Rock Bridge's Jack Knoesel enjoys playing golf fast

Sunday, April 28, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Rock Bridge High School golfer Jack Knoesel lines up a putt Wednesday at the Columbia Country Club.

COLUMBIA — Jack Knoesel doesn't like to wait.

The star sophomore of the Rock Bridge golf team plays at his own pace. His 300-yard drives and torrid pace often leave opponents and teammates speechless. It's one thing to play faster than most opponents, it's another thing to be good at it.

Rock Bridge took on Hickman in a match play event at the Country Club of Missouri. Knoesel stood on the first tee box with his head down focusing on his driver swinging back and forth through the freshly cut zoysia grass. Knoesel placed his Titleist Pro-V golf ball a few inches off the ground in the middle of the tee box markers.

"Not yet Jack," Rock Bridge coach Doug Daniels said. "You're not up yet."

The Kewpies' number one golfer, Juwan Mahaney teed off first since it was their home match. It was one of the few times Knoesel had to tee off second during the day.

Knoesel has the body and blood of a golfer. Standing at 6-foot-3 with long arms and legs, Knoesel is the son of Pro Golf Association professional Jim Knoesel.

Jack Knoesel's long frame allows him to crush drives and move quickly. His energetic personality and intelligence allow him to navigate courses faster than most other high school golfers.

"It doesn't seem fast to me," Knoesel said. "I kind of compute the (yardage) numbers faster than most people do."

Mahaney, a regular opponent of Knoesel, thinks differently.

"He kind of sucks the energy out of his opponents," Mahaney said. "It's like holy cow he hits a 300-yard drive on every hole and he's (ready to be) chipping on the green when you're still 200 yards out."

Knoesel's fast pace and "don't think twice" mentality has hurt him in the past. Last season, as a freshman, Knoesel earned a two-stroke penalty at the state tournament for his lack of patience. Knoesel's long-putt attempt struck one of his opponents unmarked balls on the green. Knoesel was supposed to wait until his opponent removed the ball before attempting his own putt.

His father, Jim Knoesel, said his son has learned from that error and that it hasn't discouraged Jack's style of play.

"Most golfers' cadence match their personality," Jim Knoesel said. "He's an energetic, jumpy kind of kid."

After Mahaney's first shot of the day, Knoesel stepped up to the tee box. No practice swings necessary this time, just a quick glance down the fairway.


The rest of the golfers turned their attention to Knoesel, who was already cleaning his club head with his towel. Knoesel's quick, powerful swing makes golf balls explode off his clubs. The balls whistle through the air.

Teammate Matt Echelmeier is often paired with Knoesel during matches. He said playing with Knoesel can sometimes leave him in awe.

"You just drop your jaw and get amazed when you see him hit a driver," Echelmeier said. "He can hit as far as the tour pros."

Knoesel's long shots often leave him waiting for other golfers to catch up. He usually fiddles with his next club or cleans his clubs and shoes while waiting for opponents to take their second or third shot. He doesn't like to wait for others but he rarely has a choice.

Knoesel's rhythm and his ball's location determine his preparation for the next shot.

"I have to find that perfect balance of speed but slow enough to get things done," Knoesel said."I call it getting in my bubble."

Sometimes he takes two practice swings, other times he just walks up to the ball and swings. Knoesel is in his "bubble" when he is crushing drives, gently dropping balls on the green, and knocking down long putts.

"He's confident. I'm sure he believes he's the best player in the group," Daniels said. "In most cases he is."

Knoesel wrapped his green-and-gold golf bag over both shoulders and walked down the fairway. He arrived at the first ball, waited for the shot and repeated the process two more times before it was his turn to hit.

Sometimes he doesn't wait and just walks ahead of the other golfers. Knoesel knows he can improve his patience, but it's just the way he is.

Knoesel also played junior varsity basketball for the Bruins this past fall. Even though he was the second tallest member of the team, Knoesel liked to get out on the fast break and run the floor as a big man.

"He runs the court like a gazelle," his mother, Laura Knoesel, said. "Having that much energy is an asset for him."

Outside of high school sports, Jack Knoesel loves to wakeboard. He enjoys the rush and challenge of balancing on a rectangular board while skipping across the top of the water.

"That's one of my favorite hobbies," Knoesel said. "Just jumping (waves) and doing all that cool stuff (on a wakeboard)."

Like wakeboarding, golf requires intense focus and a good rhythm to be successful.

After a long iron shot a few holes later, Knoesel tossed his club up. The club did a few rotations and returned to Knoesel's hand. After a quick wipe down, the club is placed back in the bag as he pulled out his putter with his other hand.

Knoesel prepared for at least a 40-foot plus birdie putt.

"Pull it (the flag)," Knoesel said.

As he crouched and tried to decipher every break on the moist green, he waited. Once it was Knoesel's turn, he didn't hesitate.

He just swung.

"Go, go, go!" Knoesel said, in an increasingly loud tone.

Knoesel followed the path of the ball all the way to the cup and celebrated with a fist pump. Knoesel's birdie won him the hole as his opponents tried to save par.

He couldn't wait to tee off first on the next hole.

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