It's more than just a game for Eric Locke of the Holland College Hurricanes
Eric Locke chips out of the sand while practising Tuesday at the Fox Golf Academy in Stratford.
Special to The Courier
As a kid, Eric Locke was a multi-sport athlete who played both hockey and baseball.
But a strong influence from his grandfather introduced Locke to the sport of golf, and that helped make him the man he is today.
"I started golfing when I was 11. My grandfather wanted to show me a sport that taught me patience and respect," said the 20-year-old Locke.
Sure, many up and coming golfers look up to, or try to emulate, a superstar like Tiger Woods. But for the Digby, N.S., native, golf was something more than just a sport he could excel at, it was a lifestyle, and a way for him to connect with his family.
"My grandfather and I have always been close, and golf was something that brought us closer again. My grandfather was the one who took me to tournaments as a kid, always took me to wherever I needed to go and he and my grandmother paid for my membership fees each year until I started working."
Locke excelled at all levels of his golfing career, setting several varsity program records during the Holland College qualifiers in each of the past two seasons, all while leading the Hurricanes to a berth at the national golf championship in Quebec last season.
"Eric's the best and most accomplished player to ever play for the Hurricanes. His understanding of the game is unsurpassed by any college player I have seen," said Jeff Donovan, head coach of the Hurricanes varsity golf program.
But it wasn't all glamour and success for Locke.
From 2010 to 2011, his game was in a bad place.
"I hated golfing and would find any excuse I could not to play or practise. It just wasn't fun anymore."
Locke had just finished high school and was presented with scholarship opportunities from southern schools like Florida, Mississippi State and the University of North Florida. Locke verbally agreed to UNF before taking a year off to discover himself, and his game.
"During my year off after high school, I found a new way to look at things and it all started to click for me. I loved playing again and I knew I wanted to be around the game."
Moving 1,585 miles to Jacksonville didn't interest him. That's when his assistant professional showed him the program at Holland College. He applied right away.
"I feel comfortable with my surroundings here at Holland College and in P.E.I., the courses are amazing and my game is suited well here."
Now the second year golf management student will lead a group 15 players as they compete for their eighth consecutive ACAA title and a chance to compete in nationals.
But, despite all his success, his greatest achievement isn't even one of his own, but one he shares with family.
"This summer my father and I played in the NSGA Family Classic. We came second, one behind the winner at three under. It was his first tournament he'd ever played and I've never seen him have more fun."