Eckardt’s confidence high, golf scores lowExcerpts from an Article in the Kewanee Star Courier Last Week by Mike Landis, editor of the Sports page. Way to to, John (son #4)!
Kewanee’s John Eckardt chips on the 10th hole Wednesday at Canton Country Club. His round of 32 on Baker Park’s front nine last week earned the KHS senior the Athlete of the Week nod from the Star Courier.
Baker Park brings out the best in John Eckardt.
The four-year varsity Kewanee golfer fired a career-low 32 last Thursday on the front nine at Baker Park to lead the Boilers to a triangular win over Geneseo and Hall. Eckardt’s 3-under effort on the flats earned the KHS No. 1 player the Star Courier’s Athlete of the Week honor.
“That’s my best,” said Eckardt, noting his previous low nine was 34 on Baker’s back side.
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“The first time I thought about it was my second shot on No. 3 when I was 2-under,” said Eckardt of shooting a low number. “I came up short on that shot, but I wasn’t nervous for the chip. I just had to get it close and I did.”
He closed the round with a two-putt birdie on the par-five fourth for 32. The performance spurred conversation of the all-time low nine-hole round in KHS golf history. In talking with previous coach Chris Gustafson, Eckardt said the two decided it was likely the best round in 25 years by a KHS golfer.
Current coach Kirk Fristad says Eckardt’s dedication to the game in the summer pays huge dividends during the high school season.
“He’s on the golf course all the time. If he’s not at summer basketball, he and his brothers are out there all the time,” said Fristad. “One time I saw him this summer, he was out on the driving range in the rain. You don’t see many other kids doing that.”
The close of Eckardt’s junior season let him know that he could play with the top high school golfers in the area and across the state. After advancing at the regional tournament, Eckardt was part of a three-way tie for first at the Monmouth-Roseville Sectional with 76 at Gibson Woods. While he lost the playoff to Peoria Christian’s Jonathan Hauter, the round let Eckardt know he could play with the big boys.
“I think it gave him a lot of confidence, more than anything else, that he could play with those kids,” said Fristad.
At state, Eckardt fired matching rounds of 85 to finish in the middle of the Class A pack at Prairie Vista in Bloomington. He hit 12 greens in regulation the opening day at state, but a balky putter kept him from jumping into contention.
“At state, I felt like this is where I should be at because I thought I could play that well,” said Eckardt. “That helped with my confidence for this season.”
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While he’s the No. 1 player for the Boilers, on some days he’s not the best player in his family. He’s joined on the KHS team by two brothers, Joey and Michael.
John credits his brother Andy for circulating the golf bug through the Eckardt family — five of the six boys played golf at Kewanee, with eldest Burnie opting to run cross country.
“Neither of my parents have played very much,” he said. “They’re not very good at all. My mom never plays and my dad has played his whole life, but not a lot and not very well.”