12 Dec 2023 | Amateur golf |

Lukas lucky to know the boss at Sandbelt Invitational

by Jimmy Emanuel

Lukas Michel
Lukas Michel at the Sandbelt Invitational

Lukas Michel was cruising along on day two of the Sandbelt Invitational, however, suddenly the Victorian made his first bogey of the day at the 18th hole of Peninsula Kingswood’s South Course.

Having made birdie at 16 and 17, Michel stood in the middle of the final fairway with either a sand wedge or lob wedge to the back flag. His mind was perhaps drifting to his post-golf plans when he overcooked his approach into the back bunker and eventually took five after requiring two attempts at extrication.

Despite the dropped shot to par, Michel signed for a 5-under 66 that has him 3-under for the event and in the low men’s amateur title hunt.

But before the 2019 US Mid-Amateur champion worries about how to tackle Yarra Yarra and Royal Melbourne, he first was jumping in the car and headed for Euroa to do some of his "real job".

“It was good to play early because I’ve got to drive this afternoon two hours to a project and spend about four hours on site, might stay the night if I get a late enough draw tomorrow and then I will be back for round three,” Michel said Tuesday lunchtime.

The design associate for Clayton, Devries, Pont is benefitting from the first name in the golf course design business also being the Sandbelt Invitational tournament director, although his plans to stay the night two-and-a-half hours drive north of ‘PK’ were dashed by a two-tee start Wednesday due to predicted bad weather.

Clayton is likely more than happy to attempt to fit Lukas’ real job into his part-time golf to ensure the project of six holes with 18 tees on a private property is ready to be grassed next Monday.

Michel’s one-time juggling of golf as the priority over tractor time now swung the other way after a realisation a year ago.

“Probably only in the last 12 months,” Michel said of finally ending the will he or won’t he over turning pro.

“Up to 12 months ago I was still considering maybe if I had a good summer last summer, like won an Aussie Am, and won a few of the big ones and played nicely in some of the professional events.

“I still played alright … those experiences, I sort of didn’t really enjoy it. I didn’t feel like I really had it, and I didn’t enjoy the stress and that side of things. So I made a decision at that point that I was pivoting towards the design stuff.”

Happy with his timing and subsequent busy-ness in his paying job, Michel says he has no regrets over the call to make elite golf a part-time project for the foreseeable future.

The West Australian-born son of a Czech migrant who fled the communist regime is still planning to tee it up on occasion.

“You feel it, you always want to do as well as you can,” he said of any frustration over his play and closing bogey.

“Doesn’t matter if I am practicing once a week or five times a week. You always want to shoot the lowest score, so it’s still frustrating, but there is definitely a lot less pressure because I know it’s not my full-time gig now.

“Now I am just able to enjoy it a bit more. And when these events come around, it’s really good fun to spend some time and place some decent golf sometimes.”

That decent golf might be tougher to produce after more than five hours in the car and some time doing some manual labour, but like Clayton before him, Michel thrives in the busy environment of wearing many hats.

If he can keep Monday’s “grassing” off his mind, one of those hats might be low men’s amateur this week.

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