Junior Lilly Gentzkow comes from a family of golfers. Her older sister, Taylor Gentzkow (Class of 2014), played at Loyola and then for two seasons at Santa Clara. Her uncle, Brad Rendell, played for Georgia, and his three children all played golf in college. But Lilly — a Wilmette resident and graduate of Faith, Hope and Charity — is trying to establish her own identity in her third varsity season with the Ramblers.
MAROON & GOLD: Who first introduced you to golf and when?
LILLY GENTZKOW: I think I picked up a club when I was 3 years old. The main reason I started was my grandpa [Mills Rendell]. He’s my mom’s dad. He’s the one who brought me to it.
M&G: As a senior, Taylor helped the Ramblers qualify for the Class 2A state tournament in 2013. How big of an influence was she on your golf game?
LG: She was my role model. I watched her go through high school playing golf, and I wanted to be just like her. I wish we could have had at least one year together on the high school team.
M&G: Your older brother, Charlie Gentzkow, swam at New Trier, graduating in 2016. He competed at four state meets, despite being blind. In what ways has he inspired you?
LG: It’s really the simplest things, like seeing him wake up and do all the things everybody else does in the morning. I admire how he’s so on top of everything. Everyone knows how tough high school is, and I can’t imagine what he had to go through. He did everything without complaining or asking questions. Any time I’m down on the golf course, I think about him. If he could see, he would love to play golf. That’s something I think about. I know he would love to be in my position.
M&G: You told me you worked at the Winnetka Golf Club this summer. Describe your job.
LG: I taught little kids how to play golf. It was the first time I did something like that, and it really impacted me. It was rewarding to see them make improvements. I remember being that young and playing golf. I know how important a good foundation is.
M&G: What are the best parts about your game? Which areas are you trying to improve?
LG: I’m a good ball-striker. But I think my mental approach is strong. I come out [to the golf course] focused on strategy and execution, and I don’t worry about results. I look at each hole as a math problem. That’s something I learned from Mo Pickens, a mental coach in Sea Island, Georgia. He works with Zach Johnson.
M&G: After finishing second at the Class 2A state tournament three years in a row, the team failed to get past sectionals last season. How hungry is this team to get back to Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur?
LG: I think this team is stronger than ever after the devastation of last year. That helped us realize you can’t take anything for granted. I think everybody is prepared this year. We have good team chemistry, and we are having fun.
M&G: Have you ever had a hole in one?
LG: Yes. It was at our home course, Glencoe Golf Club, a couple of years ago. It played about 110 yards, and I hit a 9-iron that landed on the front of the green and rolled straight into the hole.
M&G: Who is your favorite professional player?
LG: Jordan Spieth. Definitely. I said that with such confidence. I like how he keeps his cool on the golf course, and he focuses on one hole at a time. He never gives up. That’s how I like to play.
M&G: Last question. I’m from Georgia, and I went to the University of Georgia. The Bulldogs play at Notre Dame on Sept. 9. I know your dad is a big Irish fan, and your uncle is faithful Bulldog. Who are you taking to win?
LG: I’m definitely going to the game. [Uncle Brad] is a hardcore Bulldogs fan, and he turned me on to the Bulldogs. I would consider going to Georgia, and I would love to play golf there. My dad and brother are big Notre Dame fans. I have to root for Notre Dame.