Cooper a fast study but wants to ‘ace’ these exams
by Andrew Stark
Luke Cooper was a 4-handicap golfer last summer, but after working hard to improve his game, the Covenant Day junior is now a scratch golfer and one of the best in the Metrolina Athletic Conference and, for that matter, the state.
Those attributes make it frustrating for Cooper when he fires a score such as the two-day 154 he posted at the N.C. Independent Schools 3A championship, which netted him 23rd place; he knows he can do better.
For example, during an April competition at Pine Island Country Club, Cooper shot a nine-hole score of 33, but it could have been even better. He entered the ninth hole five shots under par, but an ensuing double bogey resulted in the 33. In a similar contest, he was four under par but shot five-over on the final hole to finish the round with a 37.
“I don’t think I did as well as I could have this year,” Cooper said. “I improved and my scoring dropped and I made states, which was my goal, but I could’ve played consistently better.”
That is scary for MAC foes, as Cooper finished third at this season’s conference tournament, was named to the all-conference team and has the talent to put low numbers on the board each round.
For his accomplishments this year, Cooper is Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly’s 2012 Boys Golfer of the Year.
Cooper has been taking a few lessons at Mint Hill’s Pine Lake Country Club but has a knack for being able to self-diagnose his swing. When he sees where the ball is going, he can make quick adjustments to correct any problems he is facing.
“I can take advice I get and apply it to my game pretty easily,” Cooper said. “It takes a few rounds to kick in, but I am pretty good at figuring out what’s wrong with my swing.”
Turns out, he can also do the same with his teammates.
Covenant Day had won six of the past eight MAC titles entering this season. The Lions were very young, but Cooper helped mentor his teammates, something that helped his game as well.
“At first I didn’t know how to help them,” he said. “But after a while, I got the hang of it, and it actually helped my game. I can see little things people are doing and think about how it relates to my swing.”
Next year, the Cooper-led Lions will be favored to win the conference crown, and he would love to be a part of getting the team back to a high level. To do so, this summer he is working with his Pine Lake instructors, playing in Providence Country Club’s inter-club matches, and plans on competing in seven or eight national junior tournaments.
“I want to be the conference medalist (low scorer) in the tournament and definitely make states again,” Cooper said. “I think if I can do that, it will be a good year. Of course, I want to finish better than I did last year, though.”