BLANKET — Luke and Marki Kinkade already were above average golfers before their parents, Charles and Janis, bought a golf course.
The brother and sister grew up around PAR Country Club near Lake Proctor, where their dad was an eight-time club champion. Luke and Marki began playing on the summertime West Texas Junior Champions Tour around age 9 when they lived in Dublin.
“The turning point came when Luke was playing Little League baseball around age 11 or 12,” Charles Kinkade said. “He played shortstop, and he was pretty good. He was the leadoff hitter, and he always got on base.
“He moved up to a new league and he got hit by a pitch in the leg. That was all for him as far as playing baseball. That was the push we needed to go to golf.”
Charles and Janis Kinkade, both Comanche natives, moved their family to Blanket when Luke and Marki were in the fifth grade.
“We like the small schools where our kids can do all the sports and still be competitive at a high level,” Janis said.
Luke plays quarterback and running back on Blanket’s six-man football team. He also plays point guard on the basketball team and runs the sprints and 400-meter relay in track. Marki runs cross country, plays basketball, and runs the sprints and 400 relay in track.
“Marki is the leading scorer on the basketball team, but you’d never know it from being around her,” said Monty Jones, Blanket’s golf coach. “Luke is a tough, smart football player we could play at any position. They’re both well-rounded in athletics and in the classroom.
“But they know golf is their claim to fame.”
Luke, a junior, is the reigning Class A state champion medalist in golf, winning last year’s UIL title by three strokes. He also finished fourth in the state medalist standings in 2015 as a freshman. The Blanket boys’ golf team has also qualified for state the last two years.
Marki, also a junior, finished second in the Class A medalists standings at the UIL state tournament as a freshman in 2015. She finished seventh last year. Marki also led a Blanket girls’ team that finished fourth at state last year and returns all four members this year — Marki, Cassie Furry, Kenzie Tidwell and Emily Furry.
The 2017 golf season begins next week. Regional tournaments are scheduled for late April and state will be in late May.
When the Kinkades relocated to Blanket six years ago, they moved next to The Creek, the local nine-hole golf course. The Creek later closed, but three years ago, Charles and Janis Kinkade brought it and reopened it. Their home is just off the green on Hole No. 1.
“It’s pretty cool that our parents own a golf course, but we have to work there all the time,” said Marki, who picks up range balls and mows the grass in the rough and driving range.
Luke mows the greens, weed eats and cleans the cups that line the holes.
“It helps our kids, but it helps the school too. We want the whole Blanket golf team to do well,” Janis said of owning a golf course.
Charles said, “We can practice for 15 minutes or four to five hours at our convenience.”
Ah, yes, practice. High schoolers don’t win state or finish high in the medalist standings by playing golf from just February to May. You have to play as close to year round as possible. If Luke and Marki want to excel in golf, Charles is there to see they do it the right way.
“If we don’t want to practice and he wants us to practice, we’re going to practice,” Luke said. “He’s supportive of everything we’ve done.”
Charles said, “It’s not practice that makes perfect. It’s perfect practice that makes perfect. We’re all business when it comes to golf.
“Golf resembles life more than any other sport. If we live life the right way and go by the rules and do the right things all the time, it pays off.”
That said, Luke and Marki are not golfing robots who only care about themselves. They are good teammates in multiple sports.
In the spring, Luke lifts weights in the mornings before school, runs track during the boys’ in-school athletic period and practices golf after school. Marki runs track during the girls’ in-school athletic period and golfs after school.
“They help the other kids with questions about golf, but they don’t think they’re better than the others on the team,” Jones said. “It’s very impressive how they go about their business.
“They’re down-to-earth kids — country kids. They don’t act entitled because of their golf success. They work hard every day, and they’ll stay as long as you need them to. I’ve never been around two kids who hated to lose more than those two.”
Jones said Luke routinely shoots 70 to 72 on just about any course he plays. Marki shoots 70 to 75 on a regular basis.
With one state medalist title already won, Luke is aiming to win three consecutive UIL championships before he graduates in 2018. Marki wants to win that elusive first state medalist title, plus help the Blanket girls win state as a team.
“It’d be pretty cool if we both won state in the same year,” Marki said.
After high school, Luke and Marki want to play college golf — preferably at the same school.
“Golf’s a game you can play your whole life,” Charles said. “Even if they play in college, I hope they will keep playing for the rest of their lives and not be burned out on the game.”