the state tournament. McLaughlin says, “The big individual and team goal for the year is to qualify for the state tournament by winning region again, and making it to play the second day.”