Frank Malicki outdrives competition, leads Ridgewood

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Frank Malicki goes for distance. The Ridgewood senior can drive a golf ball over 300 yards off the tee, and since the Rebels have been playing on longer courses as of late, he has the edge over competitors who can’t strike it as far.

Malicki has been the medalist six times and has posted Ridgewood’s lowest mark in all 15 duals, averaging a score of 41.9 in nine-hole matches. His long drives have been a big reason why.

While Malicki practices his game and golfs in Illinois Junior Golf Association events when not competing for Ridgewood, the four-year varsity player has always had his strength.

“You can’t practice that,” said Malicki, a golfer since the age of 2. “It just comes natural.”

His background and skill have made him Ridgewood’s most consistent golfer, which is important considering the team’s personnel changes. Some talented players — including Sabrina Bonanno, who played on the boys’ team and won the Class A girls state title in 2012 — graduated in 2014.

“He did well to fill in her shoes, you can say,” senior Aaron Linker said. “He brings in consistent good scores.”

Coach Eric Lasky is in his first season, arriving after 13 years at West Chicago. While he’s building a program at Ridgewood by finding players and securing year-round access to local golf facilities, Malicki’s play and senior leadership have made things a little easier.

“It’s nice to know that every round there’s someone you could count on to bring in a score that will make us competitive at the meet,” Lasky said.

Malicki certainly is competitive. Lasky said that Malicki likes the challenge of being paired with the best opposing players. Going shot-for-shot and battling the best gives Malicki a sense of how well he’s playing.

“It brings out my best when I play someone better or the same level as me,” Malicki said.

The Class 2A Montini Regional is slated for Tuesday, and Malicki said he’s determined to make it to the sectional for the third time in his career and state for the first time. He said he had chances to make the state cut at the sectional both his freshman and junior years, but the weak parts of his game — putting and chipping — were off those days. If he improves those elements of his game, his ball striking could carry him.

“He always outdrives every other person on the course,” Linker said. “It’s a big advantage to him.”

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