by Chuck Bailey
CUMBERLAND-If you think the fall is busy with the start of school, softball, football, cheerleading, soccer and the list goes on. The spring also has its challenges for busy athletes trying to find where they fit in on high school campuses. High schools trying to fill rosters for spring sports sometimes find trouble doing so. Most student athletes have already played football or been a cheerleader in the fall, maybe basketball in the winter. Sometimes getting students to compete in the spring can be a struggle. Some may also have ailing grades and want to make that final push to get there grades up, especially if they are a senior or a junior. Athletes also have to choose between two or even three sports in the spring. However, for some who have not participated in sports in the fall or winter, this provides an excellent opportunity to get involved in their high school spring sports program. Most spring sports have tryouts and if you haven’t played in a while you may find it hard to make a team. With the shortage of players sometimes tryouts are not an option. Golf is one this reporter finds as a good option for the athlete looking to have a sport on their high school resume with the least amount of risk. “I really don’t have the size now to compete in the three major sports (football, basketball or baseball) said Brett Bailey a freshman on The East Webster Golf team “I want to play sports, so I tried out for the tennis team and didn’t make it. I played on last year’s team but I wasn’t very good.” “A lot more people went out for tennis this year and my tryout didn’t go very well” “It’s pretty much my fault. “ “I really didn’t apply myself and practice over the summer and fall.” Bailey in search of a sport to play asked one of his teachers for recommendations. That teacher recommended golf. “I didn’t even know we had a golf team.” said an excited Bailey “I played golf back when I was younger, like when I was six or seven.” “I was a member of US Kids Golf and The Mississippi Junior Golf Association.” “I stopped playing because I started playing soccer, Upward basketball and little league baseball” “I’m so glad I can still play golf.” The teacher that suggested golf just also happens to be the golf coach. East Webster golf coach Kenny Williamson says he is always looking for golfers “The way high school golf is set up it is real easy for kids to get involved.” “You are basically trying out as you play tournaments against other schools.” “We also give our kids professional instruction.”” We work with a pro once a week.” “Golf is also a game they can take with them throughout their life” So how do kids get to compete in tournaments if they are just starting and not very good? “We play approximately six tournaments before we narrow the field for district. “ says Williamson “Golfers play against each other in tournaments sometimes against their own teammates.” “You may have one team show up with two golfers and another show up with nine.” As is the case with East Webster’s golf team the ladies team has two golfers and the boys have nine. You play nine holes and you pickup after you are three strokes over par. Therefore, the highest your score can be on nine holes at a par of 36 is 63. So everyone competes, everyone has fun, the game continues to move at a fast pace even with inexperienced golfers. You tally up the top 5 scores and that is the team score. However, all that changes when it comes to district and state play. “You only get to take your top five players and they play 18 holes and you keep up with every stroke” says Williamson “If someone blows up and shoots a ten on one hole, you very well could win just by keeping your cool and not tallying up too many strokes” “We were able to not finish last in district play last year for this very reason.” Only one team from your district advances to the state tournament. Also, one player who shoots the best round is awarded medalist and advances. Currently East Webster plays in a district that includes Ackerman, Bruce, Calhoun City and Hamilton. On Monday, March 26th we found East Webster boys and girls 2A teams out at the Mississippi State University Golf Course competing with the likes of 3A Kosciusko , 6A Starkville and 5A West Point. Kosciusko won the tournament and is a favorite to win the 3A State title. East Webster finished third. At this game, size is not a factor as it would be competing against these same schools in football or basketball. Here skill and finesse are the keys. “That’s why I play the game over say baseball” says Colby Williamson, who already has two medalist awards for East Webster in four tournaments played. “It is really a sport that tests your mental ability every shot and I like the challenge it provides me.” So from an experienced golfer who was in the first flight today compared to an inexperienced one back in the forth flight what was the difference. Amazing, compared to my first two matches, I did phenomenal!” said Brett Bailey “I played my best round yet.” “I really think my short game helped me a lot.” said Bailey “I had to leave early on hole seven so my score won’t count toward the team total.” “I am looking forward to getting better and being one of our top five.” “But if not, it’s OK I got to be on this team and compete and I will continue to practice and get better and get ready for next year” “Just being a freshman, I got time to get my game back and get really good” “I also like the fact we can play schools like Starkville and compete with them as well.” Today Bailey was paired up with Cody Prewitt of Starkville. “I enjoyed playing against Cody he is a good golfer and a great guy, I learned a few pointers from him and I hope he learned some from me.” “I got to start narrowing it down, and I hate to, but it is coming up on our day to select the top five.” said Coach Williamson “We will try and get in a full 18 at Eupora Country Club tomorrow (East Webster’s home course) and I will have a better idea then.” Asked how he did after the round Tuesday, March 27th at Eupora, Bailey exclaimed “I was in the high sixties when we stopped because of nightfall.” “We were into the back nine” “It’s hard to know how a kid will do in district play until you see how they do over 18 holes.” says Coach Williamson. “Nine holes just doesn’t tell the whole story, especially when fatigue sets in.” “Strokes tend to accumulate and they aren’t riding in carts, they’re walking the complete 18.” The next day Thursday, March 28th, the East Webster golf team traveled to district favorite Bruce to compete with them and Calhoun City at The Pine Hills Golf Club, this year’s site for the district match April 17th. “Bruce has a really good team” said Coach Williamson. “They will be the one to beat in the district match” Bruce won the tournament, East Webster finished second. “Wonderful course.” said Bailey “A lot of hills, that should help me get in shape to walk 18.” East Webster finishes their golf season playing Ackerman at Eupora CC Wednesday, April 4th and then travel to Ackerman to play them again the following Wednesday, April 11th. After that it is down to the top five golfers for East Webster playing 18 holes at Bruce Thursday, April 12th and the same five will play at Eupora CC on Monday, April 16th before the district match. If your school doesn’t have a golf team, encourage them to start one. A parent or teacher can be the coach and a course near your school can be your course. If you have someone else interested you have a team. It’s a good option to get that sport on your high school resume but most of all it sounds like a whole lot of fun!