When Rob Landis didn't feel like going to football practice, golf was there.
When the DeSales High School senior wanted to spend some extra time with his father and older brother, golf provided a common bond.
As Landis continues to fight back from what he called the lowest point of his life, golf has been the rock.
Landis, who is the Stallions' top golfer for the second consecutive year, has transformed himself into a model of consistency and calm despite a tumultuous past 12 months. His father, Ron, the man who introduced him to golf, died of a heart attack Sept. 16, 2016, and that was followed by a bout of mononucleosis that sidelined Landis for a month.
"When things fell off, it was when we were starting our push to the sectional tournament. It was that three-week period when you really want to be playing your best," Landis said. "From having huge expectations to not even thinking about golf for what seemed like forever ... when I got sick, I wasn't able to do anything except sit home and watch Star Wars and try to feel better.
"(Golf) is something I love doing. It brought me back from a low point in my life. It has been a rock -- maybe not as much of a rock as my family -- but it has been great while letting me be competitive with a smile on my face."
Landis averages 40 strokes per nine holes for DeSales, with a personal-best round of 38 earlier this year at the Links at Echo Springs. His best 18-hole round of 80 came last year in a match against Gahanna.
Coach Mike McGoldrick regards Landis as the prototypical No. 1 golfer.
"He is the reliable scorer you know will post a good number," McGoldrick said. "Rob is the mental grinder. There is not a lot that will fluster him or keep him down for too long. Even if he has strung together six (consecutive) pars, he is never thinking ahead."
Landis took a roundabout road to his current position, even though his father and older brother, Ryan, regularly golfed.
Landis played quarterback in the Stallions' football team's youth program while in elementary school before picking up basketball. But when he stood just 5-foot-9, 140 pounds upon reaching high school, he came back to football because he felt he was too small and wanted to get stronger.
Landis ended up being a kicker on the freshman team, but room for advancement was limited behind 2017 graduate Dominic DiMaccio.
Golf became an out. Landis didn't seriously take up the sport until he was a sophomore, and played most of the year in the bottom half of the varsity lineup. He carded a 92 in a Division I sectional tournament to end the season.
"Even then, it was so I didn't have to go to football practice," the now-6-0, 150-pound Landis said, laughing. "It is addicting to get better at golf."
The tightknit nature of this senior class, which is rounded out by Brett Husslein, Alex Miller and Andrew Richards, helped rescue Landis after the sudden death of his father, who was 61 and the owner of R.J. Landis Design and Construction.
"We just wanted to be there for him and make him as comfortable as we could," Husslein said. "We'd show up at his house and just hang out, just make him forget about things for a while."
College plans remain uncertain for Landis, who hopes to be a software engineer but also is interested in business. Miami University, Notre Dame and Wake Forest are his top three choices.
Just as on the golf course, Landis expects his father to provide guidance.
"I see him as my caddy every round," Landis said. "Ryan was always the one pushing me at golf, but this does bring me closer to my dad. In terms of golf, every time I go out and swing a club, it seems like he is watching. He's the person I have to make proud."
leading girls golfers
Even with two freshmen and a sophomore in his top four, girls golf coach Charlie Mitchell has seen consistency all season.
Senior Kennedy Pannell, sophomore Paige Verfurth and freshmen Faith Corn and Amanda Pancake usually have shot in the low to mid-40s per nine holes for DeSales, which was in second place in the MOGGL entering the third round of the league tournament Sept. 12.
In a tri-match Aug. 21 at Buck Ridge, all four DeSales scorers were in the 40s as the Stallions finished first (178) ahead of Delaware (193) and Dublin Scioto (212). Verfurth carded a 41, followed by Corn (43), Pancake (45) and Pannell (49).
Corn and Verfurth shared medalist honors with rounds of 45 in a 194-242 win over Centerburg 194-242 at NorthStar.
"They're pretty close in scoring average, and that's what I expected," Mitchell said. "You look at Faith, and even though she is a freshman, she's been playing for a long time with a lot of youth tournaments. She's playing a lot of courses she hasn't seen before, and our home course (NorthStar) is one of the toughest that we play at all. She'll shoot an 85 on courses she knows.
"Paige shot 46 or 47 a lot last year, and she's gotten stronger. Kennedy has been steady all year. I have her as our No. 1 as a senior; it's less pressure on those younger girls to feel like they have to score low."
DeSales was 11-1 in the MOGGL before Sept. 12, the most wins of any league team. The Stallions finished second (384) in the second round Aug. 14 at Raymond Memorial behind Granville (365), which did not participate in the first round.
The fourth and final round is Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Village View.
"We didn't putt as well in the second round as we did in the first," Mitchell said. "We dug down deep in the first round (Aug. 7 at Champions, shooting a 423). That was in a downpour, but we played well."
The boys and girls soccer teams began their CCL schedules last week with wins over Watterson.
The boys won 2-0 on Sept. 5 behind goals by Zach Garrett and Hector Gomez and four saves by Chase Agin.
DeSales tied Marysville at 1 on Sept. 7 and was 4-0-1 overall before playing league foe Hartley on Sept. 12.
The girls' 2-1 win over the Eagles on Sept. 7 was their second in three games after an 0-2 start. Abbey Dop and Gabby Mahaffey scored and Talia Kreuzer made four saves for DeSales, which was 2-4 overall before playing Dublin Jerome on Sept. 12.