Thursday, March 21, 2013

Like father, like son

Dustin Hegge began golfing at early age, aspires to play professionally

By Sam Horn, Sports Writer

Family traits get passed down from generation to generation.

In Dustin Hegge’s case, that trait is golf, the sport his father taught him. Since the Hegges live on a golf course, the game of golf came naturally for Hegge. His father put a golf club in his hands at the age of 3, but  Hegge didn’t take golf seriously until eighth grade.

In order to gain as much experience as he possibly could, Hegge played 36 holes a day during his seventh and eighth grade summers in his backyard golf course.

Hegge’s father has always pushed him to strive for greatness. Hegge said his father didn’t get involved in golf until later on in his life, so he wanted to be sure Hegge had the opportunity to learn everything he could about golf at an early age.

In Hegge’s junior year of high school, he qualified for the Junior World Championship at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego.

The tournament represented over 70 countries.

“It was such a big accomplishment to be able to go down to the Torrey Pines course,” Hegge said. “It’s my favorite course that I’ve played on so far.”

When Hegge arrived at Pacific Lutheran University three years ago, he said the head coach of the men’s golf team, Kristopher Swanson, became a fatherly figure for him. Swanson encouraged him to think about playing golf professionally after making his mark at PLU.

 Hegge certainly has the credentials to turn pro after his collegiate career has come to an end. Hegge earned Northwest Conference Player of the Year honors during the 2011-12 campaign after finishing in the top three in the Northwest Conference’s “major” tournaments: the Fall Classic, Spring Classic and NWC Championships.

Hegge leads the Lutes this year with 72.2 strokes per match average. He won the Lutes’ Invitational March 2-3 with a three-under-par 69. He was the only golfer to finish under par in the 40 golfer field.

Hegge hones his golfing skills during team practices on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This gives him, along with the other golfers on the team, the chance to work on his short game, hit the driving range and practice wedge drills.

“My practice sessions are more concentrated now — at first I just played golf without taking anything into mind,” Hegge said. “I have gained more knowledge of my golf swing and have applied that to my game.” Hegge said his mental game has “grown a lot too,” and “golf is definitely a mental game.”

Hegge is part of a golf team ranked 17th in the nation this year, according to the latest Golfstat national poll. Five first years were brought in this year to bolster the Lutes’ squad and give them a chance to compete for a national title.

“Our team chemistry is really good. Everybody gets along really well with each other,” Hegge said. “The coaches make [practice] fun and laid back, but at the same time [Swanson] talks to us about getting to a national championship.”

After graduating from PLU with a degree in business and finance, Hegge said he wants to make an effort to find several sponsors in order to enter a multitude of professional golf invitationals.

“I want to get a job in the golf industry, because it’s what I like to do,” Hegge said. He said he could see himself playing golf in the future.

One day, Hegge might reciprocate his father’s teachings of golf upon his future son, exemplifying the ‘like father, like son’ idiom.