When 12-year-old Brad Dalke steps onto the tee box, you might not notice his 5-foot-8-inch, 175-pound frame. But once he connects with the ball, you’re apt to notice a few heads turn. Some of them belong to college coaches.
Dalke, of McKinney, Texas, who is entering the seventh grade at Spring Creek Academy in Plano, has given a verbal commitment to play college golf at the University of Oklahoma. Dalke is ranked No. 1 in the 2016 class and No. 514 overall in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings.
Last season was Oklahoma coach Ryan Hybl’s first year in Norman. The Sooners finished No. 80 in Golfweek’s Rankings.
Discussions of playing golf at Oklahoma grew last February, when the Dalkes made an unofficial visit. They were on campus for an Oklahoma basketball game against Baylor. Dalke’s grandfather Ken Pryor was among a number of former Sooners basketball players being honored at halftime.
“I am really excited, and it’s a great honor for Oklahoma to be looking at me,’’ Dalke said. “It’s the only place I have ever wanted to go. I was born a Sooner and never even considered any place else.”
Under NCAA rules, men’s golf is an equivalency sport and is allotted 4.5 scholarships. A full ride is rare in men’s golf, and the amount of OU’s offer to Dalke was not disclosed. Dalke’s mother, Kay, did not reveal the terms of the verbal agreement, indicating only that there would be “financial aid.”
Dalke first picked up a golf club when he was 11 months old and has won numerous tournaments. Most recently, he claimed victory at the U.S. Kids Junior World Championship in Pinehurst, N.C., where he won the 12-year-old division by six shots with rounds of 68-68-68–204.
Earlier this summer, Dalke shot 72-67-75–214 in the 11-12 age division at the Callaway Junior World Championship at the par-73, 6,511-yard Country Club of Rancho Bernardo in San Diego before losing in a three-way playoff.
In the past year, he won the 10-11-year-old division at the Southwest Junior Open by 12 strokes; the 12-13-year-old division in Southwest Junior Championship; and a junior tournament at Barton Creek Country Club in Austin by 19 strokes.
Dalke said the strength of his game is off the tee: 280-yard drives that normally find the fairway.
“With this incredible talent, it’s not surprising that the University of Oklahoma has offered this young man a golf scholarship,” said Justin Hogue, founder and president of Junior Golf Championships.
Dalke was entered this weekend at the JGC’s Belmar Golf Club Junior Championship in Norman, Okla.
Sooner pride runs deep in Dalke’s family. His father, Bill, was a starting linebacker on the 1975 national championship team, and his mother played golf for the Sooners. Pryor, Dalke’s grandfather, played basketball and baseball and developed into a top golfer. He once finished runner-up in the Oklahoma State Amateur Mike Holder, the OSU athletic director and former golf coach.
Brad Dalke’s first tournament experience came at age 3. Playing in the River Creek Park Golf Course Junior, Dalke went 3-2-3 for a total of 8, breaking the previous record of 15 for his age group. Each of the three holes was 40 yards long.
“We were shocked,” said his mother. “We knew he could hit the ball, but it was something else.”
Kay Dalke, who coaches the girls golf team at Boyd High School in McKinney, gave her son the same advice she tells her players: If you want to play college golf, write the coaches and introduce yourself.
Dalke knew where he wanted to go, so he began sending letters and e-mails to Hybl, informing him of his interest in someday playing for the Sooners. The Dalkes understood the NCAA rules and knew that Hybl could not respond.
However, he took notice. While Dalke was competing in the Texas Cup Invitational, “here comes this guy decked out in OU golf gear, and our jaws dropped,’’ Kay Dalke said. “It was Coach Hybl. Brad was in sixth grade and paired with juniors and seniors in high school.”
Dalke shot 71 that day, the second-lowest score of the day, with Hybl watching a few holes.
Dalke has just begun to make his mark in junior golf and has his sights on the top.
“I want to be the Jordan Spieth or the Anthony Paolucci (of my era),” Dalke said. “I have always looked up to them, and I would love for kids to look up to me when I am 17 or 18.”