Boys golf: Nate Lee heads cast of Niles West veterans
Niles West's Nate Lee prepares to take a shot during the Class 3A championship in Bloomington . | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:53PM
SKOKIE — Niles West junior golfer Nate Lee is a two-time IHSA State Meet qualifier, who appears poised to make an impact at this season’s signature event in mid-October, in Bloomington.
“My thought is that he’s probably one of the top 20 players in the state, and I would think he would be shooting for a top-20 finish,” Niles West head coach Mitch Stern said. “Who knows? He’s just as good as anybody and we could have a state champion on our hands. All I know is he’s a good player. If he’s playing well, hitting greens and making putts, he’s got a real shot this year and his senior year. He’s the real deal.”
Practice for the 2012 golf season began this week, and Lee enters in good form after registering several top five finishes in local amateur tournaments over the summer.
Lee, who finished 86th at the Class 3A State Meet last season, has been working on his short game, according to his coach.
“I think he’s trying to be more creative around the greens,” Stern said. “He’s hitting different wedge shots and trying not to be such a one-trick pony. He’s trying to make the ball stop more (on the green) and put a little more spin on the ball. Hopefully, that has happened and he’ll be able to work the ball differently around the green, instead of relying on the roll of the green.”
Lee is the Wolves’ lone returning sectional qualifier from last year’s team, which went 4-1 in the CSL South and came in second. It was program’s best conference finish at least 12 years.
The biggest loss is Nick Hester, who missed out on state qualification when he lost a sudden-death playoff at the sectional.
“Nick got kind of a bad break when he hit a ball that got stuck on a tree stump. He had to take a drop and it kind of cost him a shot at state,” Stern said. “That was kind of a drag because he was a senior and deserved better than that.”
Incoming senior Brandon Moy will be counted on to fill the void left by Hester’s departure.
“Brandon had some great rounds this summer and he’s looking to make a name for himself this year as a senior,” Stern said. “He’s kind of a golfaholic and we’re counting on him to step up and fill Nick’s shoes.”
Fellow seniors Jacob Malina and Alex Darville are two other varsity returnees.
Meanwhile, freshman Skylar LeVine enters school as a ready-made varsity player. The youngster has been playing amateur tournaments for several years, and Stern estimates LeVine could be the team’s No. 3 or No. 4 player.