So, I found another protégé on Sunday. That'd be the third. Really, the second... Evan has moved on as the summer has gone by, playing 980+ golf since the end of July (Freedom Flight, Kingston Open, Falcon Fall Classic). After Freedom Flight I started working with Nick Gray, who has only been playing since June. On Sunday I played some golf with Alex Gilson who has been playing since last December. So far, I feel like I'm doing a good job of identifying new players with some talent in the area and keeping them motivated.
Evan is an obvious success. I know I haven't necessarily trained him, so much as golfed with him and given him tips when needed. Really he's been golfing just as long as I have (in our fourth year). When we started golfing this spring he wasn't playing too hot, but I tried my best to keep him playing tournaments and practicing, doing field work. Having Justin Smith here from Oklahoma, a player at his skill level at the time, helped. That may have been the biggest boost: it seemed to make him WANT to be better. He'll be playing at a 1000 rated level at any time from a year from now to ... well whenever, depending on his own motivation.
Next down the line, skills-wise, is Alex. He started golfing in December and worked through the winter. When spring came he started playing tournaments. In July he won an event in rec, playing 940 rated golf at a wide open hyzer course. I golfed with him Saturday evening at Ottawa Park, playing a safari course designed by Chris Hoyle. The reason he won the round at BG was obvious, he can throw for D. He's good with hyzers for distance. He's got some natural ability. One thing he was having issues with was his putting. He's a line drive putter, which I like. You can't make it if you're not confident in running at it. A few simple fixes and he wasn't spraying it left or right anymore... mainly squaring up his shoulders. Then he kept hitting low and I had him raise his chin, to straighten his back. He stopped missing low. During the rounds at Willow sunday he went from throwing 200 foot shots with Panthers on an s-curve, because he couldn't throw a line drive off the tee... to throwing the Panther 300+ on a line drive, and throwing the Classic Roc straight 200 feet by the end of the day. Lots of potential.
Nick Gray is the most unusual of the group. I'd say he has the most drive and motivation, and the least natural ability and build for it. He comes from a bodybuilding background. The other two are lean and lanky. But he's obsessed with learning. He's soaked up a ton of information from sites like discgolfreview.com, but he's overthinking things right now. He really absorbed things like the bent elbow technique and tendon bounce and other shit that is over-complicating things for him right now. He's only been playing since June, so I'm not too worried. I can help him un-learn it all pretty quick. I'm going to spend a few hours working with him on Friday and try to tear things down. One thing he's having issues with: hyzer flip and straight shots. Right now EVERYTHING he throws is an s-curve. I need to break him of it. But I think his drive will make up for his lack of natural ability right now, he's going to be a solid player.
Personally, I think that with these guys I can set Toledo up to have a bright future as a competitive area. If each of these guys works at their games and stays in it, Toledo can have a solid set of 990+ golfers by the end of 2010. I know that that is pretty long term. I may not even be in Toledo by the end of it. And I know that Toledo already has a lot of names that "couldawoulda" been 990+ rated golfers, guys with potential (Whitehead, Schuller, Gill, Hoyle, Grabowski... guys whose lives got in the way). Maybe this is all pipe-dream, but I'm working to make it happen. Toledo won't be a laughing stock competitively soon enough. People just need to put in the work.
I know I will. Just gotta find a way to instill that in other guys. I'm enjoying it.