In the summer of 2013, then 14-year-old Andrew Walker captured the attention of the golfing world when he became the youngest African-American player – younger than Tiger Woods – to qualify for and play in the U.S. Amateur Championship.
Now, as the summer of 2014 just starts to unfold, Walker has made big news again.
Lakeview High’s Walker has been named Mr. Golf’ by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association, becoming only the second sophomore to earn that distinction since the organization started bestowing the honor in 1997.
The only other local player to win the award was Lakeview’s Matt Thompson, who did so as a senior in 2008. The only other sophomore to win the award was Birmingham Seaholm’s Francesco Ruffino in 2011.
“It feels like a pretty big accomplishment, and it is, and I’m really proud – for myself, my school and the Battle Creek community,” Walker said.
“When I was younger, I dreamed of someday being Mr. Golf because I knew it was the biggest honor you can get for high school golf. And to have now achieved this award, it’s just amazing. I’m very happy. There were a ton of players who are friends of mine from all schools from all around the state who had great seasons this year, I had a pretty good season, too … and I’m just really honored to have been the one to win the award.”
Walker was named both Mr. Golf’ and to the MIGCA’s Super Team (regardless of class) for 2014. As a freshman in 2013, he was a Super Team member as well. Walker also has a 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom for his first two years at Lakeview, but the MIGCA’s academic all-state team is for seniors only.
The only other local player to be named all-state this season by the MIGCA was Olivet High senior Keagan Carpenter, who was selected to the Division 3 first team.
As a freshman at Lakeview, Walker helped coach Tony Evans’ Spartans win the MHSAA Division 1 state championship. He had a team-best scoring average of 72.6, but did not earn a top-10-and-ties MHSAA individual all-state medal.
This past season, Walker led Lakeview to All-City, SMAC Big 16 and district titles, and also to a berth in the Division 1 state finals where the Spartans placed eighth.
For the 2014 prep campaign, Walker again had a scoring average of 72.6; he was individual medalist or co-medalist in seven meets and invitationals; he was a district champion for the second straight year; he earned a top-10 individual medal at the MHSAA finals by finishing in a tie for ninth (just two shots back of being in a playoff for overall medalist honors). Walker also had an overall season record of 940 wins, 40 losses and 19 ties for a 95-percent winning percentage (when counting how Walker fared against all golfers in all meets this past season, including members of his own Lakeview team).
Evans, a former boys’ and girls’ MIGCA coach of the year, explained that the criteria the MIGCA takes into account in naming a Mr. Golf’ is tri-fold. Taken into consideration is a player’s scoring average for the regular season; the course ratings (easy to difficult in specific numbers) for the courses the player competed on; and how the player did in MHSAA district, regional and state finals play.
“Andrew is just a special kid and a great young golfer – considering all the golf he plays for us, and all the golf he plays outside the area and around the country,” Evans said. “We’re obviously very proud of him, the community’s very proud of him … and it’s great to know that we’ve still got him here at Lakeview for two more years.”
Walker’s dad, Filmore Walker III, who has carted Andrew around the U.S. with golf bag in tow since he was a tyke, also expressed his excitement and pride for his son’s Mr. Golf’ honor.
“We’re very proud as a family for what Andrew has now accomplished as being named Mr. Golf. He’s done it because he’s very talented and he works hard on his golf and has for a long time,” Filmore Walker said.
“We’re excited for him, it’s a great honor for him and Lakeview High and the city … and we’re just as proud of how he is doing academically, too. We’ve stressed academics to all our kids all through the years, and someday we’re hoping he’s going to be all-state academically as well.”