By Conner Strong
Photos by Kurt Johnson
Ian and Keegan VanLeeuwen, twins from Brighton High School, are two very similar people. They have GPAs 100ths of a point off from each other and their golf scores are in close competition, making them No. 2 and 3 on the team.
They are almost identical with the exception of a few small features. Yes, they are in fact different but their close relationship fuels their achievement in golf and academics.
Ian, the slightly better golfer, has been applying to colleges for golf scholarships, while Keegan has his sights set on academic scholarships. Keegan was named to the academic all-state team.
“I’ve been put on Stanford’s recruiting list,” Ian said, “and we’ve both been talking to [the University of] Utah and Utah State” and other local colleges.
Prior to the pair’s sophomore year, Keegan was in a car accident that put him in the hospital for nearly a week. As a result, he was not able to perform during Brighton tryouts and didn’t make the team that went on to win the state championship this year.
“It has altered the way I look at life really,” Keegan said. “It’s pushed (me) to better myself in a lot of things, especially golf and just to really try harder in school and to really make the team the next year. All in all I’m pretty happy with where I am in my game and I don’t see that ring as something that I never accomplished.”
The brothers say that they push each other to get better.
“We’re always telling each other what we do wrong and how we can fix that,” Keegan said.
“The first time Keegan broke 70, it really pushed me to break 70,” Ian said.
Neither has anything negative to say about the other, but there is the occasional constructive criticism. Ian suggested that Keegan could benefit from some additional time on the course.
“I think Keegan just needs a little more, um, not exactly playing time, but just more experience in state and more competitive tournaments, so he can play good like I know he can,” Ian said.
The Bengals won the Region 3 championship and moved on to state, where they finished sixth as a team, with Ian tied for 28th (149) and Keegan tied for 53rd (155).
Coach James Gresh has only good things to say about the VanLeeuwen brothers.
“They’ve been in our program for four years,” Gresh said. “They’re extremely hard workers, practice very hard, very diligently every day. Great ball strikers, good putters and they have aspirations to playing college golf.
“It’s very difficult to tell them apart, has been for four years, but it just kind of makes them so unique how they show up and play. I mean it’s just a good story about how hard they work for this school and how they’ve been a part of three region championships.”
Golf is a competitive sport, whether in high school, playing in local tournaments, or simply playing a friendly round. When asked how playing with his twin brother, Ian replied that the experience goes beyond that of playing with a teammate.
“I think it’s nice because you have a family member there,” Ian said. “Keegan and I play all the time in the summer so it’s not really like playing with a teammate, more so playing with my brother.”
Keegan did say that there was one con to playing with his brother, “We look alike in the pictures.”