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Living on the 15th Hole

Living on the 15th Hole


by Merrie Sue Holtan
Photography by Thru Him Photography

Adam Young, 17, was born with a silver stick in his hands. Well, actually at about age three, he took hold of a golf club and starting hitting balls. It was only natural since his family owns Balmoral Golf Course near Battle Lake.

“It’s my backyard,” says Adam, a member of Otter Tail Central boys golf team, “I can practice on the course basically anytime I want.”

This over and over practice has resulted in some impressive numbers. He participated in the state tournament in 2014 as a ninth grader, and as a sophomore in 2015, he earned 22nd place. In 2016 Quad City conference play he won four first place honors, one second place, and was the conference MVP. He’s chasing another state tournament appearance to round out his junior year.

“Adam is a talented golfer and has the potential to become our most decorated boys golfer ever,” says Otter Tail Central coach, Mike Hepola. “He has grown up around the game, and his love of the game is the biggest reason he’s improved so much in the past few years.”

Adam has also produced some impressive stats in the classroom. He has a 3.96 GPA. It’s his attention to detail and focus which helps Adam solve complex problems in the classroom, as well as analyze his golf swing in depth.

It’s only natural
Adam and his brother, Drew, 15, also a member of the golf team, come by this love of golf naturally. Their dad, John, a member of the PGA of America, earned a Minnesota State High School golf championship in 1985 while he was a student at Chaska High School. He continued to play and teach golf as a pro in the Twin Cities until the opportunity came up fifteen years ago to purchase Balmoral.

Mom, Karen, a Battle Lake native grew up in a baseball family. The Battle Lake baseball field is named for her father, Dick Buntje. Now she enjoys golfing with her family. Being outside together on the golf course is a great activity.

Both John and Karen took a “gingerly” parenting approach towards the boys and golf.

“Because our lives revolve around the course, we didn’t ever want to push golf on the boys. We never wanted them to hate our workplace or the game,” Karen says. “They have become such good helpers for us working in and around the clubhouse.”

“The kids have to develop their own love of golf,” John says. “You can’t push them. Golf and the course have become a lifestyle for them. I’ve seen Adam many nights chipping onto the green as the sun goes down or taking putt after putt on the practice green without my encouragement.“

John has taught the boys to have an eye for making golf simple. It can be so technical, he says, but the trick is to simplify. He uses videotaping and makes short comments for improvement.

“It’s such a mental game,” John says, “Much more than physical. I don’t over coach. Golf is a game best learned through individual experiences and instruction when needed.”

Adam’s techniques
Adam entered his first tournaments when he was about eight years old in a junior PGA league playing local courses. By seventh grade he had lettered in varsity golf.

“I remember being stubborn as a kid,” Adam says. “If I didn’t play well, I would get mad and it ruined the game for me. I wouldn’t let my dad coach me.”

He remembers the state tournament where he took 38 putts the second day and he had to deal with the situation mentally.

“Keep it simple, I told myself. Don’t think too complex,” Adam says. “Just keep going and push through. The mental part of my golf has improved the most.”

Adam loves the feel of a well hit drive and to see the ball fly. Chipping is also fun. “I love sticking it close enough to birdie,” he says. “My dad is my swing coach and Coach Hepola really helps me mentally.”

Carnegie Hall and Boston
Life is not just about 18-holes for Adam. This past school year, as a tenor and member of the Battle Lake choir and select show choir, he traveled to Carnegie Hall to perform with students from all over the United States.

“We go to a festival in New York City every four years,” Adam says. “Last time we earned a 97 score and were invited to participate in the mass choir. We had a world-class conductor and it was really cool.”

By placing in the state competition, Adam also earned a spot on the Business Professionals of America national competition in Boston.

“Adam is a good kid, smart and solid” says his mom, Karen. “He is a dedicated student, and it was a great opportunity for him to go to the east coast. Battle Lake High School is second to none in enriching the students academically and socially. “

“I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to coach Adam over the years,” says Coach Hepola. “He is very coachable and his passion for the game of golf is contagious, especially with the younger kids. He will continue to accomplish great things because of his work ethic and desire.”

Adam’s tips

Driving: If you are hitting poorly, swing slower and analyze the details. Don’t try to kill the ball.

Irons: Avoid swinging too fast and pulling your head up. This is a slow accurate shot. Not about how far you hit it.

Putting: Be confident. Walk on the green thinking,” I’m going to make this.” Keep focus while putting.

Weather Conditions: Know everything about the wind.

Overall: Golf’s a weird game. Something always is getting thrown off. Just keep playing through it. Keep going within and outside of the round.