Natchez High junior has steadily improved his golf game
NATCHEZ — The first thing Natchez High School golf coach Jerry Baldwin noticed about Rondall Hawkins Jr. was his swing.
When the junior golfer first showed Baldwin his swing as a freshman, Baldwin said he immediately knew Hawkins had a bright future in golf.
“He always had a really pretty swing,” Baldwin said. “Mechanically, he looks really good. His mental aspect is what he’s had to work on. He would have trouble leaving holes behind him — if he had a bad hole, he’d carry it with him.”
But the growth in Hawkins has been undeniable, Baldwin said. He’s gone from being his No. 5 golfer as a freshman to his No. 1 golfer this year. Hawkins has already been the low medalist several times this season for the Bulldogs’ golf team.
“I used to get so disappointed every time I’d hit a bad shot,” Hawkins recalled. “But I learned over time to leave it behind me — that every hole is a new hole.”
Hawkins and the rest of the Bulldogs have spent time working with local veteran golfer Pete Powell, and he said Powell has made a big difference in his development as a golfer.
“He helps me with proper swing mechanics, and if I hit a bad shot, he teaches me to continue,” Hawkins said. “Bad shots will happen, you just have to continue.”
Hawkins said he’s hopeful he can earn a golf scholarship and maybe even go pro one day. Powell said Hawkins has a good future in golf — if he spends the necessary time to improve his skills every day.
“Anyone who wants to be (a pro) has to practice and hit 100s of golf balls a day,” Powell said.
Baldwin said he thinks Hawkins has a high ceiling as a golfer if Hawkins dedicates himself enough.
“If he can conquer the mind part of the game, he has unlimited potential,” Baldwin said. “In order to be great, he will have to dedicate himself to the game and play it daily.”
Golf wasn’t on Hawkins’ radar until a summer vacation while he was in middle school.
“Every Christmas me and my family go to a resort, and there’s a golf course that you can see when you’re outside on the balcony,” Hawkins said. “I saw people hitting golf balls, and I told my dad I’d like to start playing.”
Hawkins began playing golf in seventh grade under David Day before Baldwin took over his coaching in ninth grade. Like his coaches, Hawkins said he likes his swing, though he’s not totally satisfied with it.
“It’s pretty effective,” Hawkins said. “I still have some kinks to work out, but everyone says it’s nice, so that helps.”
Hawkins is the son of Rondall Sr. and Cylynthia Hawkins.