UNION TWP. | The nasty spring weather wasn’t the only obstacle impeding the Wheeler boys golf team early this season.
Several injuries, including a broken hand suffered by senior and No. 1 golfer Brad Young, made the short Bearcats roster even shorter.
“We didn’t have a full team for some of the events,” said coach George Topoll, whose squad sent out just three golfers on multiple occasions. “We were non-competitive. Without Brad, we didn’t really have enough for a team.”
Young is healthy now after returning to the links around the time April turned to May and is happy to be competing again as a senior in just his third season of high school golf.
He gave other sports a chance before his dad, Calvary Church pastor Lionel Young, instilled in him a love of golf.
That love for the game grew during the summer after Brad Young’s sophomore year during a family trip across the pond.
“My dad taught me to play golf and I just kept playing it. The last couple of years I really picked up on it and started playing a lot,” Young said. “My sophomore summer I spent a month in Europe with my dad, and I played there.
“We went to Scotland for a week and played golf there, which is a really neat experience. It was really awesome. It was, like, my second year of golf, so I was still developing, but it was really fun to be able to play along the water and against the wind. It was, like, (a) 50 miles-per-hour wind on some of the courses. It was great.”
In just three years, Young has gone from golf newbie to future collegian. The only question was where he would spend his college years.
Topoll, who also coaches the men’s golf team at Calumet College, tried to hold onto Young for four more years, but he was outweighed by some heavy competition.
“I recruited him, and he considered it,” Topoll said, “but he had a lot of pressure from (Valparaiso) Mayor (Jon) Costas and (others) It was tough to compete against (them). They’re members of his father’s (congregation).”
Costas attended St. Joseph’s College, and that’s where Young will be taking his game. But first, he’ll wrap up his high school career, starting with Friday’s Valparaiso Sectional, an event he wouldn’t miss for just about anything -- including his own brother’s wedding.
Fleetwood Young, himself a Wheeler golf alum, married the former Molly Steiner the same day as the Greater South Shore Conference tournament. Brad Young skipped the event to attend the nuptials, but said the decision wouldn’t have been so easy had the marriage taken place during the IHSAA postseason.
“I would’ve really had trouble missing sectionals,” Young said. “I was glad that it was conference, because I want to play in sectionals and have a chance to move on. I really didn’t want to miss my brother’s wedding because I love him, and it was really good family experience.”