By Eric Jensen
Photos by Kurt Johnson
Blake Tomlinson talks like a college athlete and he obviously plays like one as well. The Skyline High junior golfer has already committed to play at the University of Utah.
Tomlinson started to golf before he could walk, before he could talk. At the age of one, he was walking around the house swinging pans and plastic golf clubs provided by his mother, who played collegiate golf at Colorado State University, and she is one of his major influences and his major inspiration to play.
“My mom is one of the major reasons I play golf,” Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson says it’s just in his blood. His entire family is full of golfers who have helped mold him as a player. Tomlinson’s inspiration translates into an athlete’s most important skill, the way he practices. Tomlinson says muscle memory is most important in the sport of golf.
“I hit ball after ball after ball” Tomlinson said.
He joined the Skyline team his freshman year, but that year was full of struggle on the course. Tomlinson picked it up through his practice though and by his sophomore year, he became one of the top golfers in the state.
The key to Tomlinson’s practice is how he maintains the tightness of his shots. Controlling where he hits the ball each time is the most beneficial to Tomlinson’s game.
Tomlinson’s game needed that boost his freshman year. He fell out of love with golf for a short while and began focusing more on other activities.
“It just wasn’t fun for a little while there” Tomlinson said. “I just wasn’t enjoying golf so I kind of stepped back.”
When Tomlinson entered his sophomore year on the team playing badly he had a realization.
“I fell behind my peers and I wasn’t being as competitive as I wanted to be,” he said. Tomlinson’s love for the competition of golf is unmatched. Winning is certainly not all that matters to this young man but if he is not going to give himself the best chance to win then that is simply considered a failure. Giving yourself a chance to win in golf is much more than physical though.
“Poise is very important even if you’re not playing good you have to stay calm,” Tomlinson said. He feels the key is not to get more aggressive but to slow your entire process down and salvage what you can from the hole if you’re having a bad round.
“When I was younger I certainly wasn’t poised, Tomlinson said. “If I were having a bad game id get angry lose focus and play worse.”
Part of Tomlinson’s rebirth as a player came through learning how to focus in on even a bad day. “I just matured, it came from people telling me a college coach doesn’t want a player who gets mad every time he hits a bad shot,” he said. “You can’t really practice poise and that’s why it’s the hardest aspect in golf or any sport really.”
A golf course is like a good book. On the surface it’s a nice looking green with 18 holes, but as you dig deeper and deeper the more cavernous crevices of difficulty you seem to find.
Golf is unlike any other sport. You don’t get a scouting report on a course that you can study, and watching film is helpful but it doesn’t match the challenge of actually playing the hole.
“The most important part of the match for me is not the match itself but the practice round,” Tomlinson said.
He feels getting to the course and going through the motions of what you will do in the match is really the most helpful thing a player can do for themselves.
“Two days before I go and play the course and from that I formulate a game plan in my head,” Tomlinson said. “The practice round is really important just so you can get a good lay of the course so you have the best chance to win”.
It seems so simple. From just feet away however even the best players in the world miss putts. This explains why Tomlinson says putting is the most challenging aspect in the sport of golf. “Putting can make or break your game,” he said. “There’s no way around it, you just get in your own head. If you’re 50 feet away from the hole and you even mishit the ball by a fraction, then you’re 12 feet away from the hole and you have got to make par because there’s no making bogie.”
It’s even nerve-racking to listen to Tomlinson’s description of putting. The amount of thought that should go into a putt seems like it should be next to none but because of the tenseness of the game of golf and how close scores can be every swing matters. You better have some poise or you’re dead in the water.
Tomlinson looks and sounds like a player ready for the big stage. The amount of growth he has gone through mentally the past few years cannot be overstated.
Blake Tomlinson is an unselfish, committed and headstrong athlete ready for the next step in his golf career, set on preparing a legacy in the present at Skyline High School. He added to that resume by winning the 2016 Class 4A state championship.
Skyline High senior Eric Jensen wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Bank of American Fork, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year. Jensen is a writer for the Skyline Horizon newspaper and the proud owner/writer and editor-in-chief of www.dramaofitallasportsblog.com. He is interested in a career in journalism, specifically sports journalism. Jensen’s inspirations are Al Michaels of NBC, and Chris Wesseling, Marc Sessler, Gregg Rosenthal and Dan Hanzus of the NFL.