Glenbrook South’s golf coach knew he had a competitor back in July.
Jeff Paek watched sophomore Charlie Nikitas battle golfers a few years older than him in the Chick Evans Junior Amateur Championship. Nikitas was tied for 11th (5-over) through two rounds of stroke play and survived the cut for match play. There, the match went back-and-forth against the three grades-elder Christopher Boyle from Hampshire, but Nikitas eventually lost on the 18th hole.
“The pressure of the moment, and the way he responded to shot after shot after shot, it was a fun match as an observer to watch,” Paek said. “It was one great shot after another.
“I got a nice preview as to what was to come.”
Nikitas has been one of the top Titan golfers and a regular medalist this season. He had the low score (35) in a 146-152 victory over Evanston on Sept. 16, and two days later he again won medalist honors (39) as Glenbrook South defeated Maine South 165-176. Glenbrook South won Saturday’s Naperville Central Invite with a 302, and Nikitas finished tied for fourth individually with a 75.
“It’s just a bonus that I’ve been medalist a couple times,” Nikitas said. “It’s really just all about the team. We’re 8-1 now, that’s all I really care about.”
Nikitas already has a finely-tuned short game, but he said he grew a little this offseason and he’s gotten physically stronger, so he’s driving the ball further. He practices in his own time at places like Northfield’s Sunset Ridge and the Glen Club in Glenview, where he putts, hit balls and corrects the small flaws in his swing. While he said he didn’t expect to be quite as successful as he’s been, he knew he’d be a better golfer.
“I expected out of myself to be toward the top,” Nikitas said. “All the work I put in this summer was for that.”
As a thriving Glenbrook South team prepares to possibly face teams like New Trier, Loyola and Glenbrook North in regional and sectional tournaments, Nikitas said that the tense matches will force him and his teammates to play their best. For him, the Chick Evans tournament can help with that.
“That was my biggest confidence booster, knowing that I could compete on that level,” Nikitas said. “There were some older guys, the guy I was playing was going to be a freshman in college. He was a lot bigger than I was and he hit it a lot further, but I had him two down most of the match and I ended up losing on 18. But that really gave me a lot of confidence. I took out the positives from that.”