Since Coach Lynn Humphrey took over the golf program in the mid-90’s, she’s had brothers, sisters, even twins, but never what she’s encountered this season.
The Boys Golf program currently features three different sets of brothers as the Lucas’ (senior Daniel and freshman James), Lamar’s (freshman William and 6th-grader Thomas), and King’s (senior Robert, and sophomore twins Manning and McLain) are all competing for the Highlanders this spring. To say that the teammates are close is certainly an understatement.
Daniel Lucas and Robert King join Rox Pollard as the senior leaders on this year’s team but have embraced the concept of leading by example well before this season. “I try to take what I’ve learned and pass it down,” Lucas said. “I think (James) will be able to take a lot away from what seeing what I’ve done and how, and it’s just more special that we did it together.”
For King, the golf dynamic is the perfect sport for the camaraderie and competitiveness that exists between the three. “For us, we’ve always been competitive. Whether it was playing football or basketball at home, we always wanted each other to play well, but wanted to win in everything. We help each other -- which is cool, but it’s an added aspect being able to live with two of your teammates.”
For freshman William Lamar, being of the younger members of the team hasn’t taken anything away from his experience as the older brother. “Thomas is going to be a much better golfer than I am, but I try to set a good example with how I do things. We’ve grown up playing together on the course, so we both ask each other a lot of questions about our swings and can help each other out.”
Being the younger brothers of an older teammate can be a challenging endeavor. Often times, athletes can feel the pressure of having the “live up” to the expectations of their brothers’ careers, but for this group, the positives have outweighed any potential negatives.
“We’re very close,” Manning King shared. “We’re around each other so much, it’s weird when we’re not together. So, whether we’re at practice or a game, we’re comfortable.”
“There will be moments on the course where Manning or Robert will do something good, and I’ll just look at them and nod, and I can see them excited. It’s a huge bonus having each other on the course, because we all want each other to do well.” McLain King added.
For James Lucas, it’s been more than just the interaction on the course. “On the way home from matches is nice to be able talk about shots, and really just to ride home together in general.” The Lucas brothers are no strangers to togetherness, as James mentioned that Daniel has been a part of every team he’s joined. That bond has helped propel a group with a strong mix of youth and experience to a current second-place standing in region play.
6th grader Thomas Lamar is perhaps the youngest member of the golf program, paired with what may be the highest ceiling in terms of golfing ability. Of the three sets of brothers, he is also the only one who does not share the same campus building as his brother, so their time together on the course replaces what may be lost during the day. “He’s my brother and we do a lot together. I look up to him, and he’s the first person I go to when I have questions,” Thomas adds. Even in their actions, you can see the bond between the Lamar boys. As they entered a room on a Friday afternoon, the brothers, donning matching gray HH polos and khaki shorts, shared the same stance and spoke with the same tone, with younger brother Thomas looking to older brother William after answers, always getting a smiling look of pride in return.
As the season progresses towards its conclusion, the team will prepare for a run at a State Championship at the SCISA Golf Competition at the Hackler Course in Conway. The final round will see not only the completion of the season, but the beginning of a dynamic shift. Robert King is Clemson-bound in the fall, while Daniel Lucas will join the golf team at Columbia International. Two households accustomed to the family bond of brotherhood will see slight separation, but all are confident that the bond will go unbroken.
“I think it’ll be a big change, because he’s not only my ride home, but he’s been on every team I’ve ever played on. It’ll take some getting used to,” James Lucas shared. Daniel knows that James will be prepared for the change. “The competition between the two of us is interesting, he’s continuing to progress and will be a lot better than I was when he’s done playing here. He may get an opportunity to play collegiate golf, and take advantage of that, but I think he’ll definitely blaze his own trail.”
Robert King knows the twins will have an adjustment period but won’t be completely removed from their interactions. “At home, they’re going to lose a lot of stuff. They usually count on me to make sure things are set and that messages from our parents get to them.
We’ll still be in touch, because we’re all very close. I have other friends who aren’t as close to their brothers, but we’re always going to be friends. I’ll definitely miss them a lot, but I won’t be too far away.”
Manning & McLain are apart often, but they know the difference of moving from three to two at home will bring change. “Robert will go out with his other friends, spend the day with his buddies, so it’s not too unnatural for us to be doing different things. But we are together a lot, and it will be different not having him there to really push us,” McLain says.
For Manning, the biggest difference will be in the competition aspect. “McLain and I, being twins, always compete. But Robert is always right there with us. No matter what, we want to beat him. So, when we’re on the course together now, we want to beat him, but also want him to do really well.
Regardless of how the season ends, these families will share that unique opportunity to have been together, creating memories that will last a lifetime. But before the moments turn to memories, there’s the every going competition aspect. For Daniel Lucas, he knows that the team is headed in the right direction. “Seeing the guys that are with us now, with the young guys coming up, the future is definitely bright. They’ll know how to work together and do something special.”
Until then, the King brothers have unfinished business. The night before a weekend round between the three, all were asked who the favorite to win was:
McLain: “Me. Easily.”
It’s fair to say that the win will stay in the family.