Christo Lamprecht’s next tall order: Rep himself, Georgia Tech at Masters

He figures to be the only player with any Tech ties playing in Bobby Jones’ ode to spring.
Christo Lamprecht of Georgia Tech in action at the RE Lamkin Invitational, March 4, 2024, San Diego Country Club, Chula Vista, Calif. (Photo by Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State Athletics)

Credit: Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

Credit: Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

Christo Lamprecht of Georgia Tech in action at the RE Lamkin Invitational, March 4, 2024, San Diego Country Club, Chula Vista, Calif. (Photo by Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State Athletics)

The obligations and opportunities are piling up around Georgia Tech’s Christo Lamprecht these days, so high that they might block the view of even golf’s human cellphone tower.

Easy to lose sight of the moment when so much future clutters the horizon.

“I think it’s human to get in that situation of thinking ahead to what can happen and what can’t,” said Lamprecht last week, leaning anxiously forward from his chair inside the sanctuary of the Tech golf facility.

“I try to remind myself whenever I get into that position, hey, what matters is what’s in front of you right now.”

Most immediate is a tee time at the Masters (April 11-14), where he figures to be the only player with any Tech ties playing in Bobby Jones’ ode to spring. Lean year on the Jackets golfing front.

Beyond that, the coming attractions include: Completion of a resplendent college playing career. A spring graduation walk with finance degree in hand, rewarding all that faith he put into a decision to leave South Africa for a foreign, cluttered outpost in the American South. And seven weeks of golf that could go miles toward defining his dream to play professionally. Lamprecht is one of two players competing for a place in the big leagues through the PGA Tour University points system designed to advance the best college players. Other than that, nothing much happening for the guy.

“I feel like in some ways we’re playing with three scoreboards now: Team, individual and PGA U. And it’s not easy,” Tech coach Bruce Heppler said.

First things first.

The crow’s nest, that temporary housing attic space above the Augusta National clubhouse where amateurs go to channel the spirits of Masters past, is tailored to the dimensions of the usual 20th century young golfer. How to comfortably fit this new-age 6-foot-8 player into such compact quarters? While committed to milking the Masters experience dry and spending a night in the nest, Lamprecht is pretty sure the club is not going to special order an extra long bed for him.

“Monday night will be my crow’s-nest night. I’m lucky to be up there. It is really small. I’ve been recommended to stay one night for the experience and not a single night more than that,” he laughed.

His height will make Lamprecht a great curiosity of this Masters. At 6-6, George Archer is the tallest to win the tournament (1969). When asked if Lamprecht would be the tallest to play here, Augusta National research came up with a tie. In 1996, a 6-8 young Scotsman named Gordon Sherry – who like Lamprecht qualified for the Masters by winning the British Amateur – appeared for two rounds before missing the cut. Sherry never parlayed his amateur success into a playing card on any professional tour.

His unique stature will be on even more exaggerated display during the par-3 contest on the Wednesday of tournament week. Lamprecht is scheduled to play with the countryman who blazed the trail for international players in the U.S., the 88-year-old, three-time Masters champion Gary Player. On his tip-toes, Player is 5-6. The combination of those two will be as close as the Masters ever gets to a carnival midway production.

As well as his height, Lamprecht’s length – all that size can translate into some fearsome clubhead speed when properly applied – figures to cause a bit of a stir at Augusta.

Once he unfolds himself from a night in the crow’s nest and unkinks all the parts, he should enjoy this long hitter’s paradise.

“Everyone would say his length fits the place, and that’s certainly true,” Heppler said.

“I think he has the skill set to play very well there. So, can you get to your skill set and avoid all the distractions and expectations everyone is putting upon you?” his coach added.

“Can he just figure out how to be a college guy pinching himself every hole because he’s getting to play the Masters as an amateur? Can he enjoy the moment rather than trying to be something?”

Christo Lamprecht of Georgia Tech watches a shot during the first round of the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational, Oct. 13, 2023, at the Golf Club of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga. (Photo by Clyde Click/Courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics)

Credit: Photo by Clyde Click/Courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics

icon to expand image

Credit: Photo by Clyde Click/Courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics

Only 23, Lamprecht already has banked experience that might prove valuable on the high-pressure Masters stage. His British Am win also got him into last year’s British Open, where an opening-round 66 gave him a share of the lead and created quite a kerfuffle. Reality and rough weather caught up with him the next day, when he shot 79.

“I had a mix of every emotion (a major) had to offer,” Lamprecht said. “It was one of the most valuable golf experiences I’ve had on a golf course. I realize what happens when you play well and all the noise that comes with it and when you own that stage. And when you don’t play well and what comes with that, too. It was worth gold to me. Definitely some things I can take into Augusta.”

Beyond whatever happens for Lamprecht at the Masters, this spring is one of dizzying possibilities. He’ll be applying the final coat to an All-American playing career, taking one last swing at the NCAA tournament. All the while he’ll be battling long distance with Stanford’s Michael Thorbjornsen in the PGA Tour University standings. They currently stand 1-2 and far in front of the pack. The top player will earn instant playing privileges on the PGA Tour, with the next man falling back to the Triple-A Korn Ferry Tour.

Lamprecht has come such a long way for this chance, farther even than the 8,300 miles between his hometown of George, South Africa, and Atlanta.

There was the voice of his father, that he can still hear today no matter how far away he might be. “He’d say, Christo, you want to be the best in the world, go practice now. Stop playing games, stop fooling around, go practice. He kept me accountable from a young age.”

There were other voices who kept suggesting he wasn’t built for golf, that all that body could never be harnessed to an efficient swing. “I had the whole doubting effect, for sure. I guess thrown into the mix as I was growing, I kind of doubted that, too,” he said. But he definitely knew the other sport that attracted him – rugby – was out when he cracked a couple of vertebrae playing it as a middle-schooler.

There was the transition to being so far from home and such comforts as his native barbeque that Lambrecht insists beats Southern style in every way – “I will fight to the death on that one,” he said with a wide smile.

All to chase the daft proposition of becoming the very lucky, very few who can get very wealthy playing with a stick and a ball. Here it is, so temptingly in reach.

“You get a little obsessed with it. That’s normal,” Lamprecht said.

“But for me, it’s stepping back and saying I really can’t control how well Michael plays or any of the other guys I’m competing against for this status at the end of the year. If I do all the things right, I’ll achieve what I need to. If Michael goes out and wins every golf tournament, then he deserves the No. 1 spot, as much as it might pain me to say it.”

Just concentrate on his next shot rather than his big shot at fleshing out a dream. However difficult that may be.