TROY — Triad High School senior Blaine Buente could have considered many factors when the college recruiting process began late last year.
Instead, Buente chose to keep it simple. One of the top prep golfers in the state the past two years, Buente wanted a school where he would get a great education and be able to play college golf.
At Millikin University in Decatur, Buente will have a chance to accomplish both.
The 2012 Mississippi Valley Conference champion and Belleville News-Democrat co-Player of the Year who went on to tie for second at the Class 2A State Tournament last fall, Buente recently signed a letter of intent to join the Big Blue's golf program beginning in the 2013-14 season.
"It's a place where I think I'll have a chance to play right away,'' Buente said of Millikin. "They are graduating one senior and I'm hoping to go in and take that spot.
"I know it will be tough. But I'm going to go in, work hard and hope for the best.''
Buente also considered Maryville University, University of Illinois at Springfield and University of Missouri at St. Louis. He will major in accounting.
One of the top players in the MVC since his sophomore season, Buente had his best season in 2012.
Buente finished with a nine-hole average of 36.7 and posted a league record 5-under-par 67 at the MVC Championship at Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River.
He then fired a 1-over-par 73 during the first round of the Class 2A State Tournament at Weibring Golf Course in Bloomington. The second round was canceled by rain.
Triad coach Bruce Lewis said Buente's best golf is yet to come.
"I don't think there is any doubt that Blaine will continue to get nothing but better at the college level,'' Lewis said. "I think Millikin got an absolute steal when they signed Blaine.''
Buente plans to play tournaments all summer. He works at Gateway National Golf Links in Madison.
"The plan is for me to play as much as I can all summer. I'm going to play some national and regional (tournament) qualifiers and continue to practice and play a lot,'' Buente said. "I don't think the added length of college courses will be a factor for me because I'm long off the tee as it is.
"Like any player, I just have to continue to focus on my short game -- chipping and putting. That's the name of the game.''