By THAD BROWN | firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Link: www.rochesterfirst.com
Joe Lusardi never saw the seminal moment in his teaching career coming.
He heard it.
"All of a sudden, I hear a player hit a driver behind me. Whack! Whack! And by the third one, I was like, 'Wow. That's really loud. Who is that?'," Lusardi said. "I turn around and it's this little 11 year old, left-handed kid hitting shots."
That 11 year-old was Gavin Hall, currently ranked 33rd in the world among amateur golfers.
Soon after, Lusardi began teaching 11 year-old Will Thomson. At 13, Thomson became the youngest ever to make a U.S. Amateur.
"To have a solid home base when I'm here in Rochester is huge," Hall said. "If you have another pair of eyes, it's really crucial. You see guys really perform when they have a golf coach."
"Both of them have so much talent. But what I don't think people understand is how much time and effort they put into it," Lusardi said. "It's the combination of the two that takes players to another level."
Lusardi got his start working under legendary teacher Jim Flick. He even teed up golf balls once for Jack Nicklaus while Flick instructed the Golden Bear.
When it comes to teeing up careers for talents like Hall or Thomson, teaching them how to hit the ball right can sometimes be wrong.
"You have to be really careful when working with great players because they can make anything you tell them work," Lusardi said. "But, is it what's best for them."
"He knows how to teach you and he listens to you," Thomson said. "He doesn't just do his own thing. If you have some input, he wants to hear it and he wants to implement that."
The McQuaid grad is currently the Director of Instruction at Locust Hill Country Club. He's proud to be part of a team that's further bolding Rochester on the golf map.
He's more proud that so many parents trust him to guide their kids' success.
"It's really quite flattering, humbling. It's just amazing to be able to help kids achieve things," Lusardi said.
He has a pair of school-age daughters at home. When they go to college, he'd like to travel the country more.
Perhaps he'll follow Hall or Thomson on their pro careers. He also could fulfill more of the national requests for his expertise.
Until then, he'll keep assisting Rochester's next great players climb the golf ladder.