Luke DelGobbo. BERNIE PUCHALKSI

Former Canadian champ lands Division 1 golf scholarship

When you win a Canadian golf title, the NCAA Division 1 recruiting process tends to get a whole lot easier.

“I think I sent out two letters,” said Luke DelGobbo, the 2019 national juvenile champion. “I contacted Ohio State and Kent State and there were a few schools that came to me.”

His interest in Ohio State and Kent State was obvious.

“The kid who beat me at the International Masters is now at Ohio State so I figured there’s a little connection there I could use,” DelGobbo said. “And Kent State, I know they have taken the best player from Canada the past several years. I had my heart set out on one of those two schools.”

Both schools offered him scholarships, although Ohio State offered him a spot starting in 2022.

In the end, the 17-year-old Fonthill teen committed to Kent State in the summer and signed his National Letter of Intent Nov. 11.

“It’s their history and the past players who have gone there, such as Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Connors,” the Grade 12 student at E. L. Crossley said.

Hughes and Connors are both PGA Tour regulars and tournament winners and the latter recently placed 10th at Masters. In more recent history, Kent State sophomore Chris Vandette was the 2018 and 2019 Canadian junior champion.

Joining DelGobbo on Kent State’s 2021 recruiting class were Jordan Gilkison, the No. 1-ranked junior in Ohio, and, Bryce Reed, a three-time medalist on the GolfWeek Junior Tour and a member of the All-GolfWeek Junior Team.

“Luke follows a long line of Canadians who have come through Kent State,” Kent State head coach Jon Mills said, in a release on the university’s website. “A lefty who has won at the highest level in Canada and possesses a great set of skills that will translate well to the collegiate level.”

Mills signed DelGobbo sight unseen.

“Due to COVID, I did not get the opportunity to watch Luke play even though he was on our list to watch,” Mills said. “College coaches are in a ‘dead period’ in regards to recruiting so we cannot travel or visit with prospective student athletes.”

It was amazing how many good things I heard about Luke

Mills offered DelGobbo a scholarship based on his results and the feedback he received on the talented teen from respected coaches and players around Ontario.

“It was amazing how many good things I heard about Luke. Work ethic and overall attitude was huge for me. That, paired with obviously a great set of skills, made the decision easy.”

The decision was easy but DelGobbo getting a chance to show his stuff in front of Mills was anything but.

“The virus screwed everything up,” DelGobbo said. “He saw me hit one shot and he wouldn’t have even known it was me. He was watching a tournament I was playing in when I was younger.”

It helped that he was on Team Ontario and Team Ontario coach Reggie Millage is a friend of Mills’.

“I was with Reggie a lot and I think Reggie helped it out a little bit.”

DelGobbo has spoken with Mills every week since committing in the summer and that interest made it a no-brainer for the Lookout Point member to sign on the dotted line Nov. 11 in front his parents, Mike and Lucia, and brother, David.

“We all kind of just sat down, I signed it and boom,” DelGobbo said. “It was just nice to get it done with. I am looking forward to going there and getting to play golf there. That’s why I am going, It’s going to be great to surround myself with a lot good players and see what it takes to get to the next level.”

He hasn’t set any goals for his first collegiate season.

“I don’t have any short-term goals because I don’t know what the next year is going to look like. I would like to compete in the junior ranks again next year and after that, have a few good years in college and see where that takes me. I am just trying to do the right things every day.”

Mills is excited about DelGobbo’s future.

“Luke has proven he is one of the better juniors in Canada and the sky is truly the limit for him as long as he comes in and works hard. This environment lends itself to improvement in all aspects of the game.”

Mills likes DelGobbo’s game and makeup.

“Luke has power and a good short game and I also love his compete level. He never gives up and will be someone you can depend on to do the right things and represent Kent State at the highest level. We are super excited to have him join the Kent State family.”

DelGobbo spent the summer working on his game.

“It was real tough to get tee times because there were a lot of restrictions and stuff,” he said. “But I tried my best and a lot of people were looking out for me, especially [at Lookout Point]. I played and used the practice facilities as much as possible.”

All that work paid off.

“The scores wouldn’t say it — I didn’t real do much — but I think my game is going in the right direction, for sure.”

He did a lot of work on his swing.

“I made a change back in March and it kind of went the wrong way. In the last month or so I have been getting back to where it was. It is a game of perfection.”

It is also a game of power for DelGobbo, who has a ball speed of 172 miles per hour and lots of length off the tee.

“I like to think my average is 300 yards. Some go over and some don’t quite get there.”

DelGobbo started golfing when he was 11 or 12 when a friend, Jake DiBellonia, took him out to play a round of golf at Eagle Valley. About a year or two later, he was shooting in the 70s.

“I started with lessons from J. J. Alexander. He was the head pro at Lookout, and then I just practised and played every day,” he said. “I met a lot good people out here and I played with them every day and I learned a lot from them.”

He would usually play in the morning, practise in the afternoon and then play another nine holes in the evening.

He realized he had a chance to play NCAA golf while golfing at Lookout with his friend Freddy D’Angelo, who became a NCAA Division 1 scholarship golfer with the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies in Rochester, Mich.

“I knew if I kept going in the right direction I would have a chance eventually.”

 

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