April 23, 2014

Medina
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All Gazette: Winning is an addiction for Bees’ golfer Patrick Luth

It was a start only elite players can even dream of. Patrick Luth was on fire, tearing up golf courses and taking names while leading so-called rebuilding Medina to impressive victories.

Bees coach Jeanne Pritchard has seen a lot of golf in her time. Few feats truly impress her.

Medina senior Patrick Luth is the 2012 Gazette MVP for boys golf. (PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RON SCHWANE)

Luth’s mid-August play was the exception.

“Oh, my God,” she said. “I really thought he was going to break the school record for low average over the whole season. Even with some of the very best golfers — (three-time Gazette MVP) Nate Gumlia is the one I’m thinking of — no one has started better than that.

“It was a nice feeling for the team that Pat was going to be right there around 75. He was in a zone that you hear pros talk about.”

Luth rode the fast start to an outstanding senior season in which he helped the Bees reach the Division I state tournament for the fifth consecutive year. As a result, the quiet competitor was a slam dunk for
Gazette MVP.

“Over the last three years, he’s improved more than any golfer I’ve had,” Pritchard said. “If you take where he started as a sophomore, he dropped 3½ shots (off his average). That’s pretty impressive.

“He gets mad, but Pat has a rare ability to let it go. That separates him from other golfers. That’s what you need on the golf course.”

An avid Chipotle fan and pingpong player — “me and Spencer (Koch) have some pretty intense matches,” Luth quipped — with a 3.3 grade-point average, Luth entered the season a marked man after finishing tied for 12th at the 2011 state tournament and committing to Cleveland State during the summer.

Instead of crumbling under the weight, the 5-foot-11, 140-pounder embraced the pressure with what many people have called a ‘gorgeous’ and ‘mechanically sound’ swing and a cerebral approach that never allowed him to dwell on adversity.

The right-hander, who has above-average length off the tee (275-80 yards) but an incredibly soft touch around the green, finished with a 37.8 average that was more than a stroke better than the rest Medina County players. He won or shared medalist honors at six tournaments, including five of the first six events of the season.

Maybe most impressive was Luth’s consistency, as he was just 20-over-par on the year after blowing away the field at the Northeast Ohio Conference Tournament with an even-par 71 on the difficult Congress Lake Golf Club layout.

“Honestly, I felt like I was in this mental state where I was so locked in on every round,” said Luth, who led the Bees to three NOC Valley Division titles and a 32-1 dual match record over his three-year career. “I don’t think I’ve ever been that focused on the golf course.”

“It gave me a lot of confidence. When you win one tournament, you build so much more confidence so you can do it five times in the first six tournaments. You just feel like you can shoot real low, ya know? You can tear it up every time you go up there.”

The only time Luth didn’t tear it up was on Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course. After grinding his way to such an amazing season, he simply ran out of gas — “you kind of burn out, in a sense,” Luth said — and finished tied for 42nd (84-85-169).

Luth doesn’t need much to remain motivated. He’s always been the smallest among his peers — he won’t turn 18 until July 19 — and a collegiate career is still nearly a year away.

Those two days in Columbus, however, have already motivated him to begin an intense weight-training program that will increase his swing speed in an effort to boom it with the big boys.

“I’m always motivated to get better,” he said. “As a competitive kid, I just hate losing. When you don’t win, you gotta work harder to get better to win the next better.”

When taking into account how far Luth has progressed, it’s a good bet he’ll continue to succeed.

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.