Prep golf: Park City's Justin Shluker bringing his top form
It's not the shot that you just made that defines a golfer it's the next one.
Park City senior Justin Shluker always has his eye toward his next shot. After winning last year's 3A boys state tournament, the 17-year-old is leading the Miners in their attempt to win five straight state titles. What's past is prologue for the Salt Lake City-born Shluker, who shoulders the responsibility to continue the winning tradition at Park City.
"You can't control the one you just hit," Shluker said. "You need to be looking forward and try to make the next one even better."
Getting to the top of the leaderboard at any level takes an enormous amount of discipline. To compete at the highest levels in Utah, Shluker plays five rounds a week and spends countless hours at the driving range perfecting all aspects of his game. The competitive nature of golf matches his work ethic, and he thrives under the stressful conditions on the course.
"You're not just competing against another team you're competing against yourself," Shluker said. "I am always trying to best myself."
Shluker's father first put a club in his hand at age 8. Lessons at Jeremy Ranch Country Club help perfect his natural swing and made him a force on the links. His strength is his length off the tee and being able to finish strong with his putter. Shluker knows that his short game is what needs the most improvement. To do this, he relies heavily on his teammates.
"Everyone pushes me to [do] better and I hope I do the same for them," he said. "We pressure ourselves to do well and to win for our school again."
The Miners spent the entire summer playing Utah Junior Golf, a competitive golf tournament, and trained almost every day playing against each other. In preparation for defending their state title, Shluker organized match play against teammates at local courses, trying to get as many looks as possible.
"We need to be committed to golf by staying focused and working on our game," he said.
Carrying a 3.5 GPA, Shluker puts his golf-course focus to use in the classroom. After graduation, he is looking to continue his golfing career at the college level. He hasn't committed to any school yet, but his top priority is to find a head coach who can help him perfect his game. Schools on his shortlist are Chico State, Sonoma State and Boise State. He would like to study business and marketing while trying to make the big step toward a PGA start.
"Right now I need a lot of work to make it to the next level," Shluker said. "I've relied on coaches to help my swing and use my initiative to work as hard as I can from this point forward."
Park City head coach George Murphy thinks there is something special about Shluker. He is more than a strong golfer; he's a player who sets an example for the rest of the Miners.
"He's a hard-working kid who is all about golf," Murphy said. "He's a role model for the other kids to see what it takes to play at the next level."
A Miner legacy on the links
Park City has a won the 3A boys state golf tournament for the past four years.
Justin Shluker won last year's tournament with a two-day total of 142.
Shluker models himself after Rory McIlroy.