Smyrna golfer eyes state championship

Smyrna golfer eyes state championship

Video

Smyrna golfer eyes state championship

By

SMYRNA

Smyrna senior Zach Haynes made a choice last winter to finally stop playing one of the sports he loves the most.

“I played hockey every winter since I was little, except this winter” he said. “Honestly, it was probably my favorite sport, but there’s not a lot of people around here that get a college scholarship playing hockey.”

So, he made the commitment to focus on his other favorite sport – golf – year round.

“My goal has always been to get a scholarship and play collegiate golf,” the Bulldogs’ No. 1 golfer said. “Because of the commitment I made, and a lot of that I think came from working over the winter, I’m going to get that chance now. It lets me know all the hard work has paid off.”

In part because of his 3.7 GPA, the left-hander committed to UT-Martin before the school year started and will begin his college career with the Skyhawks next fall.

“He’s played No. 1 for four years,” Smyrna coach Mike Messerly said. “I watched him hit about three balls in the tryout and knew he was probably going to be playing No. 1 for us the following year.”

He’s shown flashes of great play during his first three seasons in purple, but it’s only been recently that he’s gained the confidence on the course to take his game to the next level.

“There is always something you can work on to get better in this game,” Haynes said. “I feel like that’s something I’ve really tried to focus on in the past year is working on the small things.”

The 5-foot-10, 150-pounder qualified for the Class AAA individual state tournament in 2011 and 2012 but he finished with below average results in both tournaments.

He believes he’s found the key to reversing those trends this season though.

“I’ve played in a bunch of bigger tournaments this summer and I’ve been playing well,” Haynes said. “I had a month-and-a-half stretch from late June to early August where I didn’t make a double bogey in competition.”

That stretch included appearances for Haynes in the Tennessee Junior State Amateur (finished fifth) and the Tennessee State Amateur (finished T25). He also missed qualfiying for the U.S. Junior Amateur by one shot.

“After having worked all winter and having competed in those big tournaments, I’m just better prepared this time around,” he said. “That will help at state this year. I won’t as nervous like I was in the past.”

He’s carried his momentum from those tournaments into the high school season too.

The plus-2.6 handicap golfer shot a career-best competitive round of 66 earlier this season during a match versus Siegel.

And he boasts a 69.6 scoring average this season.

“He’s as physically talented as any golfer in the area,” Messerly said. “He doesn’t really have a weak spot to his game.”

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports