COLUMBIA — Wilson Sundvold’s first golf club was plastic.
“I’ve been playing golf as long as I can remember walking,” Sundvold said. “My dad put a plastic golf club in my hand, and I fell in love with the sport then.”
Sundvold has remained committed to the sport ever since. Whether he is competing or simply teeing off for practice at A.L. Gustin Golf Course, Sundvold's glare grows sharp and his grip on the club tight when he reaches in his golf bag.
His mental focus seems to remain unfazed regardless of the circumstances.
It's a mindset that helped him win the Class 4, District 5 Boys Golf Tournament for Rock Bridge last week in Lebanon. It's an attitude that has made Sundvold the Bruins' No. 1 player since he joined the team as a sophomore, and it has helped him earn a position next season on the Missouri men's golf team.
However, Sundvold had to make some difficult choices to get to where he is now.
Sundvold started playing competitively when he was a high school freshman at Christian Fellowship School, which he had attended since fourth grade. However, before his sophomore year, Sundvold decided to transfer to Rock Bridge.
“Christian Fellowship is a great school,” Sundvold said. “But the competition is so much greater here at Rock Bridge. Not just between other schools but even qualifying for positions within my team.”
It took a mature outlook for Sundvold to succeed.
“My first day, sophomore year, I was so nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” Sundvold said. “But I kept focused, and after I finished all-state my sophomore season, I knew that I could play at this level.”
Playing a game that relies so heavily on mental focus can be difficult, but Sundvold said he learned plenty of mental toughness from his father, former Missouri men's basketball player Jon Sundvold, an All-American for the Tigers in 1983 who went on to play for three NBA teams.
“It (golf) is a game played between the ears — that’s what my dad’s taught me,” Wilson Sundvold said. “I love that aspect of it, that it’s a mental game.”
Wilson Sundvold’s ability to control the mental aspect of golf has marked him as a leader for the Bruins.
“Wilson is our go-to guy,” said junior Harry Schauwecker during practice earlier in the season. “He’s a beast.”
Wilson Sundvold will be put to the test again Wednesday when Rock Bridge competes in an 18-team Class 4 Sectional at A.L. Gustin. Rock Bridge coach Doug Daniels said he has nothing but confidence in his No. 1 player.
“Wilson is a great young man,” Daniels said. “We are very fortunate to have one of the most talented golfers in the state playing for us."