Make no mistake about it, Lowell senior Kyle Pratt is aiming to become one of the region's elite golfers.
His performance at the end of last season was certainly a step in the right direction -- and a confidence builder, to boot.
Last season, Pratt shot an 84 at the Boone Grove Sectional at Lakes of the Four Seasons, qualifying individually for the LaPorte Regional.
"Last year, at sectionals, I was par, bogey, par, bogey," Pratt said of his front nine round. "I didn't think I was going to make it out.
"The back nine, I was par, par and on one hole I remember I was putting for a 10-foot eagle. I was like 'Maybe I can do this.'"
That improved level of confidence would never have come without increased mental toughness on the course. Pratt's older sister, Mallory, is a former Lowell golfer who has taught him to improve that aspect of his game.
"Every tournament, she always tells me 'PMA: positive mental attitude,'" he said. "If you hit one bad stroke, don't get down. Pretty much everything is attitude. My freshman and sophomore years, if I started off bad I would always get down. It's definitely improved. You have to stick with it when you hit a bad shot."
New Lowell coach John Harris is aiming to push the Red Devils past sectionals this season.
"I took their scores from last year and looked and saw what they needed in order to finish in the top two or three to qualify (for regionals)," he said. "There was a difference of about 25 strokes as a team. That's five to six strokes per player that we can improve. It won't be easy. They will have to work to shave those five or six strokes per person."
Pratt, along with Mike Bafia, is just one of two seniors on the team. That experience should help bring the underclassmen along, as Pratt will be counted upon to lead the team as its most skilled golfer.
"I just make sure the team agrees on everything, as far as what they want to do," Pratt said. "I just help out all the kids as much as I can. We had a lot of new kids try out this year."
Pratt had dropped about eight strokes on his average nine-hole round from his freshman year, a good enough improvement that smaller colleges have shown interest in him, including Manchester College.
Harris is doing everything he can to help Pratt play at the next level.
"He told me he would like to do that if he can get some offers," Harris said. "Once tournament play comes, I'll be contacting a list of coaches. We'll send video and scores to some coaches, as well."