Calvin Lackey ready to make mark at McAllen Amateur

The Lackey name is synonymous with Weslaco, but this weekend it may become known in McAllen.

Calvin Lackey, 22, will be competing in the McAllen Amateur Golf Championship. The tournament, which features a special kickoff day today including a putting competition, begins in earnest on Saturday and will take place at Palm View Golf Course in McAllen. The tournament is 36 holes of stroke play and will feature 135 amateurs with an established handicap of 12 or less who have not competed in high school or college golf tournaments during the previous 12 months.

“I’m very excited to play at Palm View with their new greens,” Lackey said. The Palm View course became the third course in the world to install the Champion G12 Dwarf strain of grass when the greens on the course were redone in July. “I have heard they are awesome. I have heard (Director of Golf at Palm View) Carlos Espinosa and his team have done a great job over there.”

Lackey is the grandson of Bobby Lackey, whom Weslaco’s football stadium is named after. Calvin is the middle of three brothers, and despite playing golf about once each week, he said he plays the least often of the three. That’s because his younger brother, Austin, plays for the University of Houston, and his older brother, Garrison, is a professional golfer.

“It’s always a competition when the family gets together,” Calvin said. “They play every day. I play, if I’m lucky, once or twice a week. But when we get together, I still feel like I can beat them. In my mind, I can. But the end results, I usually don’t come out on top. But I give them a good run.”

Calvin said the brothers got into golf because their father, John, was a big golfer himself.

“He was our biggest influence growing up,” Calvin said. “He really pushed us. He always wanted us to play golf because he said it’s a lifelong sport. You can meet great people. … If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be where we are. Golf got all of us through college, with scholarships.”

Calvin’s path to competing in the McAllen Amateur was a circuitous one. Calvin had a stellar high school career at Weslaco High, including an All-Valley first-team honor in 2013. But during freshman year, he didn’t want to play golf, because he was focused on basketball.

“My older brother, when I was a freshman, he was a junior. He was on the varsity golf team,” Calvin said of Garrison. “They needed a fifth player, and I had played a little bit back in the day. He really wanted me to come try out. He thought I had a good shot at making it. So I went out, and I qualified for varsity, and it felt like an accomplishment, so I stuck with it.”

After he graduated, Calvin joined the men’s golf team at Tyler Junior College, where he competed from 2013-15. He played 40 rounds with an average score of 76.43. After his sophomore year, he transferred to the University of Texas at Tyler.

“I never even thought about playing college golf until my senior year,” Calvin said. “I did one semester at UT Tyler, and then I finished that year online. I came back down here and started working with my father. My wife and I had a child, so I wanted to come back down here and work to provide for my family.”

After coming home, Calvin was itching to jump right into the McAllen Amateur.

“Last year, I was trying to play in it,” Calvin said. “I wasn’t able to play. You have to be a year out of college. They told me, ‘Calvin, you can’t play this year, but you can play next year.’ So I am looking forward to this year.”

In recent years, the tournament has seen a youth movement. Edinburg’s Adam Haley became the youngest ever winner in 2015 at the age of 25. Calvin, who is just two months away from his 23rd birthday, has noticed the ages trending younger across the sport.

“It’s great,” Calvin said. “We see all these middle-aged people winning the tournament, but I think it’s time the younger guys start taking home the trophy.”

Calvin is very confident heading into the tournament. He wants to continue his family’s legacy and possibly even take the record for the McAllen Amateur’s youngest winner.

“I feel pretty confident,” Calvin said. “I actually think I’m a little better now (than when I was in college). Maybe it’s just all mental. … I’ve heard a lot of great things about this tournament, and I am anxious for my first time.”