Zach Vandervoort is an up and coming young golfer from Pratt.
Question: What is half your size, WAY less than half your age, and can beat you straight up at golf? Golfing insiders in Pratt County know that the answer to that question is not a what, but a who. And that "who" is named Zach Vandervoort.
The 13 year old Vandervoort will be an 8th grader at Liberty Middle School in the fall. This summer, however, Zach is concentrating on honing his already substantial golfing skills.
Golf is kind of a family affair with the Vandervoorts. Zach says his father Steve was always big into golf, and got him interested at the tender age of 3. Older sister Brielle played for Pratt High School a few years ago, and now still plays for enjoyment. Mother Amanda is wanting to learn the game, according to Zach, and 4 year old sister Michaela seems destined to be the next family member to be introduced to the pastime.
Zach credits his father with teaching him the golf swing, and anyone who has watched him play can see that he has learned his lessons well.
Zach has also taken a few lessons from the PGA pro at Carey Park in Hutchinson, Tyler Swenson. He also plays at times in a 13U Junior League on a team organized by Swenson that is comprised of some of the area's premier junior golfers.
Zach participates in Kansas Junior Golf Association tournaments that will lead up to a State meet toward the end of summer.
He has taken two firsts so far this year, shooting 78-83-161 to win at Wellington and 74-75-149 in his second win. Players hit from the middle tees, which would be where most adult men would play from.
His abilities have outgrown the more "recreational" summer tournaments wherein junior golfers from clubs around the state travel to play at one another's courses during weekday events. He says he prefers to play more competitive weekend tourneys against players who take it as seriously as he does.
Unfortunately, playing golf on the weekends interferes with his ability to play other sports during the summer. He enjoyed playing on the Junior Greenbacks traveling baseball team in previous years with kids he considers some of his closest friends. But the schedules of the two sports just overlap too much with Zach playing golf so many weekends- which is, of course, when the Junior Greenbacks play, also.
Another sport Zach enjoys playing is basketball, and he intends to play at LMS this year, then continue on when he enters Pratt High School.
For now, though, Vandervoort keeps up a diligent practice schedule as he continues to improve at golf. "I practice almost every day," Zach said. "It's important to take a day or two off once in awhile, but I usually practice or play about 6 days a week."
Practice consists of time spent on the driving range, then on the putting clock, then 18 holes of golf. Zach takes most of his practice sessions at Park Hills, where his family are members.
He considers his short game, chipping and putting to be the strongest parts of his game. One thing he is concentrating on this summer is trying to get a little longer off the tee. "I'm working on getting more distance with my driver," he said. "I'm trying to hit it a bit farther, but without losing my mechanics."
Golf is fun for Zach but he also realizes it could take him places. "My main goal is to try to get a Division 1 scholarship," he said.
Does he harbor ambitions of golfing beyond college, eventually turning pro, perhaps? Vandervoort is levelheaded about that. "That would be great, but that's not really what I'm aiming at," Zach said. "My main focus is to get into college. If I get there and do well, we'll just see what happens."
Vandervoort has several tournaments upcoming, and is working hard so he will be able to do his best at them. If ability, perseverence and a clear-headed approach have anything to do with it, Zach Vandervoort will represent himself very well.