BARCO — Hall Rupert should have never left the golf course.
There’s heavy family influence, with his father a former Division I golfer at Kentucky and a grandfather who still dabbles on the PGA Senior Golf Tour.
He grew up alongside Duck Woods Country Club in Southern Shores, then moved into a house next to the 18th hole at The Pointe Golf Club in Powells Point.
But the Currituck junior also holds a penchant for team athletics, namely basketball.
It’s a somewhat unusual two-sport combination when hoops are later paired with being on your own searching through a bag of irons and woods.
“I wanted to play golf a little earlier, but I was so into basketball,” Rupert said. “I was playing all-stars and Parks and Rec and that was my life. I’ve played basketball since I was 4, but I really got into golf in sixth grade.”
Now he’s an integral part of both sports for the Knights.
Rupert, a returning All-Area and all-Northeastern Coastal Conference golfer, finds a different release in the more physical nature of basketball, one he likes because it keeps him in shape during the winter months before he makes a full return to the course.
He started most of this past basketball season at Currituck, putting in a modest five-point average either at small forward or the two guard for the improved 9-16 Knights.
“I know it’s rare, but I just look at it as working hard to play two sports,” Rupert said.
Switching between golf drivers and a dribble-drive to the hoop became a little more difficult this year, since the 6-foot-3 Rupert moved up this winter to varsity basketball and had to manage postseason play around extra hacks at The Pointe, where he will regularly set up to fine tune his game.
“What I went through this year was I had to start practicing (golf) during basketball season,” said Rupert, who also travels to play a few junior golf tournaments each summer. “I had to practice sometimes when we had early practice, go home and head to the course and practice, even if it was 30 degrees and blowing.
“I had to get my arms in motion and keep my muscles going.”
On the surface, comparing the sports might be akin to dribbling a ball in a sand trap, and Rupert admits it takes a few weeks to shift from a non-contact sport to knowing plays and getting position on opponents in basketball.
But there are ways each one complements the other.
“A former coach from here told me that with golf, you look at the back of the cup and that’s where you want to hit it,” Rupert said. “So with basketball, I look for the back of the rim, that way I have a better chance of it being a swish and at least making sure it isn’t short.”
Rupert’s willingness to play both an individual and team sport was greeted with approval by his father, Gunnell, who almost followed a similar high school path until his grandfather urged him to stick with golf.
Rupert’s father now sits alongside of him at basketball games as an assistant to Knights coach Robert Woodley.
“I’m pretty sure he knew what I was going through, because I wanted to play golf, and I wanted to play basketball,” Rupert said. “He was very supportive about it and encouraged me to play basketball, and he’s one of the coaches who could help me, and he wanted me to stay in shape and believed playing basketball could help me a lot mentally and physically.”
Woodley, who has coached for more than 30 years in various athletics, has a hard time recalling when he’s seen an athlete excel in both basketball and golf, and notes Rupert’s accuracy to the pin might be why he’s developed a good shooting touch.
“I’ve had a couple that might have played tennis or baseball or football, and you see ones who play all of those major sports,” Woodley said. “This is the first golfer, and a lot of people don’t understand that basketball is unique, too. Even on a rainy day, you can do things with a basketball, and you don’t even have to have a goal.”
Blending interests from different arenas is a trait he likely picked up from his parents, who also hold similar versatility that proves it’s not all about golf in the Rupert household.
Rupert’s parents run Pizzazz Pizza in Dare County and are partners at WestSide Athletic Club, a fitness center near Kilmarlic Golf Club in lower Currituck.
While his dad helps improve his golf swing and mentors him in basketball, Rupert’s mother gives fitness tips with a weightlifting background at WestSide’s gym as its general manager.
He admits the lifting tutelage can improve his basketball skills, but too much of that regimen can hamper his golf game.
“She wants me to work out as much as I can, but in golf, when you work out it changes your golf swing,” Rupert said. “I only work out when it’s raining but not after playing a match.”
A growth spurt of three inches between Rupert’s sophomore and junior years allowed Woodley, who returned to the Knights’ sideline this season, to put him at small forward and also use his abilities as a shooting guard.
The same increase in height, while it allowed more basketball leeway, has played some havoc with his swing.
“People who are a little shorter, it’s easier for them to hit a certain (golf) shot,” Rupert said. “For me, I have to stand up straighter, and I can’t bend over as much because of my back and it did change my golf swing, but I’m playing with it pretty well.”
Currituck golf coach Julian Lassiter said Rupert’s work ethic should give him improvement on a solid 80 average during conference golf meets last season.
“I would certainly expect him to be in the top 4-5 in the conference this year,” Lassiter said. “Hall is one that will work hard on his own, you don’t have to go and tell him.
“Golf is a sport that you have to put in the time and effort on your own, and not just get it at practice. He’s one that’s dedicated to golf, and I went by the golf course the other Saturday, and he’s out there hitting balls.”
That dedication to his primary sport could have been dampened by a few close calls embracing the agility and physicality of basketball.
Rupert suffered a deep knee bruise in a December game at Northside that slowed him down, as well as a pulled muscle off a play against Hertford in Currituck’s final home game.
“It popped into my mind, because, ‘Uh oh, I have golf season coming up, what if I have to sit out?’ ” Rupert said.
Next year, Woodley expects Rupert to be a full-time starter and take the place of senior Kyle Spruill, who led the Knights in scoring during a season where they won not just their first NCC game in two seasons, but three.
“He is a good golfer, and I want to go watch him play, and maybe he’ll give me a few good hints on how to hit,” Woodley said. “I’ll help him with basketball, he’ll help me with golf.”