by John Unrein
Former UCLA Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Wooden would start the first practice of the season by teaching his players the proper way to lace up their shoes. Past UCLA players under Wooden such as Bill Walton called it a “success lesson.”
Walton has explained throughout his career as a television basketball commentator that Coach Wooden liked to start at the bottom and build up his program brick by brick in paying attention to the little things through focusing on details.
Eagles Boys Head Golf Coach Andy Herbert is aware of the youth that makes up much of his roster.
“We only have two guys with varsity experience and that’s it. Right now we are focused on the expectations during practice. What does that look like? How do you come out here and improve daily,” Herbert said.
“It’s how you spend the time we have that’s important. What we do over the next three months to positively change the game of student athletes is what matters. Team goals is something we don’t know where we are at yet. Instead, establishing what it’s going to take through the pace of practice and the mental mindset needed has to be formed.”
Herbert continued, “then we can look at talent level and understand where we want to get from where we are at. We don’t have a ton of kids that grow up playing golf. We tend to stumble across athletes. Getting them a good foundation of fundamentals and having them understand that they must practice at this during the summer, by playing in tournaments, and playing year around when possible matters.”
“That helps to form guys who may do unique things like play in the state tournament. This isn’t something that you can do from March to May and expect to be more than a participant. Your concentration and the substance of your practice helps to carry you.”
Herbert praised the leadership that seniors Bradley Kitsmiller and Davis Powell provide for the Eagles. They are joined by Freshman Owen Herbert to form a nucleus that will help to push Grain Valley this season. Each offered their perspective on the various elements of playing a sport they love.
“I didn’t always play golf. I used to play baseball. It means a lot to be out here every day with my teammates and getting to do something fun,” Kitsmiller said.
Powell added, “The reason I like golf is because it was introduced to me by family. Getting to play with my friends while missing school sometimes is an added bonus.
Owen Herbert finished, “I’ve always liked being on a team. Combine that with getting to represent our school and play a sport I love is kind of cool. Building relationships that are long term and getting to joke with my teammates is great.”
All three teammates have also found a way to be around golf and play year round. Each indicated there wouldn’t be much they would be willing to trade that for in return.
“I work at Stone Canyon Golf Course and get to play golf for free because of that. I try to take advantage of free range balls and rounds as much as I can when the weather is warm,” Kitsmiller said.
Powell has taken the same route as Kitsmiller in being strategic in his part time place of employment.
“I work here at Adams Pointe Golf Course and it’s a good place to work that also allows me to play plenty of free golf,” Powell said.
Owen Herbert added, “I play in all kind of summer tournaments that allow me to compete a lot. It helps build your confidence. I try to get to the golf course every day.”
Bobby Jones was a lawyer by profession who just happened to play golf as well. Jones founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club and co-founded the Masters Tournament. Jones believed that golf could teach you valuable lessons about life as well as sharply divide your opinion about the sport depending on your perspective.
Jones is credited with saying, “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play where the ball lies.”
A noted Missouri author by the name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens had a different view of the sport.
“Golf is a good walk spoiled,” Mark Twain said.
The rewards and challenges associated with golf is something that the trio of Eagles Golfers embrace.
“The most rewarding thing about golf is winning as a team. Golf is also a hard sport. It requires consistency and your complete attention,” Kitsmiller said.
Powell agreed with Kitsmiller, “The greatest reward in golf is shooting your best game and getting a personal low score. It’s a game of inches and hitting the ball correctly with your swing matters.”
Owen Herbert concluded, “Getting to tell your team your score after a round and having everyone realize that will help the team is pretty awesome. This game is also about consistency. You can come out one day and wonder where your swing went. If you start think about your game during a round, you end up with a triple bogey and that one hole can change everything.”
Due to COVID-19 concerns affecting school and activity schedules, tournament information for Grain Valley Boys Golf is currently delayed. Updates may be sought through the Grain Valley School District Activities website or Twitter.