Tyler Jackson first picked up a golf club at the age of three and immediately knew that's what he wanted for his future.
This past Wednesday, the LaFayette High School senior took the next step in that journey as he signed a letter of intent to play college golf at nearby Cleveland State Community College.
"This day means a lot because I've been waiting for it for a long time," Jackson said after signing in front of friends, teammates, family members, coaches and well-wishers at LHS. "I felt most at home (at Cleveland State). One of my buddies, (former LHS standout golfer and basketball player) Jon Morgan, goes there and plays basketball. I thought it would be a good fit. It's close to home and not too far away."
Jackson has been a mainstay in the Rambler lineup since he first arrived on campus.
As a freshman, he competed with the varsity team at the state tournament and helped the Ramblers to a fourth place overall finish. The following season, LaFayette finished ninth overall at state with Jackson shooting a 77 in an event that was reduced from 36 holes to 18 holes because of rain.
This past spring, Jackson stepped up his game even more. An early season 75 in a tournament in Dahlonega was followed up by rounds of 74 and 73 in a tournament in Carrollton.
The Ramblers would ultimately finish third in the area tournament with Jackson posting a team-best round of 75 and he would lead them again at the state tournament as his rounds of 73 and 78 gave him a top 20 individual finish and helped LaFayette place 12th overall.
Then in June, Jackson carded rounds of 69 and 71 (4-under par) on his home course to tie for fifth place in the championship flight of the 2019 Chicken Dinner tournament.
One big reason for Jackson's success his is short game, which LaFayette head coach Tom Langford believes is one of the best he's seen at the high school level.
"He's long, and in today's game, 90 percent of it is about how far you hit it," Langford explained. "But Tyler is a kid that runs on confidence and when he's confident, he can chip and putt like nobody. It's really unbelievable. I've seen him chip-in two or three times a round sometimes. I've seen him go up on the green without a putter because he knows he's going to chip it in or get really, really close. That's definitely the strong suit with his game.
"Cleveland State is getting a really good player. He loves the game and he's got a lot of talent too."
Cleveland State golf Miles Mosley said Jackson's potential is "off the charts".
"Tyler will be the best recruit we've had so far," he said. "He was No. 1 on our recruiting board two years ago. We followed him all over the place, but when we talked to him, he had told us he was actually planning on going somewhere else at that point. I respected his decision, but we kept watching him from a distance.
"Then Coach Langford reached out to me about five months ago and said there might be an opportunity for us. We found out where his next tournament was and went and followed him again and talked with his dad and things started rolling pretty quickly after that.
"Our program is still in infancy and we are trying to get things moving. We have got them slowly coming in here and there, so it's great to have an opportunity to get a guy like Tyler."
Tyler said he is undecided on a major, but added that he thinks he has a lot to bring to the Cougar golf program.
"I think I'll be able to help them out quite a bit and we should have a really good team coming up," he added. "There's a lot of good players from around here, actually, that are going there to play with us."