N. County's Koch driven to succeed Golf: North County's Lori Koch began golfing at age 10, and that early start has paid off with back-to-back girls county titles. This season, her winning score matched the boys champion.

October 25, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Curiosity got the best of Lori Koch when she was 10 years old. The North County senior has been finding the middle of fairways ever since.

"My mom worked across the street from a driving range and I saw some golfers out there one day," she said. "I kind of wanted to do everything back then, so I pestered my parents until they finally let me hit some balls."

Lessons soon followed and then plenty of success for Koch, who completed an outstanding high school career with her third straight fifth-place showing at states earlier this week.

Her season highlight came the week before when she captured her second straight Anne Arundel County Championship, firing a 76 at Eisenhower Golf Course to match the boys winner, Broadneck's Dave Linder.

"She did everything right that day," said North County coach Nelson Martin. "I've been coaching at North County since the school opened in 1990 and Lori is the most talented golfer I've worked with. She's self-motivated and works extremely hard. Her leadership ability on the course filters down on the rest of the team."

Koch, who carries a 4.1805 grade-point average and is president of the National Honor Society, thrives on challenges and says the one she has found in golf never ends.

"You can always do better," she said. "You have to have a positive attitude to play it and love it as much as I do. It used to be a bad day would mess me up for the longest time. But I've matured a little bit and now if I have a bad day, I know there will be others that are good. That keeps you going."

Golf has Koch constantly on the go. She has competed all over the country in national tournaments through the American Junior Golf Association, goes south in the winter to golf in the Plantation's Junior Tour and plays in a number of other tournaments throughout the summer in Washington D.C. and Virginia.

Representing North County and getting the chance to play with friends were her biggest rewards throughout her high school career. She said Martin has helped her improve her game while keeping golf fun.

Koch's home course is the Crofton Country Club, where she spends a lot of time fine-tuning her game with pro Bill Sporre.

Driving off the tee is her strength. "I love watching it go far and straight," she says, and the rest of her game is fast catching up.

Sporre said Koch has improved greatly on her short game along with course management.

The two have sit-down sessions where they discuss different situations -- club selection, where to leave the ball and other strategies of the game.

"When she first came here she was already a good golfer. At 14 years old, that's pretty neat," said Sporre. "This year, she's improved her golf swing, improved her short game and improved on her management skills. She has the desire to achieve nice goals for herself and is willing to work to get them. She has a lot of intelligence and is very teachable. Now she's smiling."

Koch had off from school on Friday. Her plans? Sleep in and then hit the golf course. She said from time to time there may be a problem with her swing, but she's been playing so long it is easy to determine and fix.

"I have a tendency to drop the club at the top of the swing. Sometimes it's my follow through. There are a lot of little things and you have to be really precise," she said.

Sporre said a phone call from Koch can come at any time to help get those rare problems solved. He looks forward to them.

"It's been a real pleasure working with her and I'm going to miss her a bunch when she goes off to college next year," he said.

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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