Golf becoming passion for Riner youngster

Photo by Marty Gordon
10-year-old Jake Albert (right) takes a few practice swings Thursday on the putting green at Auburn Hills Golf Course while his grandfather, Bob Pierson, looks on.

Jake Albert was just three years old when his grandfather, Bob Pierson, handed him a golf club. Since then, he has shown to be a natural on the course.

“He saw his older brother and sister hitting golf balls and just took a club and started playing,” said Pierson. “He was good at it from the start. I would pick him up at daycare, get a small bucket of balls and let him hit away”

His grandfather said Albert has had little coaching; instead, the youngster enjoys practicing and developing his golf game on a daily basis.

“We’ve played a lot of golf, and he was beating me at the age of five. Now forget it, I can’t beat him,” Pierson joked.

This summer, Albert played on the Blue Ridge Youth Golf tour for the first time and was consistently beating other players two to three years older than him. His outstanding play during monthly golf tournaments earned him the tour’s title of the 2017 10-12 year old age group golfer of the year.

Thursday, he was showing off his skills during a round of golf at his home course, Auburn Hills.

His grandfather took to the putting green to watch his up-and-coming golfer of a grandson.

Pierson and Brian Harrell have caddied for Albert over the past few years, and have seen nothing but improvement.

“He’s pretty good at it, and if he continues to play and get better, college golf is definitely in his future,” Harrell said.

Of course, Albert is not thinking that far down the road, as he’s only a rising fifth grader at Auburn Elementary School.

Recently he took part in golf’s version of Punt, Pass and Kick—“Drive, Chip and Putt,” taking second place in his age group. That will allow him to participate in a regional competition next month, and another good finish means he would play in a national competition at the Pinehurst Golf Course sometime next year.

“I think he will do well and have a shot at the national event,” Harrell said.

Albert was busy moving clubs to a new golf bag on Thursday that had his name embroidered on it. His eyes lit up as he moved items from one bag to another.

Pierson said he planned to add the older bag to a collection of mementoes from his grandson’s adventure.

Albert has been driving balls 190 to 215 yards over the past few months, and Thursday was no exception. He did get frustrated at himself when the ball didn’t travel as far as he expected.

“Yes, he has those moments when he gets mad at himself. He will have to learn some anger management,” Pierson said.

The key, according to Harrell, is that Albert has a passion for the game, something he hopes his grandson won’t lose.

In addition to golf, he also plays basketball and baseball, having completed recently a season with the Montgomery County All-Stars that lost earlier in the week at state tournament play.

His best round of golf was a 36 at Fountain Springs, but he shakes his head saying he can do better.

Pierson’s eyes light up when you mention another outstanding golfer that also got his start at a young age. But, he isn’t ready to coronate him the next Tiger Woods.

The 10-year-old is also a good student, bringing home A’s and B’s on a regular basis. Albert calls the game of golf fun and enjoys playing almost every day.

He doesn’t know what he wants out of his golf future, rather he’s just thinking about the next long drive and maybe what’s for lunch.