Ten-year-old Presten Richardson standing in a mowed field, hitting golf shots onto strategically placed blankets.
“My dad said until you go out there and put a ball on each blanket from each spot you can’t go over to the golf course and practice,” said Richardson, now a 16-year-old sophomore at Miller High School.
It wasn’t long before Richardson was practicing on the real course and from there his golf game exploded.
“I just went out when I was 9, 10, 11 on my phone watching YouTube, watching pros play, trying to mimic their swing. I’d go out and play 50-some holes a day during the summer at the nine-hole course by my house.”
Richardson was a natural.
He comes from a very athletic family; his grandfather, a member of Southwest Baptist’s first national tournament basketball team, his mother, a college softball player, his older brother, a multi-sport standout at Miller, and his father, a three-time NCAA All-American javelin thrower at the University of Tennessee.
Despite that, Presten is the first true golfer in the family.
“I saw a video of him (Presten) hitting a golf ball at three years old,” said Presten’s grandfather Stewart Richardson. “So I called and said who’s been working with him and his father said no one. That’s the first time he’s ever had a club in his hand. It’s natural. Beautiful swing and it continues to be.”
Presten is also a standout football and basketball player, but there’s no question where his athletic future lies.
“Golf is my number 1.”
Even more impressive considering he’s had just one golf lesson in his life.
“He’s just got a great dedication,” said Miller golf coach Hannah Wilkerson. “He’s got a work ethic that’s not normal for a teenage kid. He’s never satisfied and he works so hard.”
Admittedly, Wilkerson, the state’s all-time leading basketball scorer and former Missouri State Lady Bear, can’t share much golf advice, but her work ethic has certainly rubbed off on her talented pupil.
“I know from her it takes work,” said Richardson. “Once you get up here it doesn’t just stop, you have to keep working at it.”
So far, so good.
Richardson earned Class 1 All-State honors as a freshman, finishing 11th overall. This year, his goal is even higher, and his hard work is paying off; winning Tuesday’s Class 1 District 2 tournament at Marshfield’s Whispering Oaks by five strokes, firing a 2-over par 72.
Just a week before, he shot a personal best 4-under par 66 at the same course.
Up next, sectionals next week then state the following week at Rivercut.
And some day…
“I want to go to Tennessee. My goal is All-American there just like my dad.”