PEARCY -- Lake Hamilton's Jack Higginbotham signed his letter of intent to play golf at Central Baptist University this fall during the Wolves' signing day ceremony at Wolf Arena Wednesday.
"I'm thrilled," he said. "You know, I've had a lot of opportunities to go visit a ton of colleges, but really Coach (Lyle) Middleton stuck out to me. We had a really good talk about playing and about where I would sit on the team if I came as a freshman. And, you know, that's how I really made my decision."
Higginbotham has played golf for most of his life. He notes that his family has a long history in the game, as both his mother -- Lake Hamilton head golf coach Brandi Higginbotham -- and his grandfather always played a lot.
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"My grandpa and my mom played, and I really only got serious about two years ago. But I've always loved the sport," he said.
Brandi Higginbotham said she realizes being coached by one's own mother is not easy.
"That's not the ideal situation to come into the golf team," she said. "So it was a challenge for both of us, especially when he was a ninth grader. And thankfully maturity happens, so he's come a long way."
Playing in the Class 5A state tournament his freshman year provided a spark that helped him focus more of his attention to the game. His mother said that although he has played for quite awhile, this past year was when he got serious about it and began to make real gains.
"He actually went to the Arkansas State Junior Golf Association tournament and won a match play tournament," she said. "That's kind of where you go one on one against somebody for up to 18 holes. So that was a pretty big achievement this summer.
"(He) finally dropped into the 70s. Breaking 80's a pretty big deal in golf, so getting down into the 70s, and then he got one of the three spots that are offered as an individual in the golf state tournament. In the boys, if you don't make it as a team, there's only three individuals that make it, and we got two out of those three. So that was a pretty big achievement to get to play in that."
Jack Higginbotham said the support he has received from his family, friends, and coaches has helped prepare him for the next level.
"Well, obviously, my mom's the coach, but to help prepare me for college, we've been scheduled for a lot of tournaments," he said. "They also encourage you to play outside of the season. So like summer tournaments and spring tournaments... we're encouraged to play year around and not just within the practices and at school events."
The practice paid off, his mother said.
"Kind of the opposite of fighting burnout... really getting fired up. And I think that this is going to be, he's got a chance to get a lot better in college probably than in high school, even though there were a lot of gains in high school. ... I'm really, really proud of him and look forward to see how he does this next fall and spring at the college level."