After twins Madison and Benjamin Lake qualified for the UIL state tournament with the Victoria East High School golf team last season, one would never guess the two began playing as freshmen.
But that wasn't all they accomplished.
The two seniors recently qualified for the season-ending South Texas PGA Prestige Tour Junior Championship on Nov. 13-14 at The Wilderness Golf Club in Lake Jackson.
Benjamin qualified by earning performance points during the season, finishing in the top 10 of over 40 qualifiers. Madison earned an exemption to the tournament by winning her division at the College Station Junior Championship.
"To be able to go play and qualify with Ben in a tournament is great," Madison said. "I haven't played in that many tournaments after an injury in the summer, so it's good to be able to go play."
The twins didn't take long to adapt to the game. After Madison and Benjamin were encouraged to play golf by their dad, Bruce, the two knew they found a passion for the sport.
"Our dad got us into it at first," Madison said. "Coming into high school, my dad pushed us towards golf and he's kind of the reason we are where we are now. I haven't played as long as most players and it took a lot of work and time on the course. Golf isn't something you get good at overnight."
After shooting 73 at the Club Championship his sophomore year, Benjamin knew his game was beginning to improve.
"I really started improving my sophomore year," Benjamin said. "After playing at the Club Championship at Colony, I knew I could play. I knew I could improve to mid-70s, so all of my junior year I was shooting in the mid-70s, and at the end of last year, I shot 69 and qualified for state. That was really the turning point, I was able to shoot better and be more consistent."
East girls coach Mike Smith, who has coached Madison since her freshman season, was in awe of the senior's quick development.
"Madison has really developed into an outstanding player," Smith said. "She's really committed and it's been a joy to coach her. Most of our good players start in fifth or sixth grade, and it's truly been amazing to see her start that late and become this good. It's just a testament to her dedication and all of her hard work."
For Benjamin, his leadership hasn't just taken a toll on his teammates. East boys coach Troy McIntosh has seen Benjamin turn into a leader on and off the course.
"The time has gone by really fast, but it's been a lot of fun coaching him and watching him turn from a boy into a young man these past four years," McIntosh said. "He's always doing the best he possibly can since he's been in golf. It's been a real joy to watch him make a jump last year and be rewarded for qualifying in the state tournament."
"McIntosh is McIntosh," Benjamin added with a smile. "He tries to make the team close together. His main goal isn't just to make us great golfers, but make us great people. He tries to teach us life lessons that hopefully we don't forget."
As the twins prepare for the Prestige Tour Junior Championship, their mindset is the same as any other tournament.
"I'm trying to mentally prepare just like other tournaments," Madison said. "I just need to play how I know I can play and not worry about anything else."
"I think her mental maturity and how she has grown so much with her experience on the golf course has helped her make better decisions," Smith added. "She's really developed into a complete player."
Benjamin, who plans on attending Texas State next year, wants other golfers at East to follow in his footsteps.
"I want to be remembered at East for future Titan golf to know that I started as a freshman," Benjamin said. "I worked hard and I got good. I want the future Titans to know that any in sport, you can start as a freshman and if you try your hardest, nothing can stop you."
Madison, who plans to attend Texas A&M-Kingsville next year, wants others to remember her as someone who never gave up.
"I just want other girls who play to know that you don't have to start playing when you're four or five and have the best equipment," Madison said. "You just have to have the drive and put in the work to get better."
This article was written by Rey Castillo from Victoria Advocate, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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