Like many weekend warriors, Joliet Catholic Academy junior golfer Jake Pluth used to just “grip it and rip it” relying more on his natural athleticism than being a technician when it came to the game of golf. In fact, Pluth only starting playing golf right before high schools, so his transformation over the last three years has been that much more impressive. The number one player in the Hilltopper golf program, Pluth recently finished the season with an 8th place finish at the IHSA Class 2A state tournament, shooting what is believed to be a modern day school record 72. Pluth joins Alex Fried as the only Hilltopper all-staters in the last 41 years.
JCA head golf coach Mark Hansen, who has led the Hilltoppers for the past 38 seasons said, “He is a golfer. Some people like to ‘play’ golf, but Jake competes daily. He never gets rattled, he handles pressure situations and knows how to recover. Jake has the best finish at the state tournament during my tenure as head coach, and we’ve had some great golfers over the years.”
Pluth’s 72 at the state tournament at Illinois State University was impressive in that he rebounded from a first round 80, good for a 152 stroke overall performance, finishing tied for 8th place. The 72 was tied for the lowest round shot by a golfer in the two championship rounds for top individuals in Class 2A. Pluth’s personal best low-round is a 66 shot at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, IL.
Last year at the state tournament as a sophomore, Pluth finished 43rd overall. On his maturation as golfer the JCA junior stated, “I control the ball a lot better and have more of a clue when I’m out there. Playing tougher courses during IJGA and MAJGT tournament play in the offseason helped me prepare for this season.”
Pluth’s dream would be to play collegiate golf at the University of Illinois, but playing at a Division-I school is his goal. “I’ve been practicing every day the last three years to keep getting better and I’m excited about the amount of young talent that we have at JCA that is quickly improving. I’m looking forward to be a captain next year as a senior and taking on more of a leadership role in our program.”
What’s even more impressive is despite the hours he’s spent honing his craft on the golf course, Pluth still manages to maintain a 3.97 G.P.A. taking courses like Honors Pre-Calculus and A.P. Physics. One thing is for sure, if Pluth has come this far in only four years of playing competitive golf, the sky is the limit as far as his future potential and the heights he may take the Hilltopper golf program in the next year.