Being the son of a baseball coach at school not known for golf, Taylor County senior Cole Wentworth competed in his fair share of sports.
His friend did the same.
Little did they know at an early age that the competitiveness and love they shared of other sports would have a direct impact on this fall’s golf season.
“Every day was always a competition,” Wentworth said. “We were never just on the putting green putting five and six footers. It was, ‘Hey, I bet I can make more than you can.’ Most of our team has played different sports, not just golf. We play pick-up basketball— not during the year because coach wouldn’t let us— or we’d play pick-up football. There was so much competitiveness, but that made it fun. I looked forward to going to practice because it wasn’t just bettering myself, but there was pressure.
“I was supposed to be the one seed, but at practice them guys stepped up and they were beating me. I had to push myself as hard as they were.”
Early on, during nine-hole matches, Wentworth struggled by his standards, but the five-deep contributions of his teammates kept the Bulldogs on an upward swing.
And then, everything all came together. From the Big Bend Championship onward, Wentworth put together a run to win a District 1-1A title ahead of Florida High junior Stephen Davis and Maclay sophomore Bryson Bianco, and at the regional tournament he captured medalist again.
At the same time, Taylor County won its first district and regional titles in school history and made the state tournament as a team for the first time ever. As a result, Wentworth has been named the 2015 All-Big Bend Player of the Year for boys golf.
“My team carried me early,” Wentworth said. “I was right there with the 2-3-4 seed and we were all competing for the one seed. Then finally I produced and did what I was supposed to do at the end of the year. It was awesome for me to reach some goals and then our team as well to reach the goals we set for the year. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
Wentworth is joined on the All-Big Bend first team by Bianco, who finished second at both the city tournament and district tournament by a stroke, and Davis, who won the city title and beat Bianco in a two-hole playoff for the second spot at the district tournament.
Also on the first team are Chiles junior Connor Futrell, who won a Big Bend title with a round of 70, and Timberwolves sophomore Bryce Johnson, who was the most consistent player on a team that made the state tournament for the fifth year in a row.
Leon senior Jordan Jones rounded out the group with consistent 18-hole tournaments in the mid-to-low 70s over the second half of the year, including third place at the city championship and runner-up in the District 1-3A tournament.
For Taylor County, it ended the season in 10th place at the state tournament. Wentworth himself is now settled on a future in golf and will join former Chiles golfer Eli Hendricks next year at Valdosta State on scholarship.
Player of the Year was a bonus.
“It’s been a dream of mine,” Wentworth said. “I’ve been disappointed I hadn’t made first time, but I worked really, really hard because I knew how good I was, and it finally worked out. It was even better when our team got the recognition it deserved and we reached the goals we set our sophomore year. Best year so far, definitely.”
Taylor County’s Carson is Coach of the Year
Seven years ago, John Carson moved from Tallahassee to Perry because his wife from was there. He first met Wentworth and Greyson Hicks when they were 10.
The nine-hole course in Perry became a regular stomping ground and Carson could see the talent. He just had to wait for it to get to high school and then manifest.
“It’s definitely been a working progress,” said the seventh-year Bulldogs coach. “When Cole and Greyson came in their freshman years, they immediately started to contribute. I knew we’d be competitive in the future. It was just a matter of getting them out there on a regular basis, working on their games, maturing not just physically but mentally as well. That’s what it boiled down to this year was maturity on the golf course. They had experience and the mental maturity to stay consistent throughout the course of the year.”
Carson has been named the 2015 All-Big Bend Coach of the Year after leading Taylor County’s golf team to its best and most historic season ever, along with guiding consistent play from the team, top to bottom.
Bulldogs junior Daniel Everett made the second team and Hicks and junior Graham Lynn made the honorable mention.
“I knew it was possible,” Carson said. “I’m very familiar with what each school brings to the area as far as talent. I know we don’t compete against Chiles in district, but I felt like we could compete with anyone in the Big Bend. I’d have been disappointed if we didn’t make it past district and regionals. Maclay is tremendously talented and we knew they’d be our biggest competitor in district. To go out and go toe-to-toe with them and come out on top was just a great experience for our guys.”
2015 All-Big Bend boys golf
» Player of the Year: Cole Wentworth, Taylor County
» Coach of the Year: John Carson, Taylor County
» First Team: Cole Wentworth, Sr., Taylor County; Stephen Davis, Jr., Florida High; Bryson Bianco, So., Maclay; Connor Futrell, Jr., Chiles; Jordan Jones, Sr., Leon; Bryce Johnson, So., Chiles
» Second Team: Matthew Dunn, Sr., Rickards; Jake Smith, Sr., Leon; Tripp Grable, Jr., Lincoln; Daniel Everett, Jr., Taylor County; Winston Ortiz, Fr., Chiles; Easton Mayo, Sr., Leon
» Honorable Mention: Tima Finlayson, Jr., Aucilla Christian; Graham Boone, Sr., Lincoln; Luke McCarthy, Sr., Florida High; John Menton, So., Maclay; Graham Lynn, Jr., Taylor County; Greyson Hicks, Sr., Taylor County; Ryan Jackson, Fr., Aucilla Christian; Miller Shelfer, So., Maclay; Phil Regalado, Sr., John Paul II; Dylan Vause, Fr., Lincoln; Hayden Smith, Fr., Chiles; Brandon Mathews, Jr., Lincoln