Jack Gibbs had committed to play golf at the University of Virginia months before.
But when the time came recently for the Lakeside High School senior to sign a letter of intent to play for a Division I program, he said it was a little hard to concentrate.
“I got through it,” he said. “All my hard work has paid off, I guess.”
Though the senior still has a final prep year of golf with the Panthers remaining, the day was an early culmination of Gibbs’ success.
In 2010, as a sophomore, he helped Lakeside win the Class AAAA state title. He shot 77, the second-best score for the Panthers.
“The most joyous situation I think I’ve ever been in,” Gibbs said of the experience. “It was awesome.”
He’s continued his strong play, both with Lakeside and in individual tournaments on junior tours, such as the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour and the American Junior Golf Association.
For his senior year, Gibbs would like to add to the hardware collection. In addition to goals of team success, he’d like to challenge for the individual region and state titles.
Gibbs is a member at Augusta Country Club, where he works under the direction of Master Golf Professional Tommy Brannen and Teaching Professional Garry Cressend.
“Jack has got probably the most talent of any junior I’ve seen,” Cressend said. “The power element of his game is unmatched.
“Maybe a year ago, it was all about power. Now, he’s developing finesse to go with it. He’s learned when to use it and when not to.”
Conventional wisdom says that student-athletes who sign with college programs can relax a little bit. They’ve made the decision, and that’s that.
But Gibbs believes that’s a myth.
“Everyone thinks that, but it’s probably just as much pressure because you still have to play good to keep your coach excited about you,” he said.
Gibbs notes that he’s not one to stand on the driving range and hit golf balls until his hands hurt.
Instead, he’s the type of player who likes to go out and play.
It doesn’t mean he doesn’t practice when his swing needs work or work on his chipping and putting, but he does enjoy the playing aspect more than straight practice.
“You almost have to do something where you’re competing with somebody else or competing with yourself,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re just kind of going out there and going through the motions.”