Boys golf: Bolin, Lucchesi lead Grayslake Central to NLCC championship
And then they play.
Or do they play, and then work?
Work is like play, and vice versa, for Thomas Bolin and Gianni Lucchesi, golfers for Grayslake Central who work at the Grayslake Golf Practice Center at the corner of Routes 45 and 120 in Grayslake.
Lucchesi's dad Dino is a golf pro and owns the place.
And before and after work, Thomas and Gianni work on their own games.
"Gianni helps me out and so does his dad. They've been big helps to my game and I've gotten a lot better since I started working there last year," Bolin said. "We hit a lot at work."
The extra reps have certainly helped both Bolin and Lucchesi, who took first and second place respectively at Wednesday's Northern Lake County Conference boys golf championship at Fox Lake Country Club.
On a chilly and fiercely gusty day, Bolin finished with an 84 while Lucchesi came in just behind with an 85. They paved the way for Grayslake Central, which entered the day with a 10-0 league record, to win its second straight NLCC title with a team score of 346.
It was also the second straight individual NLCC title for Bolin, who took first place in 2019 as just a sophomore.
"I'm really happy for (Bolin) that he won it," said Lucchesi, a senior. "I like going back and forth with him. We (compete) a lot at work."
Lucchesi's love affair with golf goes way back.
"I could swing a golf club before I could walk," Lucchesi said with a laugh. "I've learned a lot from my dad."
Bolin says that Lucchesi's dad Dino has been influential in his career, too. When he struggles during a competition, as he did for three holes at Fox Lake, he takes a deep breath and recalls conversations about technique that he's had with Dino.
"When I have a bad round, and I had a few today, I just think back to all the lessons and all the tips that Gianni and his dad and all my coaches have given me," Bolin said. "It was pretty tough today. The winds got up pretty fast and it was hard to aim where the ball was going to end up. But I think I did a relatively good job."
Grayslake Central coach Jim Mizetti believes that his golfers have managed consistent success in recent years because of the way they practice. And he says that the Rams' home course has a lot to do with that.
"We play on a very tough course at Stonewall Orchard Golf Club (in Grayslake)," Mizetti said. "My philosophy is that you're going to get better playing against tougher competition and on harder courses. That's just the way golf is. Our course is probably the toughest course around here in this area. It's tight, the greens are quick and it's unforgiving. You can never take any of the holes out there for granted. If they can play there, they can play anywhere. Our kids don't shy away from anyone."
Grayslake Central will be hosting the regionals at Stonewall Orchard. The Rams are excited for the challenge of their tough home course, but could do without the stiff winds that gave everyone fits at Fox Lake.
"It was definitely a lot of wind today. You have to know the distances with your clubs, clubbing up and clubbing down. With that much wind, it gets hard," Lucchesi said. "Some holes, I'd be clubbing up 3. Some holes, 150 yards out and it was a 9-iron, I'd be hitting a 7-iron or a 6-iron. That was tough.
"But I think we all did pretty well, and this gives us a lot of momentum going forward and hopefully we can do the same thing in regionals."
Grayslake Central swept the top three individual spots. After Bolin and Lucchesi, Keegan Fitzgerald came in third with an 87. Kyle Splitt of Grant and Keaghan Dahlen of Lakes tied for fourth, each with an 89.
Grant finished second as a team with a 375 while Lakes came in third with a 376 and Antioch finished fourth with a 378.