State Golf Results

That noise in the attic? 

It’s just Country Day senior Reed Lotter crushing golf balls. The noises coming from the attic are no mystery at the Lotter house.

The things that go bump in the night — it’s more of a thwack! Thwack! Thwack! — don’t scare anyone, though they could be annoying if the Lotters weren’t used to it.

It’s just their son, Savannah Country Day senior Reed Lotter, driving golf balls into and sometimes through a net. The ball-striking is so powerful, smooth and accurate, golf balls have ripped holes in the net and bounced around the attic. The net, and the nearby air conditioning unit, are much the worse for wear.

“We call it the Clark Griswold golf set because my husband (Chris) kind of made that,” Reed’s mother, Melissa, said of the driving-for-one range in referencing the Griswold family patriarch of the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” comedies. “You find golf balls everywhere up there.”

The in-house practice facility includes a putting green taking up much of the floor of the den, with room for a stationary bike, in their home at The Landings Club. Reed has a second, narrower putting green in his bedroom.

“(Reed) recently struggled with putting, so that putting mat was out in the den and he would spend hours at night putting,” his mother said. “The girls just roll their eyes. They know that’s just Reed. There are golf balls everywhere in the house.”

His sisters, twins Olivia and Larkin Lotter, 14, will have nothing to do with golf — soccer is their sport — but that’s fine because Reed plays enough golf for an entire family.

And Lotter, 17, plays golf better than anyone his age in the Savannah area. A nationally-ranked junior player, Lotter averaged 68 for 18 holes this high school season.

He recently captured the Area 2-A Private title with a 6-under 66 at Crosswinds and the City of Savannah High School Championship with a 1-under 70 at Bacon Park. In both events, he won with clutch shots on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

The wins surprised no one aware of Lotter’s skill level, competitive fire, unwavering dedication to golf training and fitness and an absolute infatuation with a sport that doesn’t always love him back.

That’s both attractive and a challenge to him. Lotter played other sports, and as a youth was one of the best his age in road races until he stopped running competitively to focus solely on golf when he got to high school. While elite runners routinely post within a tight range of times, elite golfers don’t really know what score they will card, nor where their competition is coming from.

“I think it’s like that feeling of never arriving, like you can be number one but you can go out and shoot an 80 still,” Lotter explained. “You can be the numberone player and miss a cut just like anybody else.

“The separation between somebody ranked 200th in the world and somebody ranked 10th is very small. And you can go from 10th to 200th temporarily pretty quickly. And so that kind of drives me, like you never have arrived.”

To feed the acknowledged perfectionist’s hunger to be better, to perhaps someday be the best golfer, Lotter practices and prepares for golf every day, rain or shine, outdoors and/or indoors.

Working at golf

A heavy day in the summer could be eight to 10 hours. Start with a practice at one of The Landings’ courses at 8 a.m. to hit some balls, then breakfast, then back to the course for nine holes, then work on putting and chipping, then rest for an hour or two. In the afternoon, he could work on his wedge play, and in the evening work out with weights at the gym or ride a bike.

“Then sometimes I’ll putt at night a little bit if I can’t get enough of it,” said Lotter, who does have a hobby. “Sometimes I will go fish or something but there are 24 hours in a day. It’s really hard for me to get away from golf completely.”

Bill Franklin said his grandson is driven by passion.

“Everything he does, he wants to be a perfectionist,” Franklin said. “He wants to do the best he can. And he’s very competitive — competitive with himself and others.”

His after-school job is golf, and sometimes before school. Lotter has gotten up early for a gym workout before first bell, then used his free period to hit balls at a nearby driving range, then boarded a school bus at 10 a.m. as the golf team headed to a match out of town.

“That’s just the kind of stuff he’s always done,” Savannah Country Day golf coach Tommy Crenshaw said.

On several levels, Lotter has arrived. He was the Savannah Morning News’ Boys Golfer of the Year in 2019, when the 5-foot-8, 120-pound freshman couldn’t outdrive his competition. Those days are long past as Lotter has grown to about 6-1 and 182 pounds and averages 310 yards off the tee.

He can drive the ball 330 yards as he added size and strength, increasing power and swing speed to complement consistently stellar ball-striking, a solid short game and mostly dependable putting.

“He’s steady,” Crenshaw said of his senior co-captain. “He says all the right things. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him swear. He doesn’t blame mistakes on anything. He just has such a mature golf mind. He’s played competitively for a long time, but all those kids have. He just has a knack. He’s very competitive and a really, really hard worker. He is so focusedon golf.”

National, world rankings for Lotter

Lotter, who has signed to play for Auburn University, was No. 42 as of Monday in the Rolex American Junior Golf Association national boys rankings with seven top-11 finishes in his last 13 events (all non-scholastic).

He is 1,416th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings for men.

Lotter is arguably the most promising prodigy in Savannah high school golf since Brian Harman (Class of 2005) was leading a state power at Savannah Christian. Harman was a highly decorated junior on a national stage and an All-America golfer at the University of Georgia who is now, at 35, in his 11th full season on the PGA Tour.

Born in 2004 when Harman was starting his senior year at SCPS, Lotter will cap off his senior year with the Hornets on Monday and Tuesday at the GHSA Class A Private state 36-hole tournament at Dogwood Golf Club in Austell.

His goals are the same this year as they were last year: win state titles as a team and an individual. The Hornets finished tied for second in 2021, and Lotter recovered from a hugely uncharacteristic start — 5-over-par for his first six holes — to finish second by two strokes at 5-under after a tournament-best round of 66 on the final day.

Lotter was the All-Greater Savannah Boys Golfer of the Year in 2021, after the 2020 season was abruptly canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. He’s up for the 2022 honor as well, with the announcement June 10 at the Coastal Empire High School Sports Awards show — the first in-person event since 2019 — at the Johnny Mercer Theatre.

As competitive as he is in nearly everything, Lotter doesn’t bring up the awards in conversation. He’s polite, selfaware and a very good student (he said A/B while awaiting grades after the senior finished final exams).

His classes this semester: AP U.S. government, anatomy, calculus, ceramics, Latin and English. For the latter, he wrote and illustrated a seven-panel graphic novel, the subject of which shouldn’t surprise.

Lotter created a story about a young golfer taking on the famously difficult island green at No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. The unnamed golfer cards a 7 at the par-3 hole.

“Disaster,” said Lotter, who can’t recall too many details of the project from a month earlier, yet he can recite shot-forshot his rounds at the 2021 state tournament, and his two rounds in late March at the professional 2022 Club Car Championship at The Landings Club.

That’s golfers — and teenagers — for you. The amateur was competing for the second time against pros at Deer Creek — his home course, for which he shares the record of 62.

A rough day at the home office

Lotter pragmatically talked about his performance at the Korn Ferry Tour event, where he posted rounds of 77-77 for 10-over and finished at the back of the field. He fell well short of his goal of making the cut and competing after a solid first effort at the 2021 event.

He didn’t blame windy course conditions or delays that others also faced. He actually hit the ball well to get in position to score. But his putting abandoned him, he lost his feel on the greens and “it kind of got to my head a little bit.”

His emotions took over and it affected his swing. He had to make up a lot of ground in the second round to make the cut, and the putting didn’t come around.

After the round, he went home and went to the putting green for hours of practice, but without one of his clubs.

“That putter is in the garbage can,” said Lotter, who broke it over his knee. “I was just so mad. I just said I was basically never putting with that putter again, and I made sure.”

He wasn’t happy about his performance but pledges to learn from it and hopes to get another opportunity and putt better. Toward that end, he performs putting drills, like making 100 straighton putts in a row through a gate a bit wider than a golf ball. Miss one, and start over.

He also has a “hurricane” drill, with a spiral pattern of putts in 1-foot increments from 1 to 7 feet.

Lotter said while part of his competitive streak comes from within, his father has been a big influence. Chris Lotter is competitive, too, having played sports such as rugby, cricket, squash and golf in his native South Africa.

Reed Lotter likes to say that whatever you put into something is what you get out of it. But he doesn’t work alone. He acknowledges the sacrifices that his family has made in support of his golf career, such as driving and flying him to junior tournaments near and far.

“We’ve sacrificed family trips and stuff for my golf and I’m very appreciative of it,” Lotter said. “But I think that ultimately everybody is so supportive of it, and if they weren’t, I wouldn’t want to do it.”

The support system extends to his high school and swing coaches, and to the teachers and administrators at Savannah Country Day that have been accommodating to allow him to make up for missed assignments and class time as he pursues his dream to play golf in college and professionally.

“I think that ultimately it’s the support behind the scenes that gets you there,” Lotter said. “I put in hard work every day. But I think when you get a little bit off, that’s when those people around you, if you have good support, that they let you know if you get a little bit off and if you’re going the wrong way. And I think that ultimately makes you a great player.

“... the further you go, I think that you can’t do it without the people around you.”

Savannah Country Day senior Reed Lotter, left, is arguably the most promising golf prodigy from Savannah since Brian Harman, right, who was one of the nation’s top junior golfers before becoming an All-America golfer at the University of Georgia, and then turning professional. RICHARD BURKHART/SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS 

Savannah Country Day golfer Reed Lotter hits golf balls into a net in his attic. RICHARD BURKHART/SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS