Finesse over force is key for La Canada's Veeh

Playing his final year of golf at La Cañada High, Brian Veeh made the best of it.

He was low medalist at the Rio Hondo League finals, shooting a remarkable 71 and 73 over the two-day event, qualifying him for the CIF Individuals.

He followed that up with a top-25 finish in the CIF Southern Section Northern Individuals on May 19 at Sterling Hills Country Club, shooting a 73 to qualify for the CIF Southern Section Regional Finals at Hacienda Golf Club in La Habra Heights.

His season ended there, as he shot an 85 at an unfamiliar course, but Veeh wasn’t down afterward.

“It’s been fun,” he said after his season wrapped. “I did bad at Sterling Hills last year. I wanted to come back to prove I could play with the big boys and I did just that.”

Veeh more than held his own, he set the standard, advancing farther in the CIF Individuals than any area golfer this year.

For his efforts, and the results they produced, Veeh was voted All-Area Boys’ Golfer of the Year by the sports writers and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

Though the end result of the season was great, it was a tough year for Veeh. His play was inconsistent for most of league play and he sometimes shot in the mid-40s.

“I wouldn’t see his name in the paper,” Veeh’s golf instructor John Milligan said. “Every time I’d see him, I’d say, ‘Where was your name in the paper, did they forget to put your name in there?’ and he’d say ‘Naaah, I shot 42.’”

His slow start was caused by a few things.

His home course, Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, was closed for most of the winter months and reopened just shortly before the season started and he was barely able to practice before the season kicked in.

On top of that, Veeh can best be understood by the things he loves. He loves Metallica and Led Zeppelin. He loves playing guitar. He loves playing football — specifically linebacker.

“He could always hit it,” says Milligan, “but he just liked to hit it hard, that was more important than anything. He’d be in football mode.”

This season Milligan and La Cañada Coach Richard Tetu tried to help him with learning the soft touch.

“Last season, we tried that and he didn’t buy into it, trying to teach him to get more into the finesse game,” Milligan said. “It was never about the final product. [This season], he made a conscious effort to try and play the finesse game. He mentioned something in mid-March, ‘We gotta get this fixed.’

“We didn’t spend much time on it, he’s very talented.”

And then, everything started to click.

“The peak of my season was shooting a 73 at Sterling Hills,” Veeh said. “I was in awe. I was so surprised more than anyone that I played decent.”

After he accomplished his goal and got to the CIF Southern Section Regional Finals, he put away his golf clubs and opted to travel to Europe and get ready for college — he’s going to Texas Christian University and will likely not try to walk on to the golf team.

“Don’t think I’m going to play for the golf team,” Veeh said. “I’m not planning on playing. I made a walk-on trial, but that’s about it.”

Though he’s very good at golf and likes to play, it’s never been his top priority. Milligan wishes he would give it a try.

“He has his priorities straight,” Milligan said, “but I’d like to see him give it one last shot. He may go down there and, if something prompted him to give it a shot, play with some kids on the golf team. He might say ‘I can play with these guys.’

“He has the greatest untapped reserve of talent I’ve ever coached.”

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