Late in the summer, Charleston girls golf coach Deb Landsaw got a phone call from Eastern Illinois University new men’s assistant basketball coach Rand Chappell.
“He asked me if there would be a place on the team for his daughter, and I said, ‘Sure,’ ” Landsaw said. “I really had no expectations of her whatsoever until I saw her hit the ball.”
From that day forward, Trojans freshman Lauren Chappell has tamed courses all over the H&R area. Chappell, who moved to Charleston from Conway, Ark. — where the Chappells lived while Rand coached at Central Arkansas and Garden City Community College — shot an 18-hole season-best of 74 last week to win the Apollo Conference title. She shot 33 over nine holes twice — once to set the tournament record at the Olney Invitational and another time at Scovill Golf Club in Decatur.
“Once I saw her hit the ball, I knew she was quite skilled,” Landsaw said. “She’s been a very pleasant surprise.”
Chappell began playing golf with her father at 7. By the she was in eighth grade, she started beating him.
“We started just going out and playing for fun,” Chappell said. “He’s pretty good, but I beat him sometimes.”
Chappell had grown up in Conway, but has embraced life in Charleston since the move — especially on the golf course. Landsaw said Chappell doesn’t have many weaknesses.
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“Her ball-striking skills are phenomenal,” Landsaw said. “Clubs, irons, putter — all of them. She might have a stray drive every now and then, but she’s normally right down the middle.”
Postseason begins today, with Charleston hosting a Class A regional at the Charleston Country Club. Chappell has big goals, and Landsaw said she’s equipped to meet them.
“A big thing for her is she’s played in a lot of big tournaments — more than most of the golfers she’ll be competing against,” Landsaw said. “She’s played at Pinehurst.
“When we get into matches that really mean something, she has the background to work through troubling times and get back on track.”
In a tournament against some of the state’s best big school players this year, she took third at the Eisenhower Invite at Hickory Point Golf Course with a 78.
“There were a lot of good golfers in Arkansas, but I’d say it’s a little tougher here because of the amount of good players in the Chicago area,” Chappell said. “Right now, I just really want to make it to state. I think I have a chance to do pretty well there.”