Luke Kluver: One Step at a Time
Throughout my life, I’ve gathered a circle of people around me that I wholeheartedly trust. These are the people that genuinely want me to get to the next level, and they’re willing to do everything it takes to help me get there.
That includes my current coaches and teammates at Kansas and all the coaches and teammates I’ve been lucky enough to work with before I arrived at KU. They are all invested in my success, and they’re eager to help me get to where I want to go.
But even with their help and support, I have to want it more than anyone else — just like the CEO of a company has to lead by example and dictate the direction, I have to take ownership of my golf career.
And trust me, nobody wants it more than I do. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be on the PGA Tour.
That dream hasn’t changed.
The Gopher Invitational
This dream is also what made me join the University of Kansas.
It was the best spot for me to continue to improve and get to the next level—in many ways, a stepping stone to make it as a professional golfer.
When you decide where you want to play college golf, you need to feel comfortable and confident that the coaching there will help you get to the next level. Here at Kansas, that is 100 percent the situation.
Coach (Jamie) Bermel has helped a lot of players get to the next level and has tons of experience. He has seen good golf, he’s seen bad golf, and he knows to manage us. He knows how to keep you locked into a round. Coach (Chris) Wilson works harder than any coach I’ve ever been around. He has that players coach type of relationship that you want to have. He totally buys into all of us on the team.
Earlier this month at the Gopher Invitational, the three of us and all of my teammates here at Kansas had a really fun couple of days. Our team earned co-championship honors with Notre Dame, and I was able to win the tournament for my first collegiate win.
And I’ll tell you, it’s really been a long time coming. It’s just hard to win at this level when everyone is so good.
There are some weeks when your ball striking and driving is really good, and you just don’t make enough putts—and vice versa. But through everything, I forced myself to trust in the process and go about my business with the people that helped get me to this point.
Going into the middle of the final round, I looked at the leaderboard on the ninth hole and saw that I was three shots behind. So, I had ten holes to make up three shots!
It was a gut-check moment where you’re reminded of the journey, and then you quickly remember you have a job to do. I got on a back-nine birdie run that propelled the rest of the round.
And just like that, I got my first win.
The thing I enjoyed most about that victory was my parents being there. I have such a great support system at home, and they have been there for me every step of the way. All of the practices, competitions, and those summers traveling to events as a kid—I can’t thank them enough.
Adding to that was the fact that our team was co-champions. Our coaches always say that you either win or you gain more experience. It was great to get that first team win in my time here and have that moment to enjoy together. It gives us a bunch of confidence going forward that we’ve been in this situation before, and next time we want to play well enough to win outright.
The little things
To be a PGA Tour player, you have to learn to win at every level.
But even after a win like mine, nothing really changes for me other than the fact that I have experience winning a golf tournament. It’s back to the drawing board and thinking of more ways to improve my game and finding ways to continue to learn from my coaches.
Now is not the time to get complacent.
I’d love to continue to test myself at more professional events. I’ve played at the Korn Ferry Tour, which is basically like the G League of the PGA Tour. But believe me when I tell you those guys are just as good.
I also got a taste of a PGA Tour event at the John Deere Classic back in July. Just having the opportunity to compete against professionals gives you a chance to evaluate your own game at the highest level.
You see, the thing about golf is, there are so many guys that can play every single shot you can think of. Maybe pro players don’t swing as hard or perform better under pressure, but either way, something obviously separates them from the rest.
Are they mentally better than you are at this point? Do they have a better process week in and week out? Is their diet better than yours?
It doesn’t always have to be something big that separates the two.
Sometimes it’s the little things, especially in a sport like golf where every shot matters, that makes all of the difference.
For me, the quest to perfect the little things continues each tournament. I can’t wait to keep going.