Young Plum golfer Wes Lorish making his mark
Ron Lucas is a PGA professional who has been involved in the golf business for more than 40 years.
He's seen many promising young players over the years, including Tom Watson and Greg Norman before they made it big.
None have impressed Lucas as much as Wes Lorish, who Lucas calls “far and away the best prospect I've seen.”
Not bad for someone who first picked up a golf club only four years ago. Even more impressive is the fact that Wes, a Plum resident, is just 7 years old.
“For his age, he's well advanced,” said Lucas, who coaches and mentors Wes as part of his job as director of the Pittsburgh district of the U.S. Golf Local League. “The young man definitely has a future ahead of him. He's going to be a star some day.”
Wes, who will be a second-grader at Pivik Elementary, is one of six Pittsburgh junior golfers who have qualified for the 2014 USGLL National Championship, which will be held Aug. 4-7 at the Traditions at the Glen Golf Course and Resort in Johnson City, New York.
Among the six players Lucas will take to New York will be two each from three age groups: 8-10, 11-12 and 13-14. Although Wes is only 7, he'll play in the 8-10 division.
“Players come from all over the country. It's similar to Williamsport and the Little League championships,” Lucas said. “We went up there last year, and our team won the TRI Award, which stands for Teamwork, Respect and Integrity. It was a great experience for everyone involved, so we decided to go back this year.
“Wes will be a great representative of Pittsburgh.”
Their son's golf talent has come as a surprise to his parents, John and Melissa Lorish.
“My husband plays golf, but he's not a big-time golfer. He just plays casually,” said Melissa. “When my son was 3 he just picked up a club and started playing. He's got some kind of natural talent, we've been told by a bunch of people.”
His swing came naturally, without coaching or instruction.
“Ron (Lucas) said you really can't do lessons with Wes,” Melissa said. “Because his swing is so good you don't want to mess with it.”
Wes participated in a golf camp in Murrysville last summer. One of the instructors came away so impressed with Wes that he spoke to his parents afterwards.
“He told us we needed to be doing more with him,” Melissa said. “He said his swing is unbelievable, and what he's doing is so advanced for his age. He actually got us in contact with Ron Lucas.”
Lucas got Wes involved with the USGLL junior program, a national organization which teaches the game to kids age 6-18. There are eight USGLL teams in the Pittsburgh area that compete against each other in a team match-play format. It was his performance in those matches that earned Wes a spot in the USGLL national tournament.
“I saw Wes's talent right away. He's a lefty, and you don't see many of those,” Lucas said. “He has a lot of natural golf abilities. I've been helping him with his golf fundamentals. He's going to have some nice opportunities down the road.”
Wes excels at all aspects of the game. He regularly outplays bigger, older competitors and is a standout when his team conducts skills competitions at practice sessions.
“Wes has a well-rounded game. And he definitely has no fear,” Lucas said. “He has the mental game, the drive, the personality and the demeanor — that's all part of it.”
From the time he started at the age of 3, Wes has been crazy about golf.
“He absolutely loves it. He's obsessed with it,” Melissa said.
“I have to yell at him all the time to quit hitting divots in the carpet.
“You wouldn't think a little kid would be so into golf with the attention span and all that. Our neighbors are always telling us about how he practices outside for hours.”
Wes also played youth baseball in Plum but has given it up to focus on golf.
“It was hard this past season doing baseball and golf together,” Melissa said. “He loves baseball, but he's a little bit better at golf.”
Lucas, who coached college golf at Robert Morris University, believes Wes has a bright future in the game.
“He's definitely ahead of his time, no doubt about it,” Lucas said. “He's going to have a lot of opportunities for whatever he wants to do.”
While many young golfers idolize Tiger Woods, Wes looks up to another professional golfer, a fellow left-hander.
“Bubba Watson's his hero,” Melissa said. “He thinks Bubba's the best.”
Wes hopes to someday play on the PGA Tour, like Bubba.
“Wes has big dreams,” said his mom. “He's thinking he's going to be a professional golfer some day. We're not ones to keep pushing him. Right now, he loves it.”
Dave Schrecengost is a freelance writer.