DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
In mid-June, 2015 Center Grove graduate Christopher Heck and teammates made a spirited run at the IHSAA boys golf state championship.
The Trojans wound up finishing second to Westfield at the state meet.
Steps away watching each and every shot was Heck’s younger brother, Alex, 14, who will be an eighth-grader at Center Grove Middle School Central in August — and is on pace to follow in his brother’s footsteps as a standout golfer.
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Since the conclusion of the IHSAA State Meet, Alex Heck been busy with summer tournaments. Next up is a two-day Indiana Junior Golf event Aug. 15 and 16 at Brickyard Crossing.
Only two days after from the state championship, Alex and his father Jim Heck, who served as his caddy, were on their way to Owensboro, Kentucky, to compete in a Hurricane Junior Golf Tour event: The Major Championship.
By carding scores of 80-78, Alex placed third in the 13-14 age category.
“It was a unique opportunity to have him on the bag,” Alex said of his father. “It made me feel a lot more comfortable, and he helped me a lot.
“I’ve found a real passion for the game, and I’m going to spend as much time as I can doing what I love.”
Jim Heck relished the chance to caddy for his son.
“Very few opportunities like this present themselves. When they do allow it, it makes for a very exciting tournament,” he said. “Caddying allows me to offer advice when needed because when they are on their own, we are not allowed to talk to the players, and that’s tough, unlike other sports.”
A few days after the Kentucky tournament came a family vacation to Sand Key, Florida, just off the Gulf Coast.
On his first day out at Belleaire Country Club, Alex put his name in lights by firing a course-record 65 on a layout that measures 4,750 yards. After bogeying the first hole, Alex went on to record nine pars.
“He reminds me of a Fred Couples Jr. by his talent and demeanor,” Belleaire Director of Golf Jim Slattery said. “From a physical standpoint, I remember seeing him when he was eight years old and saying to myself, this kid’s got something special. Alex has enormous talent.
“He picks things up quickly. He understands the game so much easier than his peers and respects the game. I knew at the beginning when I first met him, that good things were going to happen for him, and they’re starting to happen now.”
Meanwhile, here at home, Scott Downing, director of Golf at Hillview Country Club in Franklin, has been a personal instructor for Christopher and Alex.
“Alex is a gifted and talented young man,” Downing said. “His swing is natural like his dad’s. And he has a good attitude and does what it takes to improve. He trusts me.
“When we’re together he always asks the right questions and makes the right observations. He has a keen ability to put himself in the shoes of others. He loves his brother and is his No. 1 fan, so he celebrates his successes and feels every bit of his pain when things aren’t going so well.”
That was evident when Christopher, who is continuing his golf career at the University of Indianapolis, came off the course with an injured knee after the first day at the state finals.
Alex was right there to console him.
The next day, Christopher came back strong, finishing the day with a three-over par 75.
“(Alex) works really hard on his game,” Christopher said. “He is always eager to learn and be creative because we both are competitive. You need that kind of confidence to play such a mentally challenging game.
“He leans on me for advice, but I have actually leaned on him. He always has some great things to say by making it humorous but serious at the same time.”
Center Grove Middle School Central golf coach Matt Rodman said consistency is Alex’s primary strength.
“He’s a model golfer. Consistently down the middle of the fairway, always around the green, always up-and-down for a par or birdie. He never gets himself in trouble,” Rodman said. “And even when he bogeys a hole, he’s telling himself that hole is over. It’s time to move on.
“That’s very rare for a middle-school-aged student. Alex is a student of the game.”
Center Grove High School coach Jim Williams looks forward to the day Alex joins the Trojans’ squad.
“If he’s anything like Christopher, and I know he is, he’ll be a welcome addition,” Williams said. “He’s not your typical middle school kid coming up. He’s pretty well got a little pedigree behind him. He understands what is going on with the golf game.”
Alex Heck has many friends associated with golf and already has a pretty good idea who his future high school teammates will be.
“It’s been a great ride thus far,” he said. “I’ve gotten closer to all of them. Getting this far has been exciting.
“I’m going to keep working at it, and we’ll see what happens.”
Name: Alex Heck
Family: Jim and Margie Heck, Christopher, brother
Favorite TV show: Shark Tank
Favorite movie: Caddyshack
Favorite food: Sushi and rice
Favorite athlete: Bubba Watson and Jason Day
Favorite golf courses: Warren Golf Course, University of Notre Dame (Indiana), Pebble Beach (California), Bellaire Country Club (Florida)
Favorite team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers