Boys golfer of the year: Valparaiso’s Kyle Meihofer
Kyle Meihofer is fearless.
“He plays golf like a middle linebacker,” Valparaiso coach Wayne Lichtenberger, who doubles as football coach, said.
Consider this sequence at the state finals at the Legends of Indiana Golf Course.
On No. 9, after pushing his 4-iron into the cornfield and out of bounds on the short par-4, a clearly exasperated Meihofer gathered himself, hit another 4-iron, this one on the line that he originally intended, leaving a wedge into the hole.
He flipped it up to around 10 feet from the hole and made the putt for bogey.
That was just one of several Houdini acts that Meihofer, the Post-Tribune Golfer of the Year, pulled off in his last high school round.
On No. 6, a 539-yard par-5, Meihofer pushed his drive into the deep heather. He appeared to compound the mistake when he tried to carry a dry creek on his second shot and it landed in another spot of heather. This time, Meihofer took an unplayable lie, walked back to a comfortable yardage of about 200 and rifled a shot to within three feet of the cup. A bogey or possibly a double bogey became a par. He was out of a jam again.
Meihofer’s aggressiveness was his biggest strength. It was also the reason he would occasionally take a big number.
“He’s a tough little kid,” Lichtenberger said.
Tough enough to win the golfer of the year award twice, nipping his buddy, Bobby Jacobs, who beat him by less than half a stroke in Duneland Athletic Conference play.
Meihofer didn’t have the quintessential golf pedigree. He played mostly at Forest Park in Valparaiso and Lichtenberger didn’t know who he was until he introduced himself.
He is only 5-8, and before he was even in high school he came to Lichtenberger, who taught him in middle school, and told him he was going to play for the team.
Lichtenberger, who has coached since 1989, wasn’t quite sure what to think.
“He was just a tiny little thing,” he said. “It was like, maybe if he grows, he could have a chance.”
Meihofer is still on the smallish side, but he can whip a club through the ball as fast anyone around.
On the final day of the state finals, he consistently outdrove his nearest competitor by around 15 yards.
Lichtenberger said he has really worked hard at getting stronger and generally better at golf
He was tied for the lead after the first day at state before faltering with a 75.
But he finished his high school career in typical Meihofer style, taking as little time as possible over a 40-foot putt and ramming it home for birdie.