Kelby Burton experimented with different instructors coming up as a junior golfer, but never made a long-term commitment until 11 months ago.
Burton, a Lakeside senior, started working with Jones Creek's Drew Belt in December 2008.
The goal was to refine Burton's swing, to give it a professional look.
Burton has seen results in less than a year. He signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday to play golf for Kennesaw State University.
"Last year, I could play, but I wasn't nearly as good as I am now," Burton said.
"I've improved a lot -- dramatically."
Burton said the improvements have allowed him to score well in bigger and better tournaments than he has played in the past.
Kennesaw State golf coach Jay Moseley tracked the improvement on paper, following Burton's scores and rankings.
Moseley watched Burton play for the first time in September at The Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational in Spartanburg, S.C., where Burton shot rounds of 72-71 to finish 10th.
Moseley noticed the qualities Belt and Burton had been working to instill.
"It's not one of the golf swings you see that looks like there's a lot of wasted energy," Moseley said. "He makes it look easy.
"And that's what coaches love to see is a guy that is already to a point with his golf swing that he doesn't need a lot of work."
Burton also has been working on his mental approach, trying to maintain the same demeanor throughout a round, no matter how it's going.
"I try to hold myself together," Burton said.
"You can't really tell a difference when I make a birdie or when I make a bogey. I'm the same person."
Belt said he believes Burton has only reached a fraction of his potential, and Burton said he plans to continue working with the pro whenever he has the opportunity.
Moseley said Burton could contribute to his young Owls team immediately, and that Burton should see improvement in his short game once he starts working with the college program.
Before that, Burton and his Lakeside teammates will be focused on earning a trip to the state tournament next spring after being shut out of the team competition two consecutive years.
"We're definitely hungry to win region," Burton said. "We know that it's not a gimme.
"We're going to push ourselves as hard as we can. I'm going to push myself as hard as I can."
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