Men's golfer Kolton Lapa swings for the PGA
Making up for lost time is difficult, but UA golfer Kolton Lapa is hoping it’s not too late to make up ground in moving onto a professional golf career.
Lapa started his college career at the University of Nebraska where he quickly set the 54-hole scoring record as a freshman and garnered two Big Ten Conference Player of the Week honors along the way.
“When I went to Nebraska first and had my career low, I broke the 54-hole scoring record there, everything was great,” Lapa said. “I was working with my swing coach Jeff Fisher and golf was basically everything, that’s all it was.”
Midway through his sophomore season in Lincoln, Nebraska, he decided to return to his home state and join Arizona’s team in hopes to further develop his game in better weather. By his estimation, it was only going to improve.
In the spring of his sophomore year, he posted his career-low average of 73.86, according to the Arizona Athletics website.
However, the temptation to be distracted by college life caused a drop in Lapa’s play the next couple seasons.
“As my career has kind of progressed, I let outside distractions hold me back a little bit,” Lapa said. “I think that has been the main key. Once my junior year came along, I basically quit working with my swing coach. It was a rebuilding year.”
Lapa’s numbers tailed off, his average jumped to 76.05 in addition to not placing inside the top 30 in any tournament he played in his junior year. Posting just two rounds under par that season, Lapa realized he needed to make a change.
“This senior year, I have dedicated everything I possibly can to get on the right track,” Lapa said.
It’s been so far, so good this season as he finished in the top 20 in four tournaments to date including a fourth-place finish at the Northern Trust Open Collegiate Showcase, which Lapa said was the most fun he has had at a tournament in his career and a bit of a turning point.
“We got to play at Bel-Air Country Club, … we had a banquet dinner, warmed up with Ricky Barnes and I was in contention all day,” he said. “I was in first place at one point before finishing fourth. I was able to meet PGA Tour pro Vijay Singh in the clubhouse and then I met Rory McIlroy, so all that was pretty cool.”
Lapa pointed to watching professional golfers warm up next to him as the moment he realized he could do it himself. Lapa said that the main difference between himself and the pros are the small things like course management and making smart decisions.
The goal moving on is a shot at the PGA Tour, and everything he does from this point forward is to prepare for that.
Lapa said he modified his schedule to where he can attend class online, thus freeing up time to be more regimented.
“I wake up, I go to breakfast at Bear Down Kitchen, then I head to the course,” Lapa said. “I kind of treat it like I am a tour professional already.”
He spends roughly eight to nine hours a day on the course honing his skills before returning home to finish his online studies. The structure has paid off so far as Lapa is on track to have his career-low average in his final campaign.
Lapa is currently ranked 1,510th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, according to the WAGR website, and is steadily moving up as the season comes to a close.
The early success coupled with his recent experience of being around tour pros is the reason Lapa is pushing hard to achieve a dream only few can. Only time will tell if he is on the right track.
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