The Bee's Spring All-Stars: Boys Golfer of the Year Kevin Lauterbach of Yosemite (video)

The Fresno BeeJuly 2, 2014 

Kevin Lauterbach has been a respectable golfer for 10 years, good enough, in fact, as a senior this season at Yosemite High to be named The Bee's Player of the Year.

But it took the most miserable round of his life to get there.

"Awful," he says of a 20-over 92 he tanked at a USGA-sponsored tournament near Sacramento in March. "I blew up."

"An embarrassment," says his father, Glen Lauterbach, who expressed himself none too kindly to his 17-year-old son on the drive home.

Son: "Long ride."

Dad: "I did most of the talking, and it didn't have a lot to do with golf; it was more about life."

Son: "He was mad at me; I was mad at myself."

The entire experience -- on the course; in dad's truck -- was the turning point of Kevin Lauterbach's season; perhaps the turning point of his career.

"It changed the way I practiced," he says. "When I got back, I worked hard every day, I focused more and it carried over to my play."

Two months later, the 6-foot, 155-pounder linked a 71-72-72 series in the Central Section North Area Tournament (placed first), section individual tournament (second, after losing a playoff) and Southern California Regional (tied for eighth) that the big boys of the section couldn't touch -- not collectively.

Not Buchanan's Sean Duckering, The Bee's 2013 Player of the Year.

Not four-time Bee All-Stars James Trevino and Jeffrey Yamaguchi of Clovis West.

Not Len Ross-Fresno City Junior Amateur champion Charlie Chapman of Bullard.

Never, since The Bee established golf All-Star teams in 2009, has a Player of the Year come from a small school (Yosemite's enrollment is 770).

"The Valley has a lot of good golfers," Lauterbach says, "and knowing I was going out there and beating them felt good. I was putting in the time and it was finally paying off."

Sort of.

"The only thing that sucked," he says, "it was a year late. I was a senior and college coaches weren't looking at me; they had already signed their recruits."

The player who found a short game in recent months to complement his booming, 300-yard drives, will play for Reedley College, hope to further establish his game, and wait.

"I'm going to Reedley for one year, hopefully," says Lauterbach, who will turn 18 in August. "And then I'm thinking I might want to go down and play for San Diego State; that's kind of my plan. If I have a good year and get some scholarship offers, that could change my decision."

The North Sequoia League's Co-Most Valuable Player in water polo as well has never concentrated on golf year-round.

But that's going to change, effective immediately.

"He has a lot of room to grow," dad says. "I'm just looking where it goes from here."

Yosemite coach Reg Turner points upward: "When you're that long (off the tee), sky's the limit.

"When Kevin made the decision not to just play golf, but to work at golf, it was like night and day. His practice times increased, his focus became clear and his scores dropped. In a very short time, he has proven to be the best in the Central Section and one of the best in Southern California.

"His potential is unlimited."


Boys Golfer of the Year: Kevin Lauterbach

Grade: Senior

School: Yosemite

Scorecard: First player from a non-Yosemite Division school to earn this honor since it was established by The Bee in 2009, he was clearly the Central Section's best player in the postseason. The three-time North Sequoia League Player of the Year won the section's North Area Tournament with the only subpar round (71) at Fresno's Riverside Golf Course, shot par (72) before losing to Stockdale's Blake Bourelle in a sudden-death playoff for the section individual tournament title at Madera's Riverbend Golf Course and led 22 section representatives with a par 72 at the Southern California Regional Championship at Pasadena's Brookside Golf Club.

The reporter can be reached at aboogaard@fresnobee.com or @beepreps on Twitter.

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