West Orange Country Club member and Windermere High golfer Cooper Tate is honing his game on the greens.
Cooper Tate has only been playing golf for the last four years of his life, but he’s already making a name for himself on the links. At the age of 11 he won the first tournament he ever competed in, and is a six-year member of the West Orange Country Club, as well as a student at Windermere High.
When did you first get into golf?
I was about 11 when I first started, and I got into it because of my brother — he’s a pretty good player and he got recruited by some pretty good colleges.
What were those early days like?
It’s hard — I think — at first. You just have to have fun with it and if you like it, you like it — and if you don’t, you don’t. I was never forced to play, which was good.
What’s been your favorite thing about playing golf?
I like it because it is an individual sport — I don’t have to rely on anyone else, I can just do it all myself. But at the same time that’s what makes it hard, because you’re the only one responsible. So if you go out there and you’re unprepared, it’s going to show, but that’s what I like about it.
Has there been a highlight of your time in golf?
Not really, but for the most part it’s playing out here with a bunch of the guys — it’s really fun and really enjoyable.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given when it comes to playing this sport?
Just have fun and stay patient. If you put in the work eventually you’ll see results, but you have to have patience.
What would you say is the strongest part of your game? The weakest?
I would say my short game — so chipping and putting — are my strength by far. I spent a lot of time working on that when I first started playing, which I think has helped me tremendously. And my ball striking, off-the-tee game is still developing, but I think that is something that will come as I grow and get bigger and stronger. I’m glad I’ve gotten my short game good, because if that is always there, if I hit it well, then I’m going to score it well.
Do you have a favorite course that you like to play?
I haven’t played a ton of courses yet … but I just played Bay Hill, so that’s pretty cool — I had a tournament out there. It was a three-day tournament and I shot a 75, 73, 73 — so five over total, which got me into the top 15. The course was really cool and it was a good test.
Do you remember your first tournament?
It was actually out here at West Orange. I think I was 12, I think, and I won it. There wasn’t a ton of people in it, but I shot mid-to-low 70s both rounds — I picked it up pretty quick.