In the swing of things
Bruins senior maintains lofty goals on the golf course
By Mike Beas
Some of Taylor Gardner’s earliest and fondest recollections unfold on a nine-hole golf course in Houghton, Mich., a city of just under 8,000 residents in the state’s upper peninsula.
It’s Gardner at age 3 or 4 learning the game’s basics from his maternal grandfather Jim Jukuri. As Gardner grew older, his father Derek carried on what Jukuri started by building a foundation for what eventually blossomed into an impressive high school career at Tri-West.
A career that’s not yet over.
Gardner, a Bruins senior who tied for 46th-place at the state meet in Carmel last spring, looks forward to the upcoming season.
“I love that with golf it’s played outside, and I’ve made a lot of close friends playing it,” said Gardner. “My main goal is to be all-state this season (top 15 at the state meet at Prairie View Golf Course in Carmel) just because I think that’s a very elite spot to be in.”
The Gardner family eventually moved from Michigan’s northern reaches to Peru, Ind., where they remained through Taylor’s ninth-grade school year. He played for the Tigers as a freshman, leading them to runner-up status at the Peru sectional by carding a score of 83 as the team’s No. 1 player.
He’s been shouldering the same responsibility at Tri-West since his sophomore golf season. Gardner advanced to the Washington regional as an individual during the 2018 season and was medalist at the Martinsville sectional last spring with an 18-hole score of 70.
The following week, he demonstrated a flair for the dramatic, finishing strong at regional to secure a berth in the state meet.
A lean 6-foot-4-inches, Gardner is perfectly built for basketball as well. He finished this past hoops season as the leading scorer for Tri-West’s boys squad at 16.1 points per game. Golf, however, is his future. Gardner, who carries a 3.7 grade-point average, will play for the IUPUI men’s golf program and is leaning toward majoring in business management.
Tri-West boys golf coach Tom Pemberton again looks forward to having Gardner at the top of his lineup.
“Taylor’s success in golf is due to a couple of things,” said Pemberton. “First, he is an absolute competitor at whatever he’s doing. Whether on the basketball court or on the golf course, he’s there to win and puts a lot of pressure on himself to be successful.
“Seeing him rally at the regional last year when he needed a string of birdies to advance to the state finals was impressive. It took him three playoff holes to advance, but he never let up. I can’t wait to see what he does on the course this season. I would love to see him return to the state finals and get another shot at Prairie View.”
Tri-West senior Taylor Gardner hopes to swing for a run at the state finals golf competition. (Photo by Eric Pritchett)