Sophomore golfer Keaton Lausch earned his spot on the roster in 54 holes of golf. When he decided to take the risk of playing college golf, his spot wasn’t guaranteed. Choosing to continue the dream and become a walk-on was a swing of faith for the biology major from Fergus Falls, Minn. Lausch’s swing connected without error, and now he’s on his way to becoming a leader on the golf team for the next three years.
Bison Illustrated: Were you going to NDSU already before deciding to walk-on to the golf team?
Keaton Lausch: “I hadn’t set a college yet. I was still trying to decide if I wanted to play golf or if I wanted to just go to school or do whatever. I talked to Coach (Steve) Kennedy a little bit, and he kind of persuaded me to come here and to give golf a try.”
BI: So what was the deciding faction in you coming to NDSU?
KL: “He (Coach Kennedy) asked me to come up to Fargo and have a visit in his office before I came. So I came up, and we had a long talk about the opportunities and everything that I was going to get here and the chances I had to make the team. When I left the meeting, I pretty much decided that I was going to give it a try and he was really welcoming and it felt like NDSU was going to be a really good place.”
BI: But you were for sure on the roster, right?
BI: What was the tryout process like?
KL: “He allowed, I think it was myself and three other guys, the chance to qualify. It was just a 54-hole deal, and the low score after that made the team.”
BI: Do you carry that chip on your shoulder after literally playing your way onto the team?
KL: “Yeah. When I first came here, I felt like I was out of place and I didn’t really belong there. But as time went on, I started playing better, and people were thinking maybe I can play and it just gave me a little more confidence being a walk-on and not having any scholarship money. It does add a little chip on your shoulder.”
BI: How did the team receive you last year after you made the team as a walk-on?
KL: “I actually knew quite a few of them from playing high school golf and stuff. They were very welcoming of having me on the team.”
BI: What’s gone into the improvement of your golf scores from your first year to now?
KL: “I worked super hard in the Dactoah Field Bubble last winter. I worked with my swing coach and stuff like that a little bit. We got in a good groove and I played fairly well in the spring and then I worked again, timeless and countless hours this summer and then tried to carry it over to the fall.”
BI: How has your approach changed?
KL: “I know a little bit more what to expect. I know how college tournaments are set up, how courses are set up, I know how long they’re going to be. I know a lot of kids that I’m playing with because I played with them before and I’m just not a rookie anymore, which is definitely good.”
BI: What can you take away from your first Top-10 finish you had at Whistling Straits Intercollegiate in October?
KL: “It just gave me confidence that I was four or five shots away. I could’ve shaved a few off here and I could’ve shaved a few off there. I could’ve won this golf tournament. It just gave me expectations and confidence that I do belong here and I can win.”
BI: Without looking at any film, how do you go back and improve on those shots you missed?
KL: “We keep stats and everything, so we know how many fairways we hit a round, how many greens in regulation and how many putts. We do keep stats like that, but you pretty much just have to go and replay it in your head and think about what you could’ve done differently here. Maybe approach your shot differently. You have to spend a little time post-round and hope you turn it around the next round and make fewer mistakes.”
BI: What are your expectations for the spring season when you get going again in February?
KL: “I want to play the best golf I can and help my team out the best way that I can and try to get us to a conference championship. But I mean, for the most part, just try to lower that stroke average and look for my first collegiate win.”