CARROLL - With his cap pushed back and quick to flash a toothy smile, Logan Lockwood seems right off the canvas of a Norman Rockwell painting, an all-American boy. His dream is to become a great golfer and he is well on his way at age 17.
Known through the years for its basketball success, Van High School has a top golfer who is loyal to his school's signature sport. In the winter months, Lockwood is a shooting guard for the Vandals. But even during basketball season, weekends find Lockwood on the fairways and greens of Garden Valley Golf Club near his home.
An indicator of just how good Lockwood can play was during the Vandals regional golf tournament last spring at Van Zandt Country Club in Canton, not an easy course. Lockwood fired consecutive rounds of 67, 5 under par, to win individual honors by six strokes. In golfing parlance, he is not afraid to go low.
"I try not to get mad if I hit a bad shot and just shake it off and move on," Lockwood said. "When I got off to a good start at regionals, I just tried to keep my focus and tell myself there is still a ways to go and play it shot by shot."
Low rounds are not new to Lockwood as he has toured his home course, Garden Valley Golf Course, in rounds of 62 and 63. Garden Valley, like Van Zandt, is not an easy course so these are impressive rounds for the 17-year-old senior.
"I just started playing really good this past year," Lockwood said. "I worked hard on my short game, especially my putting, and it seems to be paying off."
Lockwood's most recent success was at the end of summer Northern Texas PGA Junior Championship at Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas. Lockwood was the winner of his age division and overall winner with rounds of 70 and 74. His second round was one that started off a little rocky with three bogeys in the first seven holes followed by a birdie and then 10 pars to take home the win.
When told those 10 pars were "Faldoesque," Lockwood wore a puzzled look. Like most 17-year-olds, he was open to a quick history lesson in golf. Nick Faldo, he was told, once won the British Open with a final round of 18 pars.
Lockwood soaked up another history lesson during his first appearance this past June at the Texas-Oklahoma Junior in Wichita Falls. Now called the T-O Classic, the junior tournament has been around since the early 1960s and has been won by the likes of Ben Crenshaw through the years.
For his first round at Wichita Falls Country Club, Lockwood was paired with Parker Coody of Plano who had a famous caddy - his grandfather Charles Coody of Abilene.
"Someone told us on the first tee that Parker's caddy won the Masters," Lockwood said. "I didn't believe it at first so my friend Rye Redmond who was caddying for me went over to my dad and asked him to look it up. Dad confirmed it and I was shocked."
Later, Coody, the 1971 Masters champion, visited with Lockwood to make sure he had a swing coach. He mentioned to Lockwood that there was a good teacher in Longview, Roy Pace, just in case he wanted to get some instruction. But Lockwood is comfortable in the hands of his current coach, Dave Roberson, a retired golf professional. It is an accepted principle in golf to stick with one coach to keep things uncomplicated.
Lockwood finished the 2015 T-O Classic with a 72-hole total of 292, 4 over par, which was good enough for fifth place. He plans to return for another crack at the title in 2016 since the tournament is open to junior age 18 and under.
Perhaps Lockwood's best golfing attribute is his easy going nature and calm demeanor. He is what some would describe as a "flat liner," meaning that he doesn't get too high or get too low and in golf that is a great asset.
Watching him play his ninth hole at the tournament at Brookhaven was his mother Kelly, a choir teacher at Van. She was asked if Logan has an even-tempered disposition since he appears that way while on the course.
"Oh yes, he has always been that way," she said.
An even keel temperament is always a plus in golf where good and bad fortune await the competitor on every shot during a four-hour round. Some think the mental side, the disposition, as important or more important that the physical skill. A classic example is Dallas' Jordan Spieth who has stormed to the top of the game in less than three years. While physically talented, Spieth seems to excel because of a strong mind and a steely grit borne of a heart for competition.
"I really like him," Lockwood said of Spieth. "And I've liked to watch Bubba Watson because of the way he works the ball."
Before Spieth and Watson, and still to some extent, Lockwood looks up to Tiger Woods and his impact on the sport. Now apparently past his prime, Woods still could generate excitement with his comeback bid to challenge the young stars like Spieth, Watson, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.
Fowler might be the young player that Lockwood brings to mind because of his bushy black hair and dark complexion. But Lockwood is bigger than Fowler and uses his 5-10 and 170 pounds to hit drives consistently in the range of 290 to 300 yards. He has a swing coach to help him improve his technique but like Crenshaw back in the day, likes to play a lot and in his own style.
After his red-hot regional showing, Lockwood finished fourth at the state tournament in Austin at Onion Creek Country Club. He started with three straight birdies but cooled to a 73 the opening round followed by a 77 in windy conditions the next day that left three off the winning total.
"I wanted to get back to state this year," Logan said when asked about goals for his senior season. "But mainly I just want to keep getting better. I am excited about playing golf."
Pat Wheeler, a former Tylerite who played golf at Robert E. Lee High School and SMU, is a golf correspondent for the Tyler Morning Telegraph and ETFinalScore.com.