Boys Golf: Lyons’ Hudson brothers making their mark
When Barbara Hudson, the mother of three golfing brothers from Lyons, invited me to play a few holes at their country club, it was too hard to pass up the offer.
The Hudson brothers from Western Springs are each having their own breakout seasons this summer playing golf.
The brothers rarely play together in the same tournament. It happened Saturday for just the third time this summer at the Illinois Junior Golf Association’s 32nd Chick Evans Junior Amateur qualifier at Green Garden Country Club in Frankfort.
The Chick Evans tournament, one of the IJGA’s biggest of the summer, begins July 23 at Itasca Country Club. It is also the organization’s most grueling tournament with 36 holes of stroke play followed by five rounds of match play ending with the championship on July 27.
At Green Garden, all three brothers qualified for the Chick Evans tournament, though it was close. The youngest brother, sophomore Jonathan, earned the final berth and 25th slot in the field of 61 by winning a one-hole playoff over Plainfield’s Jason Chobar and Lake Barrington’s Robert Renner. All three players shot a 3-over-par 75 to force the playoff.
Jonathan’s older brothers, Daniel and Ryan, fared much better. Daniel, a junior, tied for third with a 70 to finish one shot behind Naperville’s Nick Rouches and Mokena’s Matt Contey. Ryan, a senior, tied for 12th. Ryan and Nazareth senior Jay Karas of Western Springs each shot matching 73s to qualify.
The three brothers have different personalities, but all started playing the same sports when they were younger: baseball and basketball, and only Jonathan never played soccer. Their father, Scott, played golf at Arizona State University while in college. Scott is a CEO for an Itasca-based insurance company.
The family became one of the first members of the Chicago Highlands Country Club in Westchester. The club bills itself as the “first family country club built in the near western suburbs in over 80 years.” Jonathan said he remembered going on a tour of the under-construction club after playing in an 11-year-old All Star youth baseball game.
Jonathan played center field for the first time for Lyons’ freshman baseball team in the spring after playing in the infield in youth baseball. But with golf taking on a bigger priority, Jonathan isn’t sure if he’ll play next season.
“In the early stages of the club, the golf course was never full enough. They came to play any hour of the day. The practice facility is outstanding and we’re five minutes from their home,” Chicago Highlands head professional Jeffrey A. Perdew said. “There are no restrictions. Juniors and spouses can play. We are as junior-friendly as you can get anywhere. [The brothers] live here.”
As they became regular club members, the Hudson brothers also became better golfers.
“It’s an individual sport,” Ryan said. “In some ways I think the pressure is off. In other ways, it teaches you more on how to be disciplined with yourself in practice.”
On my visit to Chicago Highlands, Jonathan just arrived from an IJGA tournament at Cog Hill. Ryan was on the practice green and we caught up with Dan on the No. 2 fairway. We finished that hole and then went on to No. 3 where Dan immediately walked to the farthest black tee, turning a par-4, 362-yard hole into 389 yards. His drive from the black matched mine from the blue, but his shot landed in high grass to right of the hole. Both of us were 125 yards from the green.
All three brothers played in the 43rd State Junior Amateur June 26-28 at Makray Memorial Golf Club, but Jonathan missed the cut. Ryan tied for 11th and Dan tied for 42nd. In the final round, the brothers played in the same group with Mount Prospect resident Derek Leeney in a rare feat for the family.
“I like to do stuff on my own,” Jonathan said. “I like to teach myself. I tend not to listen to coaches.”
When Scott Hudson sought out a sports psychologist for Ryan and Dan, the two brothers began working with Michael Riggs of Cantigny Golf Academy in Wheaton. After meeting the older brothers through Riggs, Cantigny’s Director of Instruction Connie DeMattia became the two older brothers’ offseason instructor. During the winter, Ryan and Dan take advantage of Cantigny’s heated hitting stations and video studios through DeMattia’s instruction. During the summer, DeMattia prefers to remain hands off and let Ryan and Dan play.
“When I first met Ryan, he was not sure about pursuing golf after high school,” DeMattia said. “He was much more academic-minded. Dan eats, sleeps and drinks golf. His heart is set on playing on the PGA Tour. He does everything in his capacity to succeed.”
“I like the diversity,” Dan said. “You never play the same course [the same way] and you never play the same hole and the same shot.”
Ryan would like to play in college, but is otherwise undecided about particular schools. Based on a recommendation by Perdew, he has gone to a cross-handed putting style for the past four months.
“They are all fun to be around,” Perdew said.
Jonathan’s success this season is raising the possibility of having three brothers play for Lyons’ varsity squad this season. Class 3A state runner-up Lyons has four of six returnees back, including state runner-up Charlie Netzel.
“It would be interesting,” Dan said of having Jonathan on the team.
“It will be fun, but it will depend on the team,” Ryan said. “We won’t have many underclassmen, but it will be fun with younger guys.”
Lyons coach Brian Kopecky didn’t get to see Jonathan many times last season, but the sophomore scored the lowest round of the day, a 72, at a Lyons team tournament in June. Ryan is entering his third varsity season while Dan will play in his second.
“It will be a good situation to have,” Kopecky said, “but they will have to compete.”
This week, Ryan and Dan head to Hartland, Wis., to play in an American Junior Golf Association event. Jonathan will play starting Wednesday in the IJGA-Chicago District Golf Association Junior Amateur at Mill Creek in Geneva.