Central Valley Christian senior Brian Stark is kind of a big deal at his small high school in Visalia.
“My sophomore year, they made shirts for me with my face on the front and it said, ‘the legend’ on the back,” chuckled Stark.
That attention is well deserved from his fellow classmates, because during his high school years, Brian has solidified himself as one of the top junior golfers in the country, with his sights set on the PGA Tour.
“That’s my entire goal at the moment,” said Stark.
He appears well on his way. As a CVC freshman, he shot a 12-under 60 at Ridge Creek in Dinuba, the course record from the white tees.
“The kids I was playing with (that day) were rooting me on too, even though they weren’t on my team,” said Stark.
He won the individual Valley title as a sophomore, and has followed that up with a bunch of impressive finishes at national junior tournaments. Which is why, according to Golfweek’s most recent rankings, he was ranked as the 22nd-ranked golfer in the country in his graduating class.
“It’s pretty much school, family and golf right now,” said Stark.
His talent caught the attention of college golf powerhouse Oklahoma State, and Brian signed with the Cowboys in November. Oklahoma State is the defending college national champion, and is ranked No. 1 in the country headed into the upcoming NCAA Men’s Golf Championships.
“Nobody from this Valley has ever been recruited to Oklahoma State,” said his father Scott. “So Brian’s the first, (he’s) kind of a trailblazer.”
Scott is a former Fresno City and the current Reedley College golf coach, so it’s not surprising that Brian was already swinging clubs at the age of two.
“We would be out there (on the range) for hours,” said Brian. “I’d hit golf balls with plastic clubs, and never wanted to leave.”
His impressive early skills were introduced to everyone else right before his 9th birthday, when Brian’s mom entered him in his first touranament at the River Park Par-3 course. He shot 5-over 32 for nine holes, beating a field, which included players nearly twice his age.
“The scoreboard was taller than he was, and he was trying to hold the thing up with his brother,” said Scott. “And it showed his score, and I’m like, ‘maybe there is something there with this little kid.'”
That little kid is now all grown up, with clubhead speed better than the PGA Tour average, and the drive and determination to be great.
“I’m out here (at Ridge Creek) or Kings River (Country Club) or Visalia Country Club every day,” said Brian. “From when I get out (of school) til dark.”
“Every goal he’s set for himself, he’s been able to accomplish that goal. From being a really good player in the Valley, to being the best player at his high school, to being the best player in this area, to getting a scholarship to Oklahoma State,” said his father. “And obviously, I know he wants to play professional golf. That’s been a goal of his since he’s been a really little kid, so I think he can get there.”