Dain Richie excelled in basketball and golf during his career at New Berlin High School, but he prefers the latter.
“I think I prefer golf. There’s something different about it,” Richie said. “Don’t get me wrong, I do like being in the basketball gym, but I like golf a lot, and I think that’s definitely my number one sport.”
That number one sport is on Richie’s mind as he joins the reigning national golf championship team at Parkland College in Champaign this fall. The junior college recruited the 18-year-old Richie.
“I’ve decided to go in there and try to hold up that high standard of excellence, and just have a good fall and spring,” Richie said.
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Richie is The State Journal-Register’s Small School Boys Golfer of the Year. He played golf for South County, which featured a combination of players from New Berlin, Franklin and Waverly high schools.
“I had a really good year in the fall. I broke the school record that I had previously broken last year, the nine-hole average of 33.9,” Richie said. “I broke the 18-hole record at Greenview, I got second at sectionals, third at regionals, it was a lot of fun.”
Richie was able to improve his wedge game this year, which helped him to make more birdies and pars whenever he landed within 50 yards of the hole.
“When I’m playing well my mindset is, when can I make my next birdie,” Richie said. “Let’s keep this one close, make a putt, get up and down, it’s go-go-go. I think that’s what I need to work on most when I’m not playing my best, is to have that mindset.”
Blake Lucas coached Richie on the New Berlin High School basketball team, and he saw strengths in the young man on the court that transferred well to the links.
“He leads by example, he’s a quiet, humble kid but he can also be vocal,” Lucas said. “We all know that golf is not an easy game, you have to be both physically and mentally prepared. Dain’s got the physical gifts but it’s the mental approach that probably separates him from others.”
“Dain is an outstanding young man and he comes from a great family,” Lucas said. “He’s just a hard-working young kid, and I think anyone who is around him knows that you have to step up your game.”
Richie’s example had other players on the team seeking him out for advice on swing techniques and other fundamentals that the team members sought to improve. Richie relished his role as the team’s frontrunner, and is pleased that so many young people are taking up some serious golf.
His advice to those coming up through the ranks is to work hard, but be patient.
“It’s a long journey, you’re not going to get results all at once. I’m still learning that even today,” Richie said. “I also tell them to play as many tournaments as possible from a young age. Get yourself in a tournament mindset, and try to have a lot of fun.”
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