Seven-year-old Justin LaRue loves making pars and birdies. At an age when most kids who try to hit a golf ball experience little success, Justin is accustomed to hitting it both long and straight. Last month, Justin competed in the U.S. Kids World Championships at the Mid-Pines Resort in Pinehurst, N.C. He placed 16th in his age group against a field that included 85 players from literally around the world. His score for three nine-hole rounds was 118, an average of just over 39 strokes per round. This marked the second trip to this tournament for Justin, who also won the world 6 and under putting championship last year.
Justin is a rising second grader at O.B. Gates Elementary School. Gates is a new school for Justin due to the fact that his parents recently moved the family from Enon to Woodland Pond. He has the experience of making friends easily, but isn’t particularly excited about the school year starting because it limits his golf time. He will continue to play some weekend tournaments throughout the fall.
Justin’s father, Chris, is also an avid golfer. “One of my great joys is having father-son time on the golf course,” said the elder LaRue. “We play together from our respective championship tees and it usually costs me. Justin is an extremely competitive young man.”
Justin plays mostly at The First Tee and at River’s Bend. His dad serves as his main coach, but he has also received assistance from the Kellys and the staff at First Tee.
“We’ve worked on his swing, but at this point we haven’t gotten too technical. We try to keep things fun,” LaRue explained.
Justin has a gorgeous swing, and from his championship distance of 1,700 yards for nine holes he generally shoots “lights out.” During a recent session at River’s Bend, the youngster was making near perfect contact time and time again. He is straight with his tee shots and is precise with his irons. He spins balls on the greens like few are able to do, continuously hitting it close anywhere inside 100 yards.
After the interview and this writer’s “playing lesson,” the dinner hour was fast approaching. As everyone said their goodbyes, Justin looked up to his dad with a simple request: “Can I hit a bucket before we go?”