For Andrew Walker, the third time definitely would be the charm.
The Battle Creek Lakeview senior and defending Division 1 individual state champion could become Michigan’s first three-time winner of Mr. Golf. The honor is awarded annually by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association and based on season-long performance.
“Being able to win the Mr. Golf Award the last two years has been an extremely big honor, and I’m very thankful to have received it,” Walker said. “To have the opportunity to win it a third time, to me that is a very big thing and that is my main goal for this year, individually. That is something that hasn’t been done before in Michigan, so if I have the chance to accomplish something that’s never been done before, that’s a huge thing for me.”
Three others have won Mr. Golf twice: Joey Garber of Petoskey (2009-10), Brendan Gielow of Muskegon Mona Shores (2004-05) and Colby Beckstrom of North Muskegon (2000-01).
At Lakeview, Walker is a Spartan — and will stay a Spartan after signing a letter of intent to play at Michigan State. He said the deciding factor for him was the family atmosphere coach Casey Lubahn and assistant Dan Ellis have built in East Lansing. Walker added that it’s good for “family” to compete against each other and with each other.
“There’s no better place for me to go than Michigan State, because of how I’m going to feel when I’m there and how I’m going to be treated,” Walker said. “Plus the vision Coach has for the program and how I fit into that vision and how we’re going to transform the program for years to come is something I really wanted to be a part of.”
Walker made national headlines in 2013 when he became the youngest African American to qualify for the U.S. Amateur at 14 years and 9 months. He’s among the six youngest of all time, just behind Bobby Jones 100 years ago.
“I was extremely happy and very nervous; age 14 at the time, to play in a tournament that’s dominated by top amateurs and college players,” Walker said. “It was enlightening for me. It showed me that, wow, what I had done was pretty good, but the level that I needed to step up my game was so much higher. It was a great experience that showed me where I need to go.”
Lubahn says Walker can go higher and won’t rest on the laurels of what young phenoms sometimes experience.
“Andrew searches harder today for better, and looks for ways to do things more efficiently than he ever has,” Lubahn said while en route to the Big Ten championships last weekend. “He continues to change his goals and continues to change what drives him, yet sticks to his roots of being humble and grounded, and just a great young man.
“Andrew’s a winner, there’s just no other way to describe him. He’s a fighter. He finds a way to get it done even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. He loves to compete, but he’s humble. All of those things add up to a young man who exceeds expectations at every turn.
“He just finds a way to get it done, and I think that speaks to the power of his mental toughness. He’s a kid that continues to impress, and he’s a brilliant student. He’s got it all.”