If there’s no substitute for parental support, then consider this one: How about when Mom and Dad not only provide a foundation in athletics, they can beat you at what you do best?
Meet Melanie and Lance Pulliam.
She’s a 10-time champion in golf at Hanford’s Kings Country Club.
He’s won his share, also, and, at 50 years old, remains a scratch player despite not pulling out the sticks nearly as often as he used to.
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Now he spends much more time watching, guiding, sometimes even caddying, for his son.
Meet Lane Pulliam.
He’s a 16-year-old who just completed his sophomore year at Hanford High and the most impressive three months of golf for a teen from Chowchilla to Bakersfield.
This is why he’s The Bee Boys Golf Player of the Year, a rare feat, given his age.
Fact is, he began beating Mom on the links three years ago and Dad not much later, not that 18 holes of superiority over pops is a given today.
It’s not, but this is: Lane Pulliam is what he is in large part because he had a golf club in his hand nearly from the time he arrived from the womb and, further, consistent instruction from those who knew how to swing it.
“Lane was raised in a car seat while I drove to the golf course,” Mom says. “Then he started playing with me. He literally could hit a 100-yard shot at 2 years old.”
Eventually, the boy’s talent took over, and it would be indisputable.
Today, that shot has extended off the tee typically straight, if not particularly long, averaging about 280 yards. His strength is a short game that blends exceptional wedge shots, bunker play and putting.
So down went Mom, the former Melanie Lane (yes, son would be given her maiden name) and Exeter volleyball and basketball player and diver.
And down would go Dad, who played some hoops at Hanford and continues a 25-year chiropractic business there in the city on 11th Avenue.
“I’ve always wanted to compete with people,” the son says, “and what better people to compete against then your parents. My first goal was to beat Mom, finally. And then consistently beat Mom. I kind of achieved that. Then the goal was to beat Dad. And I’m still working on beating him consistently.”
For all of his accomplishments — specifically: winning two straight Len Ross Fresno City Junior Amateur titles, setting West Yosemite League and Lemoore Golf Course records, finishing seventh in the California Junior Amateur Championship and firing rounds of 71, 72 and 73 in the Central Section’s recent postseason — perhaps most impressive of all has been his ability to not only compete with but beat golfers far advanced physically, in age and experience.
Consider: Pulliam placed fifth in the Fresno City Amateur a month ago at Riverside Golf Course, schooling, among others, a team of Fresno State players and beaten only by four in college, out of college or, in the case of four-time tournament champion Danny Paniccia, one long established on the local links out of Belmont Country Club.
“It wasn’t weird for me, not a shock,” he says. “Ever since I was little, I never played with anyone younger than me.”
Pulliam’s game figures to grow as he does with a 6-foot, 140-pound frame.
Honors continue to rain, including the announcement this week that Pulliam will be among a foursome representing Northern California in the Hogan Cup in August in Portland, Oregon. It attracts the best junior golfers from the Western U.S. and Canada.
Meanwhile, the honors continue to rain, including the announcement this week that he’ll be among a foursome representing Northern California in the prestigious Hogan Cup in August in Portland, Oregon. It attracts the best junior golfers from the Western United States and Canada.
“To be able to look back and say I played in the Hogan Cup is huge,” he says. “That’s definitely an honor. (Current) tour players have been champions in it.”
Pulliam, who has a GPA of 3.89 and has made an unofficial visit to UCLA, welcomes the pressure and expectations that he has created only halfway through high school.
“I try not to think about pressure,” he says, “because I’ve thought about it in past tournaments and it definitely does not help.
“I just try to do well every tournament I get into. Of course, I’d like to win everything, but that’s not going to happen.”
Nor is beating pops every time.
“I love to see him beat me because I know he’s getting better,” Dad says. “But I don’t want to make it easy for him.”
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