WHEELING — Loyola senior George Galanis lived in Canada for his first two years of high school.
He said the golf in Oakville, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, is nowhere near the same as it is in the Chicago area.
“It’s at a whole other level here,” said Galanis, who moved to Canada from the North Shore after eighth grade because of his father’s job.
In his first-ever appearance at Wheeling’s invitational at The Traditions at Chevy Chase, Galanis shot a 9-over 81 Saturday. Galanis’ score didn’t count among the team’s four, but the Ramblers took third place in the 25-team field with a 307, finishing nine strokes behind two-time champion Glenbrook North.
Prior to going north of the border, Galanis said he was a top junior player in Illinois. But he said he never was challenged in Canada, and he fell behind his counterparts in the U.S.
“We played like four tournaments a year, and we didn’t practice,” he said. “It was very unorganized. It wasn’t really a sport.”
In his first season at Loyola last year, Galanis rarely found his way into the varsity lineup. Loyola coach Tim Kane said Galanis’ biggest problem was between his ears.
“It was a big learning curve coming back,” he said. “I lacked confidence in myself. I never felt like I played well all (last year).”
In an effort to get his game up to speed, Galanis enrolled in the Wildcat Golf Academy, co-founded by Northwestern men’s golf coach Pat Goss and Conway Farms Golf Club’s Jeff Mory, last winter.
Now, Galanis, who lives in Glencoe, is Loyola’s No. 2 player.
“He has more confidence in his game this year,” Kane said. “Even the other kids on the team are saying that. He needed to believe he could play at this level again.”
When he can, Galanis goes to the golf sessions at The Glen Club in Glenview on Sundays. He said one of the hallmarks of the lessons is to get players to believe in themselves.
“They teach you how to score within your own game,” said Galanis, who considers himself a solid ball-striker with a weakness on the greens.
Galanis already has shot 78 twice in 18-hole rounds. Galanis showed his resolve Saturday by persevering through an off day to shoot a solid number.
“Even when he’s not playing his best, he will grind it out for a good score,” Kane said. “He doesn’t give up on his rounds. He fights hard to put the team in a good position. He’s very much a team player.”