Along with seniors Ryan Borgstrom and Michael McPherson and fellow junior Trevor Lines, Justin Larsen represented Morris at the sectional round of the 2012 boys golf postseason.
According to Larsen, his elimination from the postseason at the 2A Nazareth Academy Sectional was a turning point in his golf career. He says his approach to the game has changed drastically as he has approached his senior season.
The season will begin for Larsen and the Redskins Aug. 23 when they play at the Lemont Shoot-Out. Larsen, who also serves as the public address announcer for home varsity baseball games at Morris, answered several questions from the Morris Daily Herald this week in between rounds of golf.
Q. How much golf did you play this summer?
A. I played a lot of golf this summer. I play about 36 holes a day and (am) always continuously fine-tuning different aspects of my game as a whole. I get out to the course around 8 in the morning, maybe sometimes earlier, and usually practice until dusk.
Q. When you play on your own, what’s your mindset? Are you actively looking to work on certain types of shots or areas of your game that you feel need to improve?
A. I work with John Keegan throughout the winter and work on getting my swing where it needs to be for summer. By the time summer comes, I incorporate a lot of course management into my game and work on setting myself up for great opportunities for par or birdie. I usually play an 18-hole round in the morning to see where my game is at for the day, and from there practice what I need to improve on.
Then go back out later and put my practice to work on the course.
Q. In what ways, if at all, has your game changed since that end of last golf season?
A. Like I said earlier, I worked with John all winter and I have my swing at a point now where I can be consistent with all shots on the course, and be 100 percent confident over every shot I have.
I have improved my short game tremendously over the summer, as well, and I have been able to make my game as a whole come together on the golf course. Not only have I fundamentally become better, but I have improved my mental aspect of the game this year, as well. I’m really looking forward to putting all the hard work into this year’s golf season.
Q. At what point did golf become more than just a casual game for you?
A. This is a great question, and I asked myself the same thing last year after my sectional match.
My sophomore year and going into my junior year, I was more worried about my popularity and high school drama than I was about my golf game. I came to a point where I knew I either had to step it up and make golf my No. 1 priority, or just be another guy out there taking up space on the course. I made golf my No. 1 priority that day after my round at sectionals. I began to live by a saying, ‘Sacrifice or regret; you choose.’ I knew going into last winter, if I wanted to continue playing golf onto the next level, I would have to buckle down and get serious about things. I have sacrificed many different things since then knowing that if I didn’t put everything out on the line this year, I would regret it and would never know where I could have gone in golf.
Q. What is your biggest win or accomplishment in the game to date?
A. I had a top-10 finish at the Southwest Junior Open this summer at Broken Arrow Golf Club. I have really broken a barrier this summer, and can consistently stay around par, and put a good round of golf together consistently.
Q. Obviously it is a frustrating game. Is there one round, hole or event shot that you would really like to have back?
A. No, I wouldn’t take back any rounds, holes, or shots because I believe that everything in my past has been a learning experience. Without those bad rounds, holes or shots, I would have never learned from them. I really believe in a saying that my swing coach, John Keegan, always tells me, ‘Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.’ So, no, I would definitely not take back any rounds, holes or shots. Those bad holes and rounds have only enabled me to become a better, more experienced golfer.
Q. Two of the four Morris sectional qualifiers from last year graduated. How will this year’s team look?
A. We have a young team this year, and I believe it will be a great building year for the Redskin golf program.
Q. What did you learn from your experience at the regional and sectional last year that you will use going forward?
A. I have learned to never give up on anything. Even if you have a few bogeys, or maybe a double, forget about it, come back and make a lot of pars and some birdies. Don’t let the past keep you from going forward.
Q. Are you still hoping to play at the next level?
A. I would love to play at the next level. It’s a huge goal of mine. I am going to work as hard as I can, leave it all out on the course and see what happens.
Q. Other than getting to share a booth with members of the local media, what do you enjoy most about announcing baseball games?
A. I love the adrenaline rush of Jump by Van Halen blasting in the background while announcing the Runnin’ Redskins lineup. It never gets old.